Azerbaijan GP: Sergio Perez takes yet another street circuit win

BAKU, AZERBAIJAN – APRIL 30: Race winner Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates after the F1 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan at Baku City Circuit on April 30, 2023 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202304300912 // Usage for editorial use only //

Sergio Perez took yet another street circuit win in Baku on Sunday afternoon after an excellent drive to beat his world champion teammate. A timely safety car ensured that Perez took the lead in the early stages of the race and the Mexican driver did not have to look back for the rest of the race.

Charles Leclerc started the race on pole after setting the fastest lap on Friday qualifying in the new format that kicked off this weekend. The pace of the Ferrari was simply no match for the Redbulls as both Verstappen and Perez picked off Leclerc one after the other once DRS was activated at the beginning of lap 3. The fight for victory from here on was largely between the Redbulls as they left the rest of the pack behind very swiftly.

Verstappen was just ahead of Perez around lap 8 when Nick De Vries crashed, bringing about a Safety Car. The Redbull pitwall called in Verstappen ahead of Perez while there was no safety car yet but the safety car was called in moments after Verstappen completed his pitstop and Perez gained full advantage of this. Verstappen was relegated to P3 in the aftermath and spent the rest of the race catching up to his teammate.

Ferrari had a decent outing with Leclerc getting his first podium of the season, albeit not after huge pressure from Fernando Alonso in the Aston Martin, who was chasing Leclerc until the finish line. Carlos Sainz in the other Ferrari had to fend off Lewis Hamilton to scramble to a P5 finish.

For Mercedes, it was yet another weekend of being too far away from the top while struggling to be in the battle for the 2nd best team on the grid. Hamilton tried his best after an untimely pitstop before the safety car and ended up P6 while his teammate George Russell spent the large part of the race behind Lance Stroll in the Aston martin. Although, a late pitstop at the end meant that the Englishman had the point in the bag for the fastest lap.

McLaren’s upgrades meant that Norris was in the running for the points throughout the race and the English driver finished P9 while his teammate just missed out after finishing at P11. It was a fantastic effort from the Australian despite battling illness throughout the weekend to achieve a high finish, especially after losing around 3kg in weight as informed by Mark Webber.

It was a mixed day for Alpha Tauri after Yuki Tsunoda finished in the last of the points position while his teammate Nick DeVries crashed out in the opening stages of the race. Alfa Romeo had both the cars finish out of the top 10 with Bottas at P12 and Zhou at P15, with Bottas being involved in a first lap incident and pitting three times during the course of the race.

Hulkenberg in the Haas and Ocon in the Alpine went on a bold strategy as they started the race from the pitlane. The drivers put on a set of hard tyres and drove almost until the end of the race and only pitted at the end to avoid disqualification. It was not without an incident of course when during Ocon’s pitstop on the last lap of the race, the pit lane was swarming with photographers and mechanics. The safety protocols were grossly thrown out of the window and a massive disaster was narrowly avoided and thankfully no one was hurt. Hulkenberg finished P17 while his teammate Magnussen in the other Haas finished P13. Ocon finished P15 after the whole fiasco while his teammate Gasly in the other Alpine finished P14.

The Williams of Alexander Albon finished P12 while his teammate Sargeant finished P16. They will be hoping for a change of fortunes come the Miami GP which is going to be the second one in the triple header we have going on.

Sergio Perez yet again proved that he is the king of the streets as he fended off an in form world champion teammate to take win and close the gap to 6 points to him. The Mexican driver will be fancying his chances again next Sunday as it is another street circuit with a marina in Miami.

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