Verstappen victorious in Baku as double retirement hits Ferrari

Max Verstappen took a commanding Red Bull 1-2 finish to win the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as rival Ferrari suffered a nightmare with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz was forced to retire with technical issues.

The defending champion extended his championship standings lead from nine to 34 points over Leclerc – who had started from his sixth pole position of the season – as he scored his fourth victory in five races over teammate Sergio Perez by 20.8 seconds.

Verstappen’s twenty-fifth Formula 1 triumph arrived after passing early leader Perez for the provisional lead, with Leclerc out-of-sync due to pitting in response to a virtual safety car before his engine blew shockingly.

With Sainz also eliminated as part of an extreme attrition rate for Ferrari-powered cars, the way was paved for Verstappen to win as George Russell completed the podium.

Most of the grid assembled with brand-new medium compound C4 tyres, apart from Sebastian Vettel and Kevin Magnussen (on used tyres) plus Daniel Ricciardo, Valtteri Bottas and the back row of Lance Stroll and Mick Schumacher who were all shod on the C3 hard rubber.

Perez was encouraged over radio to get his “elbows out into Turn 1” and duly delivered by taking the lead on the first corner.

Leclerc’s initially getaway was sound enough but wheelspin in the second phase allowed Perez to draw alongside at Verstappen was boxed in after the best launch of the lot.

The Ferrari driver then considerably locked-up his front-left into the opening 90-degree left-hander to run well wide of the apex and ensure Perez took the lead of the race.

Verstappen was able to have a look up the inside of Leclerc but thought better of it as Sainz tried to get in on the act before dropping adrift of the leading three cars.

Perez completed the first lap with 1.3 seconds in hand over Leclerc to immediately escape the DRS zone and extended that by half a second over the next two laps to secure first place.

With Leclerc sliding around, Verstappen was able to stick within 0.7 seconds of his title rival.

Leclerc endured a wiggle out of Turn 16, the last defined corner, to allow Verstappen to close even further with DRS before a yellow flag then virtual safety car interrupted play.

The Ferrari attack was down to one car when Carlos Sainz ran down the Turn 4 escape road with a possible power unit failure while 5 seconds behind Verstappen and 5 seconds ahead of Russell.

Ferrari rolled the dice to gain a theoretically cheaper pitstop by calling Leclerc in for a set of hard tyres on lap ten but despite no obvious error, the Scuderia took 5.4 seconds to service Leclerc.

Red Bull did not cover the strategy, giving Perez a lead of 2 seconds over Verstappen as Leclerc resumed 11 seconds behind the pair – but from lap 13 began setting the fastest laps of the race.

Verstappen was able to eat into Perez’s advantage before, who dropped 2 seconds on one lap, was told “no fighting” to allow his DRS-assisted teammate to take the lead on lap 15 into Turn 1.

At the end of the following tour, Perez pitted for softs but like front-row rival Leclerc, was hampered by a massively slow 5.7 seconds stop led by a problem with the front-right wheel.

Red Bull called Verstappen in for his jump to hards only two laps later, and he too endured a sub-par 3.5 seconds service to rejoin in the lead with a 13 seconds deficit to Leclerc – managing overheating rear tyres – as Perez nicked fastest lap from the Ferrari while running 4 seconds behind Verstappen.

But too hot tyres were the least of Leclerc’s troubles soon after as at the end of lap 20, his engine blew up through the final and he coasted into the pitlane to end Ferrari’s disaster.

After the MGU-H turbo failure in Spain, it marked the second engine-based retirement for Leclerc in three races to add to the lost Ferrari 1-2 – from strategy mistakes – in Monaco.

That left Verstappen in the lead by 5.2 seconds over Perez as fifth-starting Russell moved into podium contention ahead of Ricciardo, Pierre Gasly and Lewis Hamilton.

Verstappen would negotiate target lap times with his engineer as they tried to find a balance between preserving the car but not allowing the tyres to cool too much.

Then the virtual safety car made its second appearance to account for P16 Kevin Magnussen, who had been climbed up to P11 to battle with Ocon for points.

But then the Ferrari engine in the back of the Haas also blew, to go along with Ferrari customer Alfa Romeo having to stop Zhou Guanyu eight laps previously.

