Perez wins dramatic Baku race

Sergio Perez claimed his first win for Red Bull Racing in a crazy and yet dramatic Azerbaijan Grand Prix following Max Verstappen’s tyre failure and Lewis Hamilton’s restart overtake went wrong.

Verstappen’s incident led to a red flag with three laps remaining, which became a two-lap shootout following a second standing start, where Hamilton challenged Perez for the lead at Turn 1.

The Mercedes driver’s brakes were smoking heavily ahead of the second start, but he made the better getaway from the front row and was ahead of Perez as they braked for the first corner.

But Hamilton’s right-front wheel locked and he sailed into the deep run-off area, falling out of the championship points and eventually coming home in a disappointing P15, as Perez ran clear in the lead to claim his first victory for Red Bull Racing, finishing ahead of Sebastian Vettel.

Over two hours earlier, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc had led briefly from pole before the long-time top three powered by, with the race split in two by a safety car period that followed Lance Stroll also suffering a tyre failure along the main straight, before the Verstappen incident added an unexpected late drama.

At the initial start, the top three on the grid pulled away, with Leclerc staying in command from pole as Hamilton and Verstappen slotted in behind in grid order, with Perez the main player as he moved from P6 to fourth by taking advantage of Carlos Sainz losing momentum fighting Pierre Gasly and then battling by the AlphaTauri into Turn 3 at the end of the back straight.

Leclerc ended the first lap just 0.3-seconds ahead, but his lead did not lost much longer as Hamilton was able to close in and shoot by as they ran back across the grid for the second time.

Debris falling ahead of the Turn 15 fast left where several cars have crashed this weekend appeared to cause Leclerc to cut the corner, which gave Hamilton the momentum he needed to get a run on the Ferrari and take the lead.

Leclerc was able to stay with the Mercedes for several laps, with Verstappen in close attention behind, but when he dropped out of DRS range at the end of lap six of 51 the Red Bull bounced.

Just as lap seven began, Verstappen swept by on the outside run to Turn 1, with Perez doing likewise to drop Leclerc to fourth in similar fashion one lap later.

Hamilton was able to run clear of Verstappen’s DRS for the next few laps, but the Red Bull was just beginning to close in when the pitstop phase kicked off.

Two laps after Leclerc came in at the end of lap nine from behind the three leaders, Hamilton came in to change his softs for hards, but a delay waiting for Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri to pass by the Mercedes pits cost him significantly.

Verstappen was lighting up the timing screens on the next tour, his in-lap, but 1.9 seconds stop for hards compared to Hamilton’s 4.3 seconds meant he came out comfortably ahead in the net lead.

Perez also delivered a stunning in-lap on the next time by, which became crucial as he was able to jump Hamilton too despite a slow left-rear change meaning he was stationary for 4.3 seconds.

Hamilton had DRS to look to attack Perez into Turn 3 on his out-lap, but the Mercedes couldn’t get close enough to make a move, as the net leaders settled down in their new order while running behind Sebastian Vettel’s long-running Aston Martin.

Verstappen gradually eased away from his teammate as Hamilton chased Perez for much of the next phase of the race, with the trio cycling back into the proper lead when Vettel pitted for hards on lap 18, rejoining behind Leclerc, who lost out to Gasly in the stops, in sixth and seventh.

By lap 15, Verstappen’s advantage over Perez was 3.1 seconds, where it stabilised for the next ten laps as the leaders made sure not to over consume their tyre life, with Hamilton eventually slipping out of Perez’s DRS range during this stage.

A string of fastest laps as he lapped and then pulled away from Nikita Mazepin meant Verstappen’s advantage reached five seconds just past the half-distance mark, with Perez losing time to both his teammate and Hamilton on the lap where he came to pass the Haas.

Verstappen’s lead was approaching seven seconds when the race was interrupted by a shocking tyre failure for the yet-to-stop Stroll, who had started P19 but suffered a left-rear tyre blowout as he came to lap Mazepin as they ran down the main straight at the end of lap 30, with Stroll running in an elevated fourth place.

The tyre blowing out sent the Aston Martin spearing to the inside wall nose-first and coming to a stop near the high-speed pitlane entry, with debris strewn across the track and so the safety car was quickly deployed and the pitlane closed.

