Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Perez drove brilliantly at the 2023 Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix over the weekend to take home not only the win in the main race on Sunday but also in the new standalone Sprint race held on Saturday.
With points up for grabs in both events, it means Perez is now only a few points shy of the title lead, held by fellow Red Bull driver and reigning champion Max Verstappen.
Perez led a Red Bull one-two finish in the main race at the Baku City Circuit, with Verstappen crossing the line two seconds behind his teammate. Rounding out the top three was Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who finished 21 seconds behind the winner.
Leclerc started the race on the pole but couldn’t match the pace of the two Red Bull drivers and soon trailed them, with Verstappen in the lead and Perez close behind. Lady luck then shone on Perez, when AlphaTauri’s Nyck de Vries came to a stop on lap 10. Verstappen, who was complaining about his rear tires sliding, pitted immediately, while Perez held out.
The safety car was then called only at the end of that lap, disadvantaging anyone who pitted earlier. Perez pitted toward the end of lap 11 and managed to come out in the lead spot, with Leclerc in second and Verstappen in third.
The safety car eventually left the track at the end of lap 14, after which Verstappen was able to quickly pass Leclerc. However, he couldn’t get the best of his teammate and by lap 17 Perez had already built up a gap of one second. Despite a series of fastest laps, Verstappen wasn’t able to catch Perez, who held on to the lead spot until the finish.
Further back, Leclerc held off a late charge from Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, who had to settle for fourth place. Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz rounded out the top five, after managing to hold off Mercedes-Benz AMG’s Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages.
With their latest points haul, the Red Bull drivers now have a clear lead in the 2023 Drivers’ Championship. Verstappen remains on top with 93 points, with Perez close behind with a tally of 87 points. Fernando Alonso is third with 60 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull leads with 180 points, versus the 87 of Aston Martin and 76 of Mercedes. The next race on the calendar is the Miami Grand Prix, scheduled for this weekend.
Below are the full results from the 2023 Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix:
1) Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing
2) Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing +2.137 seconds
3) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari +21.217 seconds
4) Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin +22.024 seconds
5) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari +45.491 seconds
6) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-Benz AMG +46.145 seconds
7) Lance Stroll, Aston Martin +51.617 seconds
8) George Russell, Mercedes-Benz AMG +74.240 seconds
9) Lando Norris, McLaren +80.376 seconds
10) Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri +83.862 seconds
11) Oscar Piastri, McLaren +86.501 seconds
12) Alexander Albon, Williams +88.623 seconds
13) Kevin Magnussen, Haas +89.729 seconds
14) Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri +91.332 seconds
15) Esteban Ocon, Alpine +97.794 seconds
16) Logan Sargeant, Williams +100.943 seconds
17) Nico Hulkenberg, Haas +1 lap
18) Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo +1 lap
NC) Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo – DNF
NC) Nyck De Vries, AlphaTauri – DNF
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