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Formula 1

Winners and losers from the F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

All square at the top of the championship tables as neither Max Verstappen or Lewis Hamilton managed to score points - let's pick out some of the winners and losers of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Article
To news overview © Mercedes

Red Bull's Sergio Perez took victory on the streets of Baku, ahead of a jubilant Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly.

An immensely happy podium, there are some obvious winners from Sunday's race. Some obvious losers, too, so let's pick out the winners and losers from the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The winners

Sergio Perez

Perez finally managed a weekend that befit what Red Bull have hired him for. So impressive was the Mexican, Christian Horner revealed that his pace on the in-lap to the pits was so good that he could have actually jumped Max Verstappen through the stops had his pit stop been a little cleaner.

Perez's job is to be an able tail gunner for Verstappen, and he did this with aplomb throughout the whole race. Fending off Hamilton's advances, Perez's job was then to step in when Verstappen's race fell apart. This he also did, although did get a bit lucky with Hamilton making an error.

With one single result, Perez has managed to wipe out all the whispers and pressure that's been on his shoulders since the start of the season.

Max Verstappen

Given how his race ended, it might not seem like a win for Max Verstappen. But, compared to what it could have been, Max leaving Azerbaijan still leading the championship is a massive save.

Verstappen was able to control the race quite easily, with Red Bull coming from behind to wrest the initiative away from Mercedes in the early stages - something that should give them great confidence going forward.

It all looked like a championship hammer blow was about to be dealt by Mercedes, but Verstappen's day was saved by Hamilton's brake setting error. That moment turned Verstappen's frown upside down and, given that the Dutch driver has now taken a bit of overdue bad luck and gotten a DNF out of the way, can reset for France.

Sebastian Vettel

A very obvious Sunday winner, and a drive befitting the German's credentials. Vettel was simply immense on Sunday, with decisive overtakes, tremendous pace, and an ability to whisper along on his starting soft tyres.

He'll have gotten tremendous satisfaction from swooping past Charles Leclerc at the restart, wrong-footing his former teammate to show that the old Sebastian that Monaco suggested was in there is still very much present.

With Aston Martin starting to figure their car out in 2021, there will be more opportunities for Vettel to show his class this year and continue rebuilding the status he has lost.

Fernando Alonso

Granted, Alonso was nowhere for most of the race, with Alpine struggling for pace throughout.

An early swap from the soft to the hard compound saw Alonso challenge for the very low points places but he looked set for a pointless finish until the final red flag.

Fitting out with used softs for the standing restart, Alonso swooped past three cars at the first corner and then passed Tsunoda around the outside of Turn 5.

Taking a sixth place that really wasn't 'deserved', it was the kind of opportunistic driving that Alonso is particularly adept at.

Pierre Gasly

Another worthy winner, as Gasly continued to show the improvement he and AlphaTauri have made since the start of the season.

A minor engine issue prevented him from being able to properly fight off Vettel, but Gasly was inch-perfect in his battle with Leclerc as he and the Ferrari driver danced their way through the first sector.

Don't be surprised if Gasly ends up stealing some points away from Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton at some races this year, as the second Red Bull team look more than capable of springing a few surprises.

The losers

Lewis Hamilton

What a missed opportunity for Hamilton, which is very unlike him. On a day where it seemed he could snatch a hugely unlikely victory away from a dominant Red Bull, a minor brake setting error saw him go sailing off into the distance at Turn 1.

In an instant, what would have been a reasonably significant championship result went begging and doomed Hamilton to a scoreless finish.

Unlike Verstappen, whose failure was caused by something outside his and Red Bull's control, Hamilton's non-score was down to an actual error, however minor, and his dejected demeanour after the race illustrated that perfectly.

It's a hugely significant moment to see Hamilton, not for the first time this season, make an error while under pressure and chasing the race. But, if anyone can come back stronger from such a moment, it's Lewis.

Mercedes

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, it would still have been a lucky win for Mercedes had it worked out. The W12 was simply no match for the Red Bull in Azerbaijan, and it was only Hamilton's relentless pace and uncanny ability to follow other cars closely that kept him in the game.

Mercedes looked completely out of sorts all weekend, at a track that's the polar opposite of Monte Carlo. Valtteri Bottas might as well have not bothered catching the flight that took him to Azerbaijan late on Thursday, such was his anonymity throughout the entire weekend.

Mercedes are now a team that are struggling to understand their car, have tailed off on any further development of the W12, and have a second driver that, when he's off form, is struggling to score points. All of this against a Red Bull team that seem a more versatile package, and have a second driver who is only getting better and better.

Presented with the good fortune of Verstappen's tyre failure and the resulting restart, you'd normally put your life savings on Hamilton somehow taking the win. For once, it wasn't to be.

McLaren

McLaren had a strangely underwhelming weekend, somewhat against expectation, with the MCL35M arguably the third fastest Mercedes powered car on the streets. Given their developing battle with Ferrari in the Constructor's, the Scuderia appeared to be a small step ahead in Baku in terms of pace.

A silly red flag error from Norris in qualifying cost him three places on the grid, automatically making life more difficult for the race, before a tough start meant both McLarens were outside the points early on.

To recover a fifth and ninth place finish from there was much better, with Ricciardo showing better pace than he had relative to Norris than in recent weekends. A tap from behind at the final restart possibly prevented the Australian from getting another position higher, too.

Given how the race played out with Aston Martin and AlphaTauri there to capitalise, it was a little bit of a missed opportunity for McLaren.

RN365 News dossier F1 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

The latest news about the Azerbaijan Grand Prix straight from the Baku City Circuit.

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