Sergio Perez wins the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after Max Verstappen crashes out

06-06-2021 15:20 | Updated: 06-06-2021 20:34
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Sergio Perez wins the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after Max Verstappen crashes out

Sergio Perez has won the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, due to Max Verstappen having a left rear tyre failure with four laps to go in the race. Verstappen led the race for the majority of the 51 laps and an accident on the final straight cost the Dutchman the victory. A Red Flag was shown on Lap 48. The Red Bull driver started from sixth on the grid. Sebastian Vettel finished second and Pierre Gasly rounded off the podium places.

Verstappen's DNF means that his lead was lost in the Driver's Championship to Lewis Hamilton, however after the restart with two laps to go, Hamilton locked up and ended up in the run-off zone at the end of the final straight, moving him down to last place. Perez's victory will hold Red Bull's lead in the Constructors' Championship. This is the Mexican's second ever victory in Formula 1.

A continuous battle between Verstappen, Perez and Hamilton was on view throughout the whole of the 51 laps in Baku and sadly it came to an end for the Red Bull driver just laps before the chequered flag. Pole setter Charles Leclerc finished in fourth, with Lando Norris hot on his tail. Fernando Alonso was sixth, Yuki Tsunoda with seventh and Carlos Sainz was eighth. Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen rounded off the top 10.

Sainz found himself in the runoff zone in turn eight and caused a minor yellow flag which resulted in him dropping out of the top 10. Lando Norris' undercut strategy on Valtteri Bottas worked as the young Brit re-took his lead over the Finn at the start of lap 12. Nikita Mazepin found himself causing a yellow flag at turn four after running into the escape route before reversing out and continuing with his race.

The Safety Car was deployed on lap 31 as Lance Stroll found himself into the barrier on the final straight due to a left rear tyre failure. Due to where the incident occurred, the Aston Martin was in the way of the pitlane resulting in the lane being closed. Three laps later and the pitlane reopened with George Russell, Mick Schumacher, Antonio Giovinazzi and Fernando Alonso all committing to an early second pit stop. However, Schumacher stopped at the end of the pitlane due to his right front tyre not being on correctly and was wheeled back to complete the stop correctly.

At the Safety Car restart, Vettel moved up to fourth place, overtaking Leclerc and Gasly within a lap. Bottas found himself in 13th after the restart.

Drama at the start of the race

A superb start from Sergio Perez off the line allowed the Mexican to move up two places within the first few corners and give Red Bull a comfortable three-four duo to compete with Leclerc and Hamilton at the front of the race.

Norris dropped down four places to thirteenth and found himself behind his teammate Daniel Ricciardo at the end of the first lap. Giovinnazi crashed out in Q1 yesterday but moved up five places on the first lap, with Stroll moving up three places after finding himself in a similar situation to the Italian in qualifying.

Leclerc lost his lead of the race at the end of lap two with Hamilton overtaking the Ferrari driver on the final straight of the street circuit. By the end of lap four, Norris had reclaimed his lead over Ricciardo but the McLaren duo still found themselves out of the top 10. 

Esteban Ocon retired from the race at the end of lap four, as the Frenchman found himself with no power coming out of Turn 16 and a puff of smoke was seen from the rear of the Alpine.

Verstappen, after laps of trying, finally made his way past Leclerc at the start of lap seven and overtook the Monegasque driver on the final straight. A lap later and it was more bad luck for Leclerc as Perez overtook the Ferrari driver at the same spot, pushing him out of the podium places.

In the pits

Russell pitted at the end of lap one onto hard tyres to try and last the whole of the race. Giovinazzi followed suit of Russell and Williams, as the Alfa Romeo driver pitted onto hard tyres two laps later. Both Alonso and Norris pitted at the end of lap eight in order to try and undercut those drivers sitting on the edge of the points places, switching to hard tyres and hoping to last the whole race. Alpine's pitstop of 2.7 seconds was 0.3 seconds faster than McLaren's.

Four drivers all pitted at the end of lap 10, with pole setter Leclerc being one of them. He, alongside Yuki Tsunoda, made the switch to hard tyres in order to race until the end of the race. A 2.3-second pitstop for Ferrari was 0.4 seconds faster than AlphaTauri's. Nicholas Latifi and Mazepin were next to pit.

The end of lap 11 was when Mercedes called Hamilton into the pits after a team radio chat that had the Brit complaining about the car. A 4.3-second pit-stop was seen due to him having to wait for the traffic light to change to green, to ensure that no penalty could be awarded. Bottas followed Hamilton and had a 2.7-second pit-stop.

Red Bull then pitted Verstappen the following lap and a superb 1.9 second stop, set up the Dutchman in good stead. After leading for a few laps and gaining a large amount of time, Perez pitted and a slow 4.3-second stop resulted in the Mexican coming out behind his teammate but ahead of Hamilton.

Vettel led the race for seven laps and the Aston Martin driver pitted at the end of lap 18 and after a 2.4-second stop found himself in seventh place, between Leclerc and Tsunoda.

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