Max Verstappen wins Azerbaijan GP as Ferrari suffer double blow
Max Verstappen used his luck for Baku’s first win on Sunday (12 June), beginning a commanding championship lead after Ferrari’s challenge at the Azerbaijan Formula One Grand Prix. The Dutchman eased 20.8 seconds from Sergio Perez, who ordered Verstappen not to fight, completing a one-two for Red Bull.
George Russell holds his own record for finishing every race in the top five this season with third for Mercedes. Ferrari’s miserable afternoon ended after 20 of the race’s 51 laps. Charles Leclerc, who is leading the team’s challenge and started from pole, pulled into the pits with smoke from his Ferrari to chalk out his second retirement from race three. His teammate Carlos Sainz had pulled over the side of the track 10 laps earlier with a hydraulic failure.
“Today we had incredible speed in the car, we could take care of the tires and take it away,” said Verstappen, who crashed last year while racing for the first time in Baku, all after retiring from the lead. He was familiar with the heartbeat.
“A little lucky with the retirement but the car was fast today.”
Verstappen wins in Baku!!
Perez makes it Red Bull 1-2, Russell claims final podium spot #AzerbaijanGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/739ta2h7Th
— Formula 1 (@F1) June 12, 2022
The win was Verstappen’s fifth of eight races this year and made him the sixth separate Baku winner from six races. He extended his overall championship lead to 21 points over winner Perez in Monaco two weeks ago, who has moved up to second.
Leclerc, who has won two races this year but hasn’t won any since his third season in Australia, slipped to third place, 34 points behind his Dutch rival.
“It hurts, we need to look into it so it doesn’t happen again,” said Leclerc, who left Australia with a 46-point lead over Verstappen.
Leclerc was determined to do well on his fourth consecutive pole in Sunday’s race after being unable to convert the top spot into victory in the last three races. But he was on the backfoot from off, losing the lead of second-placed Perez to the first corner. He was not showing the pace to match Perez and was instead busy stopping Verstappen. But Sainz’s failure to make an opportunistic pitstop under a virtual safety car period allowed him to jump back for the first time, until the death of his car eventually dashed his hopes.
Verstappen, meanwhile, had overtaken Perez, who was bidding to become the first repeat winner of the Baku race. Red Bull instructed the Mexican not to resist, and the Dutchman inherited the lead when Leclerc retired.
“Anything can happen in this space … We managed to get a couple of laps, so it’s a great team result,” said Perez, who took the point for the fastest lap.
hamilton in pain
Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth but was suffering back pain, a result of porpoising or bouncing, that plagued his Mercedes. Kevin Magnussen started another safety car when his Haas stopped. China’s Guanyue Zhou also retired his Alfa Romeo with a technical problem. Both teams use Ferrari power units.
Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris were engaged in an intra-team McLaren fight, with the under-pressure Australian taking eighth from the Briton. Canada’s Nicolas Latifi took two penalties for breaching the grid and ignoring the blue flags, and finished last.