Magnussen parked up on the approach to Turn 15 and waved to the marshals to help recover the Haas VF-22, which started to roll down the hill to the apex.

Red Bull reacted by pitting Verstappen for a second time to take on a set of hard tyres to the flag, finally nailing a 2.7 seconds stop, before Perez made his stop for hards on the same lap 34.

But a rear-left delay meant more time was lost in the pitlane thanks to a 4.4 seconds stop, to give Verstappen a lead of ten seconds when the four-minute VSC interluded was over.

Although it was Perez that would walk away with the fastest lap of the evening, Verstappen’s second half race pace stretched gap to north of twenty seconds at the flag.

Russell strapped in for a lonely race but profited from the Ferrari nightmare to seal a podium despite a troubled weekend for the porpoising and draggy Mercedes W13.

Despite back pain, Lewis Hamilton climbed to fourth thanks to a spirited drive with notable overtakes on the one-stopping trio of Ricciardo, Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly.

Gasly did manage his hard tyres for the long-haul, sealing fifth as a racy Sebastian Vettel recovered strongly from an early error to climb to sixth position.

Despite starting on a used set of mediums, Vettel had been fighting with Hamilton for seventh before pitting for hards to then chase after Ocon.

The Aston Martin passed the Alpine for ninth place on lap 13 before locking up at Turn 3 to abort the corner and spin in the escape road, narrowly missing Tsunoda when resuming in P12.

Fernando Alonso was another strong climber, sealing seventh for Alpine as Ricciardo just managed to keep eighth over Lando Norris by just three tenths, the McLaren pair having each had to make their case for track position in the opening and final phase of the race as they ran on split strategies.

Ocon’s long opening stint on the hards returned the final point as Valtteri Bottas in P11 marked the highest finish for a Ferrari-powered car.

Alex Albon climbed to P12 ahead of Tsunoda, who had to pit for some tape to his rear wing after his DRS flap split in half. Schumacher crossed the line in P14.

Latifi’s afternoon was spoiled before it had really begun for the Williams driver was handed a ten second stop-go penalty when a team mechanic rolled his car back, illegally touching the car.

He was then handed a further five second penalty for failing to comply with blue flags.

Stroll joined Magnussen, Zhou and the Ferraris in the list of retirements.

So a bad race for the Scuderia with both Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc suffering technical issues. Rival Red Bull scored maximum points with this 1-2 finish at Baku and Max Verstappen extends his points lead.

Azerbaijan Grand Prix, race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:34:05.941
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull 20.823
3 George Russell Mercedes 45.995
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +71.679s
5 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri +77.299s
6 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin +84.099s
7 Fernando Alonso Alpine +88.596s
8 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren +92.207s
9 Lando Norris McLaren +92.556s
10 Esteban Ocon Alpine +108.184s
11 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo +1 lap
12 Alex Albon Williams +1 lap
13 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +1 lap
14 Mick Schumacher Haas +1 lap
15 Nicholas Latifi Williams +1 lap
16 Lance Stroll Aston Martin DNF
– Kevin Magnussen Haas DNF
– Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo DNF
– Charles Leclerc Ferrari DNF
– Carlos Sainz Ferrari DNF

3 thoughts to “Verstappen victorious in Baku as double retirement hits Ferrari”

  1. Race review as reported by

    Max Verstappen led a Red Bull one-two in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after retirements for Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, giving Mercedes’ George Russell P3 at Baku.

    Pole-sitter Charles Leclerc lost the lead at the start but regained it when the leading Red Bull of Max Verstappen pitted on Lap 19. One lap later, Leclerc’s race went up in a puff of smoke and he crawled back to the pits to retire. This would be Ferrari’s second retirement of the race as Carlos Sainz stopped with a hydraulic failure on Lap 9.

    Leclerc’s DNF left Verstappen ahead of Sergio Perez (who took fastest lap) in a one-two for Red Bull, with Mercedes driver Russell promoted into the final podium place, having started fifth.

    Team mate and Driver of the Day Lewis Hamilton started seventh and finished fourth having pitted during the VSC on Lap 10 and the following one on Lap 34, passing Pierre Gasly 10 laps later with the benefit of newer tyres. The AlphaTauri driver finished fifth having started sixth.

    Sebastian Vettel took P6 for Aston Martin having begun the race on medium tyres, pitting during the first VSC and finishing the race on hards.