Stroll was able to climb out unharmed, with five laps passing behind the safety car as the wreckage was cleared.

The race restarted at the start of lap 36, with Verstappen dropping Perez as they reached the grid with the green flags waving and then racing clear to a two-second lead by the end of the first lap back at full speed.

Hamilton was got close to Perez at the restart but never looked like being able to make a move, as the top three again moved clear of the pack, which was soon headed by Vettel – who nipped by Leclerc exiting Turn 1 at the restart after the Ferrari had tried to repass Gasly, with the AlphaTauri then losing out in a drag race with the Aston down the main straight ahead of lap 37 beginning as Vettel gained two positions in less than one tour.

Verstappen quickly pulled out his lead again and looked in full control and easing to a second victory in succession, his advantage reaching 4.4 seconds at the start of lap 46, at the end of which his race ended in shocking fashion.

Just before the Red Bull reached the start/finish line at top speed, his left rear tyre gave away in a similar fashion to Stroll – with the Red Bull pitched into the outside wall opposite the pits.

Verstappen was sent around several times after going into wall nose-first and as he climbed from his wrecked RB16B and kicked the destroyed left-rear tyre, the safety car had been called.

But after a few laps with the safety car leading the pack through the pits, the race was stopped – just after Red Bull had suggested to the FIA that such a development would allow all cars to change tyres given it had had no warning of Verstappen’s failure, per team sporting director Jonathan Wheatley.

After a delay of 35 minutes, the final shootout took place with all the cars back on soft tyres, proceedings beginning again with another standing start restart, where it all went wrong for Hamilton and Perez’s path to a second career win was eased, winning by 1.3 seconds.

Vettel came home an excellent second thanks to Hamilton’s off, with Gasly fending off a determined attack by Leclerc on the final lap to seal third position for AlphaTauri.

Lando Norris had battled back from a poor initial start to climb to eighth before the red flag, which was became seventh thanks to Verstappen’s absence, and he gained two positions at the second start to rise to fifth, ending up very close to Leclerc as the Ferrari challenged Gasly.

Fernando Alonso had led a pack of four cars to take a second stop when the pitlane reopened just before the Stroll-incident safety car came in, but was set to finish at the tail end of the top ten before the stoppage.

The Alpine driver also had an excellent second start to climb to sixth ahead of Yuki Tsunoda and Sainz, with Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen rounding out the top ten.

George Russell could not take the restart as he lost drive approaching the grid on the second warm-up lap and crawled back to the pits, where he joined Esteban Ocon as the other non-finisher.

Ocon stopped at the end of lap four after he reported a loss of power, with a puff of smoke coming from his car as he exited the final real corner before he pulled into the pits.

So yeah, well done Baku with a crazy race. Congratulations to Checo Perez in taking the flag in P1. His Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen should’ve won this and had this in the bag, but that rear tyre failure changed everything in terms of the championship. At least his title rival Lewis Hamilton was unable to score following a mistake on the second start.

Azerbaijan Grand Prix, race results:
1 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda 3:33.686
2 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes 1.385
3 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 2.762
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 3.828
5 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 4.754
6 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 6.382
7 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda 6.624
8 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 7.709
9 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 8.874
10 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 9.576
11 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 10.254
12 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 11.264
13 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari 14.241
14 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari 14.315
15 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 17.668
16 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 42.379
17 George Russell Williams-Mercedes DNF
– Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda DNF
– Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes DNF
– Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault DNF

7 thoughts to “Perez wins dramatic Baku race”

  1. Race report as reviewed by

    Max Verstappen looked set to take his first first-ever Azerbaijan Grand Prix victory before he crashed out from the lead with just five laps to go – giving Sergio Perez a second career victory, as Lewis Hamilton locked up on the penultimate lap to finish 15th in a hugely dramatic race in Baku.

    For the first time this season, Charles Leclerc led away from pole, but he was passed for the lead by Lewis Hamilton with no need for DRS, so strong was the tow, on Lap 2. Verstappen then swept by the Ferrari man on Lap 7.

    Verstappen took the lead after a crucial sequence of pit stops, Hamilton starting that sequence on Lap 12 with a slow switch for hards thanks to traffic in the pit lane. Verstappen pitted a lap later and emerged first, followed by Perez who split the championship rivals. And the Dutchman seemed to have victory in the bag, mastering a Lap 35 Safety Car restart after Lance Stroll’s terrifying accident, when the Aston Martin driver’s left-rear tyre appeared to gave way on the pit straight.

