The Red Bull Racing team will be glad they get a week off before the French Grand Prix, after a breathtaking and completely unpredictable Azerbaijan Grand Prix which saw Sergio Pérez claim his first win for the team, at the expense of Max Verstappen crashing from the lead!
Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, which saw both of his drivers race superbly. Pérez was ultra aggressive in the opening laps of the grand prix overtaking Pierre Gasly and Charles Leclerc, putting him in third. Verstappen too quickly got past Leclerc for second, in a bid to not let race leader Lewis Hamilton escape.
Both Red Bulls stayed close to Hamilton, with both then overcutting the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver during the opening pit-stops. For a vast majority of the race it was then a Red Bull one-two, controlled beautifully by Verstappen until pulses stopped.
With only a handful of laps remaining Verstappen suffered a high speed tyre failure, sending him straight into the wall on the 2.22-kilometre main straight, suddenly ending his hoped of extending his championship lead. The crash brought out the red flag and meant a two lap sprint finish would decide the race winner, with Pérez starting on pole.
The Mexican got a poor start and was unable to cut across to block Hamilton, but just when it looked like Pérez had blown his biggest chance of a race win, Hamilton locked up and went straight on at turn one dropping him to the foot of the field.
Pérez was then left to bring the car home to claim his first win for Red Bull and help extend their lead in the constructors world championship. With Hamilton also finishing outside the points Verstappen somehow also remains at the top of the drivers standings, in what was a day Horner will struggle to forget. He dedicated the teams win to Mansour Ojjeh, who tragically passed away earlier in the weekend.
“What a rollercoaster! I think we have been through every single emotion today,” said Horner. “To be within five laps of achieving our first 1-2 since 2016 to then lose Max from the lead of the race with a puncture that is so far unexplained was pretty heart breaking. The race was then red flagged and we had serious concerns that Sergio was losing hydraulic pressure and there were no guarantees he would make it to the finish.
“Thankfully Sergio got the job done and Lewis’ mistake into Turn 1 at the restart means we come out of the weekend having extended our lead in the Constructors’ Championship with Max maintaining his lead in the Drivers’ and Checo now moving into third place. Although it was frustrating for Max, we are delighted for Checo to take his first win for the Team today. He has been extremely fast all weekend and it was a great boost for the Team to see him on the top step of the podium.
“It was also great to see Pierre on up there on the podium after a strong weekend but today we would like to dedicate this win to Mansour Ojjeh who was unfortunately lost from the McLaren family and our sport, he was inspirational and someone I was fortunate enough to call a friend.
“Congratulations and a big thank you must also go to all our partners, especially Mobil 1 who provided us with an upgraded engine oil for this weekend which just shows how hard all areas of our Team are pushing in this championship fight.”