The Mexican driver Checo Pérez has clinched his first Formula One victory with Red Bull, second of his career, at the Azerbaijan GP, after an accident involving his teammate Max Verstappen triggered a red flag and a restart with just two laps at stake.
The four-time champ German racer scored his first podium for Silverstone squad as the Frenchman got if his third podium for Faeza team.
As for the two greatest losers of the day, Max Verstappen lost the victory with four laps to go and Lewis Hamilton was unable to take advantage of his title rival’s misfortune.
In an irrational move, the #44 attempted a pass at Pérez at the restart but ended up sliding off track and falling to the back of the pack.
Following this most bonkers of GPs the struggle for the crown remains as contested as before. Verstappen leads the standings with 105 points against Hamilton’s 101.
The team from Milton Keynes, however, has taken a step forward in the Constructors’ Championship, snatching the lead from Mercedes with 174 against 148.
Leclerc leads a smooth start
Leclerc hung on to the first position at the start of the Azerbaijan GP ahead of Hamilton and Verstappen. Carlos Sainz, on the other hand, gave up a position to Gasly. After a few meters, Pérez had gained two places to fourth.
After the third lap, Hamilton passed Leclerc for the lead with Max Verstappen in third. Behind them was Perez followed by Gasly and Sainz, sixth. Little by little, the #44 opened a 1,326-second gap with the two blue cars and the race stabilized in anticipation of the first pit stops.
Hamilton slow pit stop and Red Bull’s master move
The twelfth lap brought one of the key moments of the Azerbaijan GP. Hamilton lost 4.6 seconds after Gasly blocked his way on the pit lane while Verstappen was flying away on the track. The Dutchman wanted to get ahead of the Briton during that virtual turn.
On the next lap, Max completed a sensational stop (1.9 seconds) re-joining the race ahead of Hamilton and Perez followed suit after going through boxes himself.
A great display from Red Bull, who managed to perform a double overtake over Mercedes’ star. From that moment on, the Mexican, second behind his team leader, devoted himself to hindering the current world champion.
Stroll crashes triggering the first safety car
Things started shaking up again from the mid-point forward with Lance Stroll’s accident (lap 31). The Canadian, who was the only driver on the track who hadn’t made it to boxes yet, crashed violently against the wall after his left rear tire blew up.
The safety car remained on the track until the 36th lap. On resuming the race things remained unchanged with Verstappen in command followed by Pérez blocking Hamilton’s way. On the next lap, Vettel passed Gasly for fourth. A great race for the Aston Martin driver.
Verstappen crashes, the race restarts and Lewis makes a mistake
Just when it seemed that the outcome of the race had been decided, the Azerbaijani GP took a complete turn. With five laps to go, Verstappen crashed against the wall at the exact point as Stroll had done previously. Shortly after, the red flag was waved, and a re-start for a single lap was decreed.
Hamilton attempted to overtake new leader Pérez at the standing restart but he slid off track and fell to the bottom of the pack. What a mistake! Vettel inherited second place and Gasly third after a grandstand. The Mexican driver was free to snatch his first triumph with Red Bull and second of his Formula One career after Bahrain 2020.
Images of Azerbaijan GP: Red Bull Racing.