    That was until Verstappen himself, comfortably in the lead on Lap 47, spun and crashed after an apparent tyre issue of his own. Unhurt, but shaken, his crash triggered the Safety Car, which turned into a red flag that suspended the race on Lap 48. The race resumed with a standing start 35 minutes later on Lap 50, giving us two laps of flat-out action, the field all having switched tyres during the stoppage.

    Perez would lead Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Pierre Gasly and Leclerc off the line for the re-start. Hamilton got away well, his nose seemingly ahead of Perez’s, but the Briton locked-up heavily and went into the Turn 1 run-off. He finished 15th, leaving Perez in the lead, Vettel second and Gasly – having held off a charging Leclerc in the final laps – to take the final podium place.

    Vettel started 11th but finished a brilliant second as he pitted 18 laps later than anyone else, and emerged sixth. On the re-start after Stroll’s crash, he took P4 off Leclerc and Gasly, and was promoted to the podium by Verstappen’s retirement.

    Leclerc finished fourth as his Lap 10 undercut attempt on Gasly didn’t pay off. While he tried to wrestle P3 off the Frenchman after the final re-start, his efforts were in vain and the Ferrari driver finished fourth.

    Lando Norris shrugged off a three-place penalty and undercut his rivals having started P9 to take fifth ahead of Fernando Alonso, both movers in that final re-start, while AlphaTauri’s rookie Yuki Tsunoda started seventh and finished there having pitted early on Lap 9.

    Rounding out the top 10 was Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz in P8 – who bounced back on hard tyres after a huge Lap 11 lock-up that left him as low as 15th – Daniel Ricciardo, up to ninth from 13th, and Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo in P10.

    But the headline story was Verstappen’s retirement from the lead, and Hamilton’s shocking late lock-up that cost him a shot at re-taking the championship lead after this astonishing Azerbaijan Grand Prix finish.

    Before the drivers began their formation laps, a one-minute silence was held in memory of long-time McLaren shareholder Mansour Ojjeh and former FIA President Max Mosley – while those around the paddock also took time to remember their late friend and colleague, F1 camera person Thomas Bonnecarrere.

    Cloudy skies overlooked the Baku City Circuit as the wind picked up on the formation lap, but there was no risk of rain amid high temperatures. The heat was on, then, with Red Bull arriving in Azerbaijan just one point ahead of Mercedes; third-place starter Max Verstappen four points ahead of front-row starter Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ championship.

    But all eyes were on pole-sitter Charles Leclerc as the lights went out, the Ferrari driver starting this race (unlike in Monaco) and he led away, with Hamilton, Verstappen, and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez – having picked up P4 from Carlos Sainz and Pierre Gasly in the opening lap – in tow.

    Who needs DRS? That was the question Hamilton asked on Lap 2 when he found himself in Leclerc’s slipstream after the pole-sitter made a mistake at Turn 15. Hamilton swept by on the straight and was in the lead, Leclerc hanging on and Verstappen feeling a creeping sense of frustration that he couldn’t take P2 off the Ferrari.

    That frustration was duly quashed on Lap 7 when Verstappen activated DRS to fly past Leclerc for second place on Baku’s monstrous straight. Leclerc fell to P4 a lap later as Perez went past the Ferrari in a similar move.

    The pit window blew wide open on Lap 12, as Hamilton pitted for hards, with every driver in the top 13 having started on softs. But he was held up by Gasly’s AlphaTauri, cruising past in the pit lane, and suffered a 4.6 second stop to emerge fourth. With Red Bull wary of the undercut, Verstappen pitted a lap later for hards and ended up in front thanks to a 1.9 second stop.

    Perez had a brief window of clean air and set blistering pace, but his stop on Lap 12 was not as swift as Verstappen’s, so he came out of the pits in second – splitting the two championship rivals. Hamilton gave chase with nothing but the RB16B’s bumper in view, but could not make a move stick.

    Cue a heart-stopping moment on Lap 31 when Lance Stroll’s left-rear tyre appeared to give way on the main straight and he spun at high speed, a heavy impact into the wall following. He emerged shaken, but fortunately unhurt. The Safety Car was thus deployed for a lengthy clean-up of aero parts and shards of carbon-fibre strewn on track.