    Alpine’s Fernando Alonso started 10th but made it up to seventh having begun on medium tyres, going long on his first stint and pitting after 18 laps to finish the race on hard tyres and beat both McLarens to P7.

    Daniel Ricciardo finished eighth from 12th, starting on hards to jump Lando Norris (P9). Rounding out the top 10 was Esteban Ocon, who started from 13th on hard tyres and took the final point for Alpine.

    Valtteri Bottas missed out on points in P11, the Alfa Romeo driver having begun on hard tyres and, like Ricciardo, pitted during the second VSC of the race.

    Alex Albon made it up to P12 for Williams after starting 17th. He finished ahead of Yuki Tsunoda, the AlphaTauri driver dropping from sixth to 13th late on with a DRS issue.

    Mick Schumacher took 14th ahead of Nicholas Latifi, 15 seconds-worth of penalties leaving him 15th and last.

    Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu was the third retiree of the race, the #24 pulling into the pits on Lap 24. He was joined by Kevin Magnussen, whose stoppage brought out the second VSC of the race, and Lance Stroll, a suspected engine issue stopping the Aston Martin driver three laps from the end.

    Azerbaijan has hosted high drama in all four of its previous Grands Prix, the Land of Fire always eager to turn the heat up. After Sergio Perez crashed Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen’s party in Monaco, those three drivers entered Baku gunning for maximum points in their chase for the championship.

    With Leclerc on pole, Perez would join him on the front row, while Verstappen would start from P3 alongside Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz. Behind would be George Russell from P5 and Pierre Gasly – every driver down to Lando Norris, starting 11th, on medium compounds, with Zhou Guanyu, Kevin Magnussen and Alex Albon the three others to begin on yellow tyres.

    “Elbows out into Turn 1, it’s all to play for” – those were the words in Sergio Perez’s ear as the formation lap got under way. And as the lights went out, the Mexican proved he understood the assignment, launching well and scything down the inside of Leclerc, who locked up going into the first left-hander.

    Leclerc was therefore sandwiched between the Red Bulls, Verstappen holding P3 ahead of Sainz from P4. By Lap 5, Perez had opened his lead to two seconds while Verstappen was bearing down on Leclerc, stalking his rival through the narrow castle section. Red Bull’s race pace was clearly paying dividends.

    Other movers at the start included Sebastian Vettel, up to P8 off Yuki Tsunoda, while Albon made up two places up to P15 – but lost a place to Magnussen soon after. As for Nicholas Latifi, he copped a 10-second stop-go penalty after his mechanic touched his car after the 15-second start procedure warning.

    Leclerc now had to keep his elbows out as Verstappen’s DRS-enabled wing opened on the 1.2-mile straight – and soon after the leader would choose to pit for hard tyres…

    It was pain for Ferrari on Lap 9, a Virtual Safety Car deployed as Sainz’s hydraulics failed and saw him stop at Turn 4. Leclerc’s pit stop for hard tyres under that VSC was slow, and he’d emerge over 10 seconds behind Verstappen in P3. Russell took the opportunity to pit from P4, as did Pierre Gasly from eighth. Red Bull didn’t respond, the Virtual Safety Car ending for Perez to begin Lap 11.

    “Those who pitted have to do a bad one-stop or convert to a two-stop,” sixth place Norris was told on the radio.

    With 40 laps remaining, Leclerc faced a 12-second gap to Verstappen, while Perez had the reigning champion two seconds behind.

    Verstappen would reel in his team mate and by the end of Lap 14, he was in DRS range, sweeping past with ease down the inside of Turn 1. Meanwhile, Leclerc had turned up his pace with successive fastest laps and was just eight seconds behind Perez.

    The Mexican was switched to hard compounds from his starting mediums on Lap 16, a slow stop of 5.7 seconds hurting his race further as he emerged third, 18 seconds behind leader and team mate Verstappen.

    There were two (short-lived) trains in the midfield, both led by Alpine. The first was led by Fernando Alonso from P5 with two McLarens of Norris, Daniel Ricciardo, then Pierre Gasly trailing. The second train was led by hard-tyred starter Esteban Ocon from ninth ahead of Lewis Hamilton and a gaggle of midfielders.

