Sergio Perez is the winner of the exciting Grand Prix of Azerbaijan after the late restart of the race after the tyre puncture for Max Verstappen while Lewis Hamilton threw his second place at the restart on braking for the first corner and finished only 15th.
For Perez, this is the second Formula 1 victory after the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix in Racing Point and the 11th podium with which he took third place in the drivers’ standings while Vettel finished second and achieved the first podium for Aston Martin, first after the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix for Ferrari and his 122nd in Formula 1.
Gasly finished third for AlphaTauri after starting from fourth place and defended against Leclerc in a Ferrari who finished fourth and Norris finished fifth for McLaren.
Verstappen led convincingly until lap 48 when his rear left tyre exploded at the start finish line, causing the race to stop in lap 48, and the race resumed after just over half an hour with three laps to go (one warm-up lap and two racing laps).
Perez started from the first place ahead of Hamilton, Vettel, Gasly, Leclerc, Tsunoda, Norris, Sainz, Ricciard and Alonso, and at that time there were 17 out of 20 drivers in the race.
Hamilton had a great start from second place and was level with Perez from the inside before braking for the first turn, but he braked too late and went straight and fell to the back of the standings so neither he nor Verstappen won points in today’s race – the difference is still four points in favor of the leading Verstappen.
Leclerc got off to a good start and kept the lead for Ferrari ahead of Hamilton and Verstappen and the Ocon in Alpine was the first driver to retire as early as the fourth lap due to a power unit issue.
2021 Azerbaijan GP start (Photo: Red Bull)Hamilton overtook Leclerc in the third lap at the start finish line after Leclerc made a mistake in the Turn 15 at the end of the second sector, and Verstappen overtook Leclerc only in the seventh lap with the help of the DRS.
Perez started fantastically from sixth place and fought his way through to fourth place in the first laps, and already in the eighth lap he overtook Leclerc and took third place, keeping up with leaders Hamilton and Verstappen.
Leclerc was the first to enter the pits from the leading drivers already in the lap 10 and replaced the worn soft with a new hard tyres, a lap after Alonso and Norris did the same, and Hamilton entered the pits in the lap 12 and left the lead to Hamilton and Perez after his pitstop took as much as 4.6 seconds.
Red Bull called Verstappen in the lap 13, whose tyres were changed in just 1.9 seconds, and a lap later they invited Perez who returned in front of Hamilton despite a slow tyre change of 4.3 seconds.
Vettel started from 11th place on the soft and took the lead in the race when the leaders made their pitstops which he held until lap 19 when he entered the pits for a new set of hard and returned to seventh place ahead of Tsunoda – at that point only Stroll in Aston Martin was not in the pits because he started on hard tyres.
Stroll held fourth place in the lap 30, but his rear left tyre exploded at the start and finish line, after which he crashed into the wall uncontrollably and caused a safety car to come out.
Alonso entered the pits for soft tyres during the safety car in lap 35, and so did Giovinazzi, Russell and Schumacher. The race continued in lap 36, with Verstappen holding the lead ahead of Perez, Hamilton, Vettel and Gasly.
Hamilton pushed Perez, but without a real chance to attack and it seemed that Red Bull would achieve the first 1-2 victory since the Malaysian Grand Prix in 2016, but before the lap 48 Verstappen’s rear left was punctured after which he crashed into the wall at high speed and had to retire, causing the race to be suspended in the lap 48.
Drivers were allowed to change tyres and damaged parts before the restart, so Hamilton got a new front wing, and drivers were left with only three laps until the end of the race – a warm-up lap and two laps of racing.
Hamilton got off to a great start from the inside, but braked too late and continued straight in the first corner so he fell to the back of the standings while Perez retained first place ahead of Vettel, Gasly, Leclerc and Norris.
Alonso achieved the best result in his F1 comeback with Alpine in sixth place, and Tsunoda was seventh and achieved his best result in Formula 1 for AlphaTauri ahead of Sainz in Ferrari who was in 15th place after a Turn 8 error in the early stage of the race.
Ricciardo scored two points in ninth place for McLaren, who lost third place in the constructors’ championship from Ferrari, and Raikkonen scored his first point of the season for Alfa Romeo ahead of teammate Giovinazzi in 11th place.
Bottas had a disappointing race that he finished only in 12th place after being overtaken by both Alfa Romeo drivers, and Schumacher drove a very good race and finished in 13th place ahead of Mazepin and Hamilton.
For the first time since the 2018 Austrian GP Mercedes failed to score a single point which ended their 55 race point winning streak in Formula 1 while their engines continue to score points for the 240th race in a row (since the 2008 Chinese GP).
Latifi and Russell were the last among the drivers to reach the finish line ahead of Verstappen, Stroll and Ocon.
The next race is scheduled in two weeks in France.
AZERBAIJAN GP RESULTS
|1||11||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull/Honda||51|
|2||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin/Mercedes||51||1.385|
|8||55||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Ferrari||51||7.709|
|10||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||51||9.576|
|17||63||George Russell||Williams/Mercedes||48||3 laps|
|18||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Honda||45||Tyre|
|18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin/Mercedes||29||Tyre|
|31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine/Renault||3||Power uni|
Fastest lap: Max Verstappen 1:44.481 (lap 44)
DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP AFTER 6/23 RACES
|7||Carlos Sainz Jr.||42||4||10||–||6||18||4|