    Verstappen snaked around the circuit ahead of Perez, Hamilton, Gasly, and Leclerc for the Lap 35 Safety Car restart, and the Red Bulls stayed ahead of Hamilton. Behind, there was a brilliant battle between Gasly, Leclerc, and Sebastian Vettel, who was up to sixth having started on new softs from P11, only to pit on Lap 18 – which was later than anyone else.

    Vettel managed a brilliant pass on former team mate Leclerc at Turn 1 on the restart, the Monegasque locking up both front tyres in defence of his position and almost careering into Gasly. The four-time champion then took P4 off Gasly a lap later on the main straight, leaving the AlphaTauri driver to exclaim “That’s not possible!” on the radio. Positions stayed static at the front.

    Then another bombshell moment struck on Lap 47 when Verstappen’s left rear tyre also appeared to fail and another high-speed accident on the main straight followed. The race leader was unhurt, but out, leaving Red Bull without a first one-two in Baku and Verstappen without a chance to extend his championship lead. What seemed a comfortable victory was dashed in a milli-second.

    A Safety Car followed and then a red flag on Lap 48. Everything came to a standstill, the drivers stopping in the pits for 35 minutes to aid a lengthy clean-up. And the race would restart, drivers starting from their new slots on the grid, on Lap 50 of 51, all having changed tyres. Crucially, Vettel had a brand new set of softs in the bank. Perez would lead Hamilton, Vettel, Gasly, and Leclerc in P5 – whose Lap 10 undercut attempt on Gasly, starting P4, had not worked.

    Lights out once again for a two-lap sprint to the flag, and Hamilton seemed to have his nose in front of Perez. The championship leader had, minutes before, maintained on the radio that he would not take huge risks, as there is a long season ahead. Then he locked up massively, going off into the Turn 1 run-off area, before continuing to eventually come home P15 and out of the points.

    In astonishing circumstances, Perez had his first Baku victory, first win with his new team, and crucial points for Red Bull. Vettel came home second from 11th, and Gasly, having held off Leclerc’s numerous attempts to overtake, took third to leave the pole-sitter fourth.

    Penalised three grid places to P9 for a red-flag violation in qualifying, Lando Norris fell to P11 at the start. He was under pressure from McLaren to keep the pace up with team mate Daniel Ricciardo just behind and Valtteri Bottas ahead, the Mercedes driver having endured a difficult qualifying session. Norris undercut Bottas on Lap 8 and rallied on the late Safety Car restart to finish a brilliant fifth, even threatening Gasly for the final podium place on Lap 50.

    Although Fernando Alonso benefited from Norris’s grid penalty, his undercut attempt on Lap 8 was undone by less-than-ideal pace and he was soon passed by Norris and the other McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo, leaving the two-time champion as low as 12th. But a gamble to pit for softs during the Safety Car for Stroll’s accident paid off, and he ended up sixth for Alpine, leaving AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda in P7 where he started.

    Carlos Sainz finished eighth having been as low as 14th, shrugging off a Turn 8 lock-up after his first pit-stop. He finished ahead of McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, who started 13th and benefited from the stricken cars ahead to take ninth.

    Kimi Raikkonen took the last point, for Alfa Romeo. The veteran started on mediums and passed his team mate Giovinazzi for the final point on Lap 50. Giovinazzi himself enjoyed a recovery from last to 11th, however, having taken four places in the opening lap and pitting for hards before his rivals to make up more places.

    But it was a dire day for Mercedes as Valtteri Bottas also finished outside the points. The Finn qualified P10 but struggled throughout, losing places during the Safety Car restart for Stroll’s accident to finish 12th.

    That left Haas racer Mick Schumacher 13th, despite an unsafe relief during the first Safety Car period that left him being wheeled back into his box to re-fit his left-front tyre, and Nikita Mazepin 14th, despite being one lap down at one point. Hamilton was classified a lowly 15th for his late lock-up.

    Nicholas Latifi, under investigation for a red flag infringement, finished 16th while Williams team mate George Russell pulled into the pits on Lap 50 to finish 17th. Esteban Ocon was the race’s first retiree, a power unit issue stopping his Alpine on Lap 4.

