Formula 1

Red Bull Dominant as Sergio Perez Takes Baku Win

4 Mins read
Credit: Alex Pantling/Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

Sergio Perez crossed the line first as the chequered flag waved in Baku today to win his second Azerbaijan Grand Prix. His teammate and FIA Formula 1 Championship Leader Max Verstappen took second place. At the same time, Charles Leclerc put in a great performance to hold off Fernando Alonso for his first podium of the season.

Perez took an impressive victory in Saturday’s new Sprint Race format but was returned to third on the grid for the main event. The Mexican raced really well, and despite having some luck with a pit stop under the safety car, he was dominant over his teammate.

Verstappen will consider himself unlucky having pitted just before the safety car that was brought out due to the retirement of Nyck de Vries, but the Dutchman showed good pace to help Red Bull take their third 1-2 finish of the season.

Leclerc claimed third place after holding off Alonso, but Oracle Red Bull Racing were once again dominant with the Ferrari driver being over fifteen seconds behind Verstappen in second position.

Mercedes Lack Pace

One of the biggest losers of the weekend was the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team coming away from the Baku City Circuit with thirteen points. Lewis Hamilton, who won on the streets of Baku in 2019, had a tough race that saw him lose out when the early safety car was brought out. The only positive for the seven-time world champion was the recovery drive that saw him claim sixth place and challenge Carlos Sainz Jr. for fifth.

George Russell had a really difficult race and wasn’t helped by the out-of-character qualifying performance that saw him miss out on Q3, meaning he was starting eleventh on the grid. The Brit made up a few positions but struggled in the second half of the race after a poor safety car restart. Russell came over the line in eighth position but claimed an extra point after pitting late on to claim the fastest lap.

Mercedes continue their difficult and inconsistent season and were well beaten by all of Red Bull, Scuderia Ferrari and Alonso showing there is still so much work to do if they are to return to winning ways. Toto Wolff would have been hoping for a better weekend after an encouraging performance in Melbourne but it seems Mercedes will be hoping that their upgrades in Imola can be a turning point in their season.

Progress for McLaren, Difficulties for Alpine

McLaren F1 Team took a big step forward this weekend and showed that their first upgrades of the season have brought them into contention for ‘best of the rest’ behind the top four teams. Lando Norris claimed his second points finish of the season, and although on paper he finished lower than he did in Melbourne, he showed much better pace and looked like the best driver in the midfield. Oscar Piastri struggled with illness throughout the weekend, meaning an eleventh-placed finish and a late challenge for a points finish was an impressive result for the young Australian rookie.

Credit: McLaren Media Centre

While McLaren will go away from Baku feeling positive and moving forward, BWT Alpine F1 Team will leave feeling the opposite. The French team once again came away with no points, with Pierre Gasly having a difficult race finishing fourteenth.

Alpine took a risk with Esteban Ocon and let him run until near the end of the Grand Prix without a pit stop after starting on the hard tyre in the pitlane. The French driver pitted on the last lap, which saw a rather scary incident. As he entered the pits, preparations for end-of-race celebrations were already underway with photographers in the pitlane. Ocon had to take avoiding action as they scurried out the way, but it will make headlines after a recent change to the rules that said the mechanics weren’t allowed to climb the debris fences to see their drivers cross the finish.

What Happened Elsewhere?

Alonso finished fourth just a few tenths behind the podium, but the Spaniard will be fairly pleased with that result as he stays third in the Drivers’ Championship. His teammate, Lance Stroll, endured a difficult race but managed to finish ahead of Russell to claim seventh place.

Sainz really lacked pace compared to his teammate throughout the weekend and finished in fifth, over twenty seconds behind Leclerc. The Spaniard did manage to hold off Hamilton, who attempted to pace him in the last few laps of the grand prix. Yuki Tsunoda claimed another impressive point for a struggling Scuderia AlphaTauri team, with his teammate de Vries being one of two drivers to retire from the race.

Alex Albon showed good pace but missed out on a points finish for Williams Racing despite a top-ten finish in the Sprint Race yesterday. Logan Sargeant, his rookie teammate, lacked any meaningful pace and finished down in sixteenth.

Haas F1 Team tried a similar strategy to Alpine with Niko Hulkenberg but the late safety car failed to come, so the risk didn’t pay off for the American team. Kevin Magnussen also finished pointless for Haas in thirteenth. It was a difficult race weekend for Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake, as Zhou Guanyu had to retire due to a mechanical issue and Valtteri Bottas finished last of the classified drivers after making three pit stops.

Formula 1 returns next weekend for the Miami Grand Prix, with much of the conversation being about whether Perez can continue to provide a Championship battle and challenge his teammate Verstappen. As well as that, battles are emerging all the way down the grid and it will certainly be an interesting race in the US.

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