    Ocon, still yet to pit, was passed by Hamilton down the inside of Turn 3 on Lap 1, while Alonso would finally pit on Lap 18 to let the McLarens by, the Spaniard emerging 16th. Ricciardo would begin to attack Norris for P5 with Gasly bearing down behind.

    The lead would change once again on Lap 18 when Verstappen took his chance to pit, a modest 3.5 seconds seeing him shoot off on hard compounds and emerge second with a 13.5-second deficit to Leclerc ahead.

    “Problem, problem, engine.”

    Smoke signalled even more woe for Ferrari on Lap 20; a distraught Leclerc forced to crawl back into the pits in a double retirement for the Scuderia. For the second time in three races, the Monegasque had retired from the lead.

    Verstappen now enjoyed a five-second lead over Perez, Russell another nine seconds back and on course for a Mercedes podium.

    AlphaTauri’s Gasly was also on the pace, his hard tyres (fitted during the VSC) helping him take P4 off Ricciardo on Lap 21. Yuki Tsunoda had also pitted during the VSC and passed Ocon for P7 on the same lap. Both were now chasing a Mercedes.

    Hamilton wasn’t content with being chased and instead turned the pressure on Ricciardo, still on his starting set of hards, ahead, passing him for P5 on Lap 27 at Turn 3. Fourth place Gasly lay only 3.6s ahead, but porpoising began to cause some pain for the seven-time champion.

    Another Ferrari-powered car retired on Lap 33, Haas’s Kevin Magnussen bringing out a VSC as he crawled to a halt.

    That was the cue for leaders Verstappen, Perez and Russell to take a free pit stop, while Ricciardo and Ocon decided to make their sole stops of the race having begun on hard compounds. Hamilton, in chase of Gasly, made an aggressive gamble to pit for another set of hards to emerge sixth behind a pair of AlphaTauris donned with 25-lap-old hard compounds.

    Hamilton made light work of Tsunoda, driving well out of Turn 16 and drafting past the Japanese driver (who seemed to have sprung a DRS issue) to start Lap 36 in P5. Tsunoda was soon forced to pit to fix his malfunctioning rear wing, dashing his hopes of P6 as the mechanics taped down the wing and told him not to use DRS anymore.

    Verstappen was told to control his pace up front given the Ferrari retirements, reliability now the concern for Red Bull. He was also told not to use DRS.

    Hamilton was within DRS range of Gasly on Lap 43, the Frenchman told to keep it clean over the radio and not lose valuable points for the team. Gasly defended sensibly over the next lap and only lost P4 to Hamilton going into Turn 3 on the following tour.

    From then, the top five would remain unchanged, Verstappen taking his fifth win of the season by over 20 seconds with Perez, fastest lap to his name, the runner-up. Russell took the final podium place, taking full advantage of Ferrari’s troubles.

    Behind Gasly was Vettel, the four-time champion pitting during the first VSC and shrugging off a mistake soon after, which saw him go off at Turn 3, to finish sixth – inheriting that final place when Tsunoda, 13th, pulled in with his DRS issue.

    Alonso managed to hold on for 18 laps on his starting set of mediums, completing – like Gasly and Vettel ahead – a one-stop strategy to beat both McLarens to P7. The Alpine driver was under pressure from Ricciardo late on but held him off by four seconds.

    Ricciardo meanwhile only held on to P8 by 0.3s, the Australian benefitting from a stop during the Lap 33 VSC to finish just ahead of team mate Norris, who began on mediums and pitted on Lap 21 to finish the race on hards in an opposite strategy to Ricciardo.

    Esteban Ocon mirrored Ricciardo’s strategy and took the final point having started 13th.

    Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas never seemed to be in contention for points. On the same strategy as Ocon and Ricciardo ahead, he did made it up from 15th but was running behind Zhou Guanyu – before the rookie was forced to retire.

    “Are you kidding me, again?” asked an incredulous Zhou when asked to stop his Alfa Romeo on Lap 24. A third DNF in four Grands Prix only compounded the rookie’s pain.

    Alex Albon took 12th, pitting during the first VSC and completing a two-stop race. He finished ahead of Tsunoda, the Japanese driver attempting in vain to pry P12 off the Williams with a late swap to soft tyres when he was called in to fix the DRS issue.