    But it was Perez who will leave Baku with the widest smile – on a day when neither of the early-season title protagonists managed to score any points after an extraordinary race in Azerbaijan.

  2. Checo Perez came close to retiring his car before late Baku victory. has the full details.

    Sergio Perez came close to retiring his car from Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix before snatching a late victory after Red Bull Formula 1 teammate Max Verstappen’s tyre failure.

    After qualifying sixth on Saturday, Perez was able to battle through to third place before pitting, where he managed to jump ahead of Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.

    Red Bull looked set for a 1-2 finish before leader Verstappen suffered a tyre failure with four laps to go, causing the race to be red-flagged.

    It set up a two-lap sprint finish with a standing restart, but Perez was able to keep his cool and retain his lead to score his second F1 victory, and his first since joining Red Bull.

    Perez felt “so happy” to have won the race, but expressed his sympathy towards Verstappen after his DNF, before revealing that he was also close to not finishing as well with an unspecified issue.

    “First of all I have to say I’m very sorry for Max because he did a tremendous race, and he really deserved that the win,” Perez said.

    “It would have been incredible to get that 1-2 for the team. But at the end, you know it is a fantastic day for us.

    “We were close to retiring the car, but luckily we managed to finish the race. And really, it was quite difficult all the way until the end.”

    Perez’s race engineer was heard telling the Mexican driver to stop his car at pit exit after crossing the finish line, leaving him to return to parc ferme on foot.

    Red Bull team principal Christian Horner revealed after the race that it was an hydraulic issue that left Perez at risk of not finishing.

    Perez’s race engineer was heard telling the Mexican driver to stop his car at pit exit after crossing the finish line, leaving him to return to parc ferme on foot.

    “He was nursing an hydraulic issue as well that we were really concerned that the car wouldn’t get to the end of the race, which is why he stopped after the chequered flag,” Horner said.

    “You thought that we could only lose when they got the restart, but thankfully it all worked out tremendously well, and Sergio did a great, great job.”

    On the standing restart, Perez was beaten off the line by Hamilton, only for the Mercedes driver to go straight on at Turn 1 and drop to the back of the field, eventually finishing 15th.

    “At the start, I had a poor start and he was alongside me but I was like, I’m not going to miss it,” Perez said.

    “I broke as late as I possibly can and he did the same. It didn’t work for him. At least it’s a good day for for the team. This is definitely a strong boost of confidence for both myself and the team.”

    The result sees Perez move up to third place in the drivers’ championship, as well as single-handedly extending Red Bull’s lead over Mercedes in the constructors’ standings to 26 points.

  3. Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel commented that tyre management was key to his first podium. has the details.

    Sebastian Vettel believes the way he looked after his tyres during his first stint at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix was key to his first Formula 1 podium with Aston Martin.

    The German made the most of a lengthy opening stint in the race to move up the order, and then benefited from having fresh soft tyres available for the restart after the red flag to grab runner-up spot behind race winner Sergio Perez.

    Looking back on how the race panned out from 11th on the grid, Vettel reckoned that it was the opening stage that proved critical, especially having been able to start on a new soft tyre rather than one that had been used throughout Q2.

    “I think strategy wise obviously it’s always better to start further up,” he said. “The new tyre for sure didn’t hurt, because other people had a couple of laps on from qualifying.

    “So it helped us to go longer, but we really preserve the tyres well and I think that was the secret, plus the pace that we had. I think in the race the car felt good and it was the key to keep progressing and chipping forward.”

    Vettel said that the podium form had been a surprise, even though the car had felt quite solid throughout practice in Baku.

    “I mean, I’m over the moon,” he explained. “I think this is great, obviously a podium. We didn’t expect that when we came here.

    “But already on Friday, even though we were nowhere, it felt good. I was quite relaxed. Yesterday, we didn’t quite get it. But today is even sweeter.”

    Vettel also acknowledged that the podium felt especially good because of the big difficulties he had had adapting to the Aston Martin at the start of the year.

    “I think it means a great deal,” he said. “Obviously. It’s been a tough start for us. I think it was a great race and we had good pace. That was the key.

    “Obviously, I had a good start , made up some positions right straight away, then looked after my tyres as soon as everybody went to the pits.”

