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Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2023

Perez leads home Verstappen in dominant Azerbaijan GP win

Sergio Perez took victory in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in commanding style, with Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen having to settle for second.

Perez win Baku
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

Sergio Perez has taken a dominant victory at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, leading Max Verstappen home in a 1-2 result for Red Bull.

After winning Saturday's Sprint race, Perez maintained his strong track record at the Baku City Circuit to claim another P1 at the venue, having maintained a decent gap to Verstappen throughout much of the race.

Charles Leclerc – who briefly led from pole in the opening laps – completed the podium in third, with Fernando Alonso finishing fourth and Carlos Sainz rounding out the top five.

Lewis Hamilton ended the day in sixth, despite trying to overtake Sainz in the latter stages.

Result Race - Azerbaijan

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Leclerc holds off Red Bull challenge - but not for long

It was a clean start at the front of the field as the 51-lap race got underway, with pole-sitter Leclerc leading away from the Red Bull duo of Verstappen and Perez.

Sainz and Hamilton challenged each other for P4 but the Spaniard held position, while there was some action further back in the pack between Oscar Piastri and Alex Albon, as well as contact between Kevin Magnussen and Valtteri Bottas.

Everyone started on the Medium tyre, barring Nyck de Vries at the back of the grid and Esteban Ocon and Nico Hulkenberg starting from the pit lane, who all opted for the Hard.

Just four laps in, Verstappen – who had been all over the back of Leclerc – utilised the DRS to make a straightforward pass on the Ferrari to take the race lead. The Dutchman quickly opened up a gap to Leclerc, while Perez looked to find a way past from P3.

The Mexican cleared Leclerc on Lap 6. Behind, several drivers looked to be struggling with tyre degradation, with some further back in the field making an early pit stop to switch to the Hard compound.

Alonso – in P6 behind Hamilton – suggested over team radio that the Mercedes looked to be experiencing graining, enabling the Aston Martin duo to close in. Hamilton subsequently became one of the first drivers in the leading positions to pit on Lap 10, bolting the Hard tyre on.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Safety Car shakes things up

Verstappen reported struggles with his own tyres before coming in on Lap 11, handing the lead to Perez who had been getting increasingly close to his teammate.

Shortly afterwards, the yellow flags came out after de Vries went on at Turn 6, seemingly unable to move his AlphaTauri.

The Safety Car was then deployed and several drivers seized the opportunity to make pit stops, including Perez, both Ferrari drivers and the Aston Martin duo.

Russell managed to get ahead of Stroll for P6 by driving alongside the Canadian into the pit lane, while Hamilton seemed to have lost out, having made his stop before the Safety Car period.

When the race resumed on Lap 14, Perez maintained his lead as Verstappen overtook Leclerc for P2, and Stroll reclaimed P6 from Russell. Alonso moved up to fourth after a move on Sainz, before Hamilton got ahead of teammate Russell for seventh.

The stewards noted a potential unsafe release and a pit entry incident for Perez and Russell respectively, before deeming that no further investigation was necessary for either.

Perez and Verstappen battle ebbs and flows

As the race edged towards the halfway mark, the Red Bull duo swapped fastest laps at the front, with Verstappen chasing race leader Perez.

There were a few close moments happening behind; Stroll had a couple of brushes with the barriers, while Ocon also made contact with a wall but looked to have gotten away with it.

Alonso appeared comfortable in fourth, so much so that the two-time World Champion was heard making a brake balance suggestion for the team to pass on to Stroll.

While the Grand Prix entered into a settled period, questions arose over if and when drivers might pit again, with some seemingly struggling on the Hard compound. Gasly was one of those to make two pit stops for another set of the Hards, putting him at the back of the field.

The fight between Perez and Verstappen also quietened down. While they continued to each put in purple laps, the gap between the two appeared steady.

By Lap 29, Verstappen had slipped back to more than two seconds behind his fellow Red Bull driver, with the Dutchman complaining over team radio about engine braking.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Tyre questions and kissing the barriers

During an initially quiet second half of the event, questions remained over whether the Hard compound would last until the end as Perez – known for his 'tyre whispering' skills – continued to lead.

Verstappen had a minor moment when the rear of his RB19 briefly kissed the wall, but seemingly no damage done.

A few laps later, Perez was asked by his engineer if something had happened at Turn 15, leading the Mexican to confirm that he had clipped the barrier.

Meanwhile, Sainz's Ferrari crew informed him that they expected the tyre to last for the remainder of the race, while Bottas made a third pit stop for a set of the Mediums.

The Finn's Alfa Romeo teammate Zhou Guanyu retired from the running on Lap 38 due to a mechanical issue, making him the second DNF of the afternoon after de Vries.

Final battles

In the closing 10 laps of the race, some drivers looked keen to make some final moves.

Hamilton stayed on the tail of Sainz in the battle for fifth, while Alonso made positive noises about the possibility of catching Leclerc for third, despite being faced with a four-second gap.

Leclerc, however, seemingly answered this by finding some strong pace in the latter stages, and Sainz also managed to stay in front of Hamilton.

Elsewhere, Ocon and Hulkenberg – who both started from the pit lane – tried to hold out as long as possible after managing not to pit throughout the race, in the hope of a late Safety Car handing them a free pit stop.

This did not happen for the respective Alpine and Haas drivers, with Lando Norris overtaking Hulkenberg to get into a points-paying position.

There was drama for Ocon in making his stop in the dying moments of the race, at a time where people were gathering in the pit lane.

Prior to this, George Russell made a late pit stop for the Soft tyre to fight for the fastest lap, succeeding in sealing the accolade. The Briton finished in P8 behind Stroll in seventh, while Norris and Yuki Tsunoda rounded out the top 10.

F1 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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