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Hakkinen: Verstappen has Perez to thank for Baku win

Max Verstappen is now 21 points clear at the top of the F1 standings after his win at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, a race in which Sergio Perez was asked not to fight his teammate.

F1 legend Mika Hakkinen believes that Max Verstappen has Sergio Perez to thank for his Azerbaijan Grand Prix victory, after the Mexican driver was asked not to fight his teammate. Perez was the quicker Red Bull throughout practice and qualifying before taking the lead from Charles Leclerc on Lap 1 of the race. He remained in P1 for the early stages of the event, but was told "no fighting" when a fast-charging Verstappen arrived behind him on Lap 15. The Mexican obliged and, just weeks on from a Spanish Grand Prix in which he was given an identical request, he obliged. "Max has Checo [Perez] to thank for the win, in my opinion, not only in accepting the team's strategy but also in having a five-second pit-stop at a key moment in the race," explained Hakkinen, speaking to UniBet . "Red Bull really does have the benefit of two strong winners in their team, while Ferrari is suffering, with Carlos Sainz Jr having a lot of poor luck as well as [being] unable to match the pace of Charles."

Perez impressing with newfound confidence

Hakkinen has been impressed by Perez in 2022, with the 32-year-old – after just eight races – having already matched his number of race wins and podiums from the 2021 season. "Checo is doing a really fantastic job of supporting Max at Red Bull," Hakkinen said. "After his win in Monaco, he came to Baku and was quickest in two of the practice sessions, and ahead of Max in all of them. "To then qualify second behind Charles and take the lead at the start shows just how much confidence Checo has in himself and the car."

Hakkinen believes Red Bull are the complete package

But as Ferrari struggled once again with reliability problems, Red Bull have proven for Hakkinen they are the complete package, with a fast and reliable car that has made them the team to beat in 2022. Verstappen now counts a World Championship lead of 21 points, with Red Bull 80 points ahead of Ferrari in the Constructors' standings. "The one thing everyone knows in F1 is that to win the championship you need that combination of speed, reliability and consistency, which is so hard to find," he added. "Ferrari has the speed, but the other aspects are not there, while Red Bull is showing exceptionally strong form everywhere. "Red Bull has some issues with reliability at the start of the season, but they have now put that behind them. Ferrari needs to do that same, and quickly!"