  4. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton explains ‘magic button’ incident that led to restart off at Turn 1. has the details.

    Lewis Hamilton’s lock-up at the restart of Formula 1’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix was caused by him accidentally hitting the ‘magic button’ on his steering wheel that alters brake balance.

    Hamilton had surged into the lead of the race from the standing restart after the late red-flag period, but it all went wrong when he hit the brakes.

    His fronts locked up instantly and he careered down the escape road and slumped to the back of the field, leaving the way open for Sergio Perez to win.

    Speaking on team radio after the race, Hamilton questioned whether he had made a mistake in triggering the team’s famous ‘magic’ button.

    Speaking to his engineers, he said: “Did I leave the magic on? I could have sworn I turned that off.”

    Mercedes uses a button system to help its drivers better warm up their tyres and brakes during formation laps and safety car restarts.

    It shifts the brake balance towards the front wheels, and the extra braking force that is applied produces extra heat in the discs that is then radiated to the front tyres.

    The magic button is usually disconnected for the race start when the brake balance returns to the ideal settings for race laps.

    However, Hamilton suspects that he hit it somehow to reactive it as he formed up on the grid alongside Perez, triggering the lock-up.

    Asked to explain what happened he said: “I’m not entirely sure, but I hit some sort of switch that caused only the front brakes to work.

    “There’s a button we have to help keep the front brakes up [to temperature] and, as Perez pulled over, I reacted and accidentally latched on the switch. It just locked up and I went straight on.”

    Toto Wolff said after the race that Hamilton had somehow accidentally triggered the magic button, and was unaware until he hit the brakes.

    “We have the same procedure,” Wolff told Sky. “He touched a button and the brake balance changed. The brake balance went all the way forward and obviously the car didn’t stop. It was a finger problem.”

  5. AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly worried engine problem could cost him podium finish. has the news story.

    Pierre Gasly has revealed that he was battling an engine problem during Formula 1’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix that he feared could cost him a podium finish.

    The AlphaTauri driver had shown strong pace throughout the Baku weekend, initially running fourth, but faded somewhat in the race as the leaders pulled away from him.

    He then made clear some frustrations over the team radio after Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel was able to draft past him on the straight midway through.

    At that stage, Gasly was battling an engine that was down on power, leaving him very exposed to rivals on the straight.

    “It was very difficult for me mid-race onwards with an engine issue,” he said. “We were losing quite a lot of power down the straights and Seb managed to pass us in the middle of the race.”

    He added: “It was clearly a pretty big difference with Yuki [Tsunoda], for example. So the guys told me a lot of engine switches to try to limit the damage.

    “I was very strong in the second sector but the straight was very hard. When Seb passed me, I could literally not do anything there.”

    Before the red flag restart, where Gasly was running fourth, he feared that the problem would allow other cars to get past him, meaning he had to fight aggressively with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

    “I knew in those last two laps, whatever I will do, I knew that Charles behind will pass me on the straight,” he said. “And that’s what happened.

    “So I just got back in the tow and went for it in turn one. He came back at me in turn three and I had to brake very late.

    “Then I really pushed the brakes to the limit with Seb. I thought I was going to end in the wall there. I managed to stop it somehow, I don’t know how, but it was late braking.

    “And with Charles, it was the same. I really wanted that podium. I took some big risks, but it was clearly worth it.”

    After a difficult start to 2021, where Gasly has been unable to deliver strong results on the back of impressive pace from his car, he could not hide his delight at the top three finish.

    “It was such an insane race and, you know, super intense last two laps,” he said. “The car has been incredible all weekend and you know we saw every session we were there.

    “Qualifying was mega but I didn’t know if we could keep up that position or fight for even a podium. In the end we did it. I have had one first and one second now, and I was missing that third place, so it feels incredible to get that podium.”

  6. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen was left feeling angry with this non-finish and commented that Pirelli will blame debris for Baku Formula 1 tyre blowouts. has the full story.

    Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has hit out at Pirelli after the tyre blowout which cost him the Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix win, suggesting the manufacturer will blame debris.

    Verstappen dominated the race after taking the lead from title rival Lewis Hamilton during the pitstops. The Dutchman looked on course for a certain win until his left-rear tyre failed with five laps ago and he suffered a massive shunt on Baku’s long start-finish straight.

