Red Bull’s control of the F1 season has only grown at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with both Ferraris forced to retire and Max Verstappen expanding their lead in the championship.
Both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz suffered mechanical problems, as two of the four Ferrari cars were fighting on the street circuit.
Leclerc, who was the pole for the fourth consecutive race and once again did not get the victory, becoming the first man to do so since Juan Pablo Montoya, saw his engine explode on the lap 21.
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Sergio Perez had already passed him in the first corner, but he hoped that an early stop during a virtual safety car, caused by the stop of his teammate Sainz, would allow him to catch the Red Bulls.
Verstappen beat Pérez on lap 15 and never looked back, building a 21-point lead over his teammate in the championship race and a 34-point lead over Leclerc.
Daniel Ricciardo’s luck finally turned around, with a virtual safety car at the right time caused by Kevin Magnussen, which meant his strategy to start with hard tires and go very well.
Getting a cheap stop, Ricciardo (who started 12th) came out ahead of teammate Lando Norris, and finished eighth.
Verstappen, Perez and George Russell of Mercedes took the podium with Lewis Hamilton fourth, ahead of Pierre Gasly, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso.
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Sergio Pérez took the lead after 5 minutes, as a result of Charles Leclerc’s awkward, but ultimately successful, shot from the right. A lock for Leclerc also hurt him.
Pérez already had a difference of 1.9 seconds with Leclerc after two laps completed, in a great start for the winner of the race.
Williams’ Nicholas Latifi received a 10-second penalty for a network violation after a team member touched his car when it was not allowed.
Daniel Ricciardo, who started 12th and was the top starter with hard tires with everyone ahead in the media, threatened teammate Lando Norris because of DRS on the main straight as soon as it was activated.
Max Verstappen, in third place, entered Charles Leclerc’s DRS rank on lap 5, but Ferrari – slower in a straight line – continued to hold Red Bull.
McLaren asked Ricciardo to step back and stop challenging Norris so they could overtake Esteban Ocon, 13th behind them.
“If this is his best pace, I have more,” Ricciardo told the team.
Daniel Ricciardo was told to slow down and stay behind Lando Norris after being in a second for long periods. Source: FOX SPORTS
In another disaster for Ferrari’s outfielder Carlos Sainz, he was forced to stop at turn 4 on lap 9 due to hydraulic problems and his career ended. The virtual security car has been deployed.
Leclerc played hard tires during the VSC, as did George Russell (fourth) and Lewis Hamilton, but the veteran finished behind Aston Martin’s Seb Vettel through the stops because he was held back in the pits.
The concern of those who stopped was that it was too early, given the warmer weather than expected, to make a clean run from a stop. Ricciardo was seventh, behind Norris and Fernando Alonso, still ahead, but ahead of Pierre Gasly and others.
Vettel tried to overtake Esteban Ocon for ninth, and he had made it clear, but he turned a corner and stopped towards the escape route.
Verstappen took the lead in Pérez’s race at the start of lap 15 thanks to the DRS, with Pérez telling him “don’t fight”, but Leclerc was closing in quickly knowing that if he approached, he could overtake them. at the end of the race via. a two-stop strategy.
Verstappen immediately took a three-second lead in the space of a lap, proving that he had the pace to justify taking the lead from his teammate. Perez went into breaststroke on lap 17 for hard, making a slow stop and fell in a battle with Russell for third place.
With all the cars struggling to overtake the Alpine Rapids in a straight line, Hamilton had to go into a corner to overtake Ocon for ninth place, but got the move on lap 19. Then Verstappen put his he pitted himself and fell on the track. second far behind Leclerc.
Ricciardo almost passed Norris on the first lap with the DRS, but clearly stopped just before he passed, and commentator Paul Di Resta called it “team orders.”
McLaren explained that Norris was allowed to stay in the lead to try to overtake Alonso, before Norris finally pitted and could not do so, leaving Ricciardo fourth but quickly passed by Gasly as he feared.
Leclerc’s engine exploded entering the main straight on lap 21 forcing him to retreat.
“Problem problem. Engine. It’s gone. No, no, it’s done,” he said.
Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu became the third retreat on lap 23 due to a technical problem.
Ricciardo was overtaken by Hamilton for fifth on lap 26 as the Australian tried to extend his first stage in the hard, hoping for a safety car later in the race.
Hamilton jumped on the team’s radio to declare that his back was “killing him” due to the porpoise and the blows of the Mercedes along the track down the main straight.
A fourth Ferrari-powered car was forced to retreat on lap 33 with Kevin Magnussen of Haas stopping.
The virtual security car deployed and saw Verstappen and Perez ahead.
But most importantly for the still to stop Ricciardo, he was able to gain about 10 seconds over his rivals stopping cheaply for medium tires.
He came out in ninth place, ahead of teammate Norris and with a tire advantage over Alonso, Vettel, Hamilton, Tsunoda (who didn’t stop under the VSC) and Gasly ahead of him. Ricciardo quickly ran a second faster than those ahead.
Hamilton overtook Tsunoda by fifth on lap 36, with the AlphaTauri’s DRS mechanism revealed to be broken, apparently split in half.
He gave him a black and orange flag forcing him to box due to mechanical problems, but instead of removing him, AlphaTauri confronted him and simply put a pile of duct tape on his back wing, in absolutely weird scenes.
In any case, Ricciardo was eighth, although his average tires did not really work for him, as he fell behind Alonso in seventh place.
Ricciardo fails in free practice again | 01:15
Hamilton eventually overtook Gasly by fourth on lap 44, becoming Red Bull 1-2 and Mercedes 3-4.
On lap 45, Norris was told he would be allowed to pass Ricciardo if his teammate could not pass to an Alonso who was slowing down for seventh.
But then, on lap 50, Norris was told not to beat his teammate to “return the favor” for before the race.
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