    Mick Schumacher was next on the board for Haas, finishing well ahead of Nicholas Latifi in the other Williams. Latifi finished last and 15th having taken a 10-second stop-go penalty for his mechanic touching his car after the 15-second warning on the grid, and a subsequent five-second penalty for ignoring blue flags in the Lap 43-44 Hamilton-Gasly battle.

    Verstappen therefore leads the drivers’ championship by 21 points over Perez as Leclerc has dropped down to third – while Red Bull enjoy an 80-point lead over Ferrari in the constructors’ championship heading to Canada.

  2. This was another DNF for Charles Leclerc and the Ferrari driver was left feeling baffled by the Scuderia’s recent reliability disaster. has the news story.

    Charles Leclerc does not understand why Ferrari’s reliability has fallen apart since its strong start to the Formula 1 season.

    The Monegasque driver suffered his second engine failure in three races on Sunday after a terminal issue put him out of the lead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

    The latest problem, which comes just two races after an engine failure cost him victory at the Spanish Grand Prix, has left the door open for title rival Max Verstappen to further extend his advantage at the top of the championship standings to 34 points.

    Leclerc said the pain of the latest retirement was hard to accept, as he said there was no logical explanation for why Ferrari was now suffering such a poor finishing rate having won two of the first three races of the campaign.

    “We’ve been fast and we didn’t have particularly big problems in the first part of the season,” he told Sky.

    “Now, it seems that we have a bit more compared to the beginning of the season, when we didn’t change anything. If anything, we made the thing better.

    “So it’s difficult to understand for now. But we will have to analyse obviously. I don’t have the full picture of what happened today.”

    Leclerc urged his Ferrari team to try to get to the bottom of exactly what has gone wrong in recent weeks to ensure that it does not continue to leave him with no reward for the swift pace of its F1-75 challenger.

    “It hurts,” said Leclerc. “We really need look into it for that to not happen again. I don’t really find the right words to describe obviously. It’s very, very disappointing. We really need to look into it.”

    Leclerc’s retirement is Spain cost him valuable engine components and it is possible that the Bahrain failure may force him to go for fresh components that put him a step closer to a grid penalty.

    “I don’t know. I have no news,” he said about the penalty situation. “Obviously, there still is disappointment. I came from the car straight to here and didn’t speak to anybody from the team, so I don’t know what went wrong.”

    Leclerc’s retirement capped a disappointing day for Ferrari with his teammate Carlos Sainz also retiring after suffering an hydraulic problem.

  3. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen sure he would have caught Charles Leclerc in Baku Formula 1 race. has the full details.

    Max Verstappen was confident he could have caught Charles Leclerc when his Formula 1 world title rival was leading the Azerbaijan Grand Prix before the Monegasque’s Ferrari engine failed.

    The Red Bull driver clinched victory in Baku after beating teammate Sergio Perez, having seen Leclerc retire with an engine problem on lap 20.

    Leclerc had been leading the race having pitted before both Red Bulls under a virtual safety car, and once Verstappen pitted he faced a 13-second deficit to the Ferrari driver, but speaking after the race the Dutch driver was confident he had the pace to overhaul Leclerc before the Monegasque’s enforced retirement.

    “I think today we had an incredible pace in the car, we could really look after the tyres and we could chip away at it, pass for the lead,” Verstappen said. “But then, of course also, maybe a tiny bit lucky because with the retirement.

    “But I think nevertheless, our car was really good today. So I could have closed that gap. Then of course you have a race on your hands.

    “But overall, yeah, really, really happy with how the balance of the car was today.”

    Verstappen also said he found a better set-up and tyre performance with his Red Bull in race trim, having struggled to match Perez over a single lap in qualifying and practice, which he said was key to his victory charge.

    “I don’t know, just tyre behaviour together with just general grip, of course, of the car,” he explained.

    “And that’s what you need around here, that you can look after your tyres. So at the end, to have a 1-2 as a team as well, it was a really good day for us.”

    Verstappen has recorded his 25th career F1 win and coupled with Leclerc’s DNF he now leads the world drivers’ championship by 21 points from Red Bull teammate Perez, the Mexican moving up to second.

    Having taken a maximum points haul in Baku with a 1-2 and Perez clinching the bonus point for the fastest lap, Red Bull extended its lead at the top of the F1 world constructors’ standings to 80 points over Ferrari.

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