    Verstappen was the second driver to have a left-rear medium tyre fail, with Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll subjected to a similar fate earlier in the race.

    Speaking straight after the race, Verstappen said he was “pissed off” because of what happened, suggesting that Pirelli would blame debris for the two blowouts rather than take responsibility.

    “I didn’t feel anything up until the moment that I suddenly went to the right, the tyre just blew off the rim and it’s not a nice impact to have, it’s quite a dangerous place to have a tyre blowout at that speed,” he told TV crews.

    “For sure [there will be talks with Pirelli] but we know the result from that conversation already and that’s a bit hard to accept.

    “It will be related to debris, it’s like that. I’m sure there will be talks, Pirelli isn’t happy with what happened here today, but it doesn’t change anything to the race and the result I got here.

    “Of course I’m pissed off because of what happened today. It was a fairly easy race for me.

    “Sometimes this sport is very harsh when things like this happen, it’s shit.”

    Verstappen, who also suffered a tyre failure at Imola’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, said he doubted debris could have been a factor given that cars were following the same line every lap to get a tow from the car in front, and explained he didn’t wear out the tyres too much.

    “I don’t think so, I wasn’t stressing the tyres. It felt comfortable and I didn’t feel any vibrations before it let go,” he explained.

    “[Debris] is difficult. We’re doing the same line every lap because everyone wants to be in the slipstream. It’s very weird that it happens to me.

    “I think they cleaned the track [after the Stroll crash] but Pirelli is probably going to say it was carbon debris on track.

    “It was like that in Imola, so that’s something you can’t say anything about. The fact is another tyre exploded, not only for me but also for Stroll.

    “It’s very frustrating, with a bit of luck we’re still in the lead of the championship but the gap could have been much bigger and that was much more important.”

  7. Pirelli Formula 1 boss Mario Isola believes that the left rear tyres failures experienced by Max Verstappen and Lance Stroll in the Azerbaijan GP could have been the results of cuts caused by debris.

    Stroll and Verstappen both suffered huge accidents on the straight after experiencing what appeared to be similar failures while running Pirelli’s C3 tyre, which was the hard compoun in Baku.

    Isola said a cut found on the left rear that came off Lewis Hamilton’s car after the red flag indicated that a similar issue may have affected the other drivers, but in the world champion’s case it had not compromised the construction.

    Isola said that sudden deflations can often point to punctures caused by debris, as a structural failure would give more advanced warning.

    However, Isola stressed that Pirelli hasn’t ruled out anything yet, and that an investigation is already under way.

    “Obviously we need to make an investigation, that is clear,” Isola told “What I have collected so far are just preliminary indications. It was sudden deflation both for Lance and for Max, without any warning.

    “It was on the rear left tyre, that is not the most stressed here, because it’s the rear right. And the other point if we talk about wear, the most worn tyre is the front right. So it is not a matter of wear.

    “Another element that is important is that we found on the rear left tyre of Lewis Hamilton, another cut, quite a big one. This was at the red flag, so in the same stint where Max crashed.

    “The cars came, they dismounted the tyres to fit a new set, we checked the used tyres, and we found a cut on the rear left.

    “Luckily, this cut was not cutting the construction. And that’s why he didn’t lose pressure. So we have evidence of another tyre with a cut.

    “The other tyres that have been used during the same thing for 30, 32, 33 laps are not showing any evidence of a potential problem. This is what I know at the moment.

    “The other step is that obviously we are air freighting the tyres to Milan tomorrow to analyse them as soon as possible. And find the real motivation that can be debris, or can be anything else.”

    Isola said he understood why Verstappen, Stroll and other drivers had expressed obvious concerns about the failures.

    “It is almost impossible to design a tyre that is able to resist to any type of debris, if it is debris. If it is not debris, we have to consider our counter actions.

    “But I fully understand that drivers crashing at that speed are worried, that is clear. I’m worried aware as well.

    “I believe it was debris, because they didn’t have any warning that there was something strange on the car, on the suspension, on the tyre, on the brake, nothing was giving any sign of failure. And it was a sudden failure.

    “So considering the rear left is not the most stressed tyre, the cut we found on Lewis’s tyre and so on, these are indications that are taking us in that direction.

    “But we don’t want to exclude anything because as Max said, these things shouldn’t happen.”


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