Baku-Max Verstapen led his fortunes to an uncontested first Baku victory on Sunday after Ferrari’s challenge at the Azerbaijan Formula One Grand Prix was knocked out, opening a commanding championship lead.
Dutchman Sergio Perez completed a one-two for the Red Bull, 20.8 seconds simple, who was instructed not to fight Verstapen.
George Russell held the record for finishing each race this season and finished third in the top five for Mercedes.
After 20 of the 51 laps in the race, Ferrari’s tragic afternoon ended
Charles Leclerc, who is leading the team’s challenge and starting from the pole, blew his Ferrari smoke into the hole to take a second retirement from three races.
His teammate Carlos Senz pulled to the side of the track 10 laps ago with hydraulic failure.
“Today our car had incredible speed, we could take care of the tires and chip it,” said Verstappen, who is well-known for his heartbreaking retirement from the lead, which crashed during his first run in Baku last year.
“Somewhat lucky to retire but the car was fast today.”
This is Verstapen’s fifth win in eight races this year and the sixth different Baku winner in six races.
He extended his overall championship lead to 21 points over Perez, who won in Monaco two weeks ago, to rise to second place.
Leclerc, who have won two races this year but have not won a third of the season in Australia, slipped to third place, 34 points behind their Dutch rivals.
“It hurts, we need to look at it so it doesn’t happen again,” said Leclerc, who left Australia with a 46-point lead over Verstappen.
Unable to convert to a top win in the last three races, Leclerc went to Sunday’s race determined to do well in his fourth consecutive pole.
But he lost the lead to second-ranked starter Perez in the first corner and was on the backfoot from off.
He didn’t seem to have the speed to match Perez and instead was busy blocking Verstappen.
But an opportunistic pitstop under a virtual safety car period, due to the failure of the sign, allows him to jump early until the death of his car finally destroys his hopes.
Meanwhile, Verstappen has overtaken Perez, who was bidding for the first repeat winner of the Baku race. Red Bull instructed the Mexicans not to resist, and the Dutchman inherited the lead when Leclerc retired.
“At this point, anything can happen. We got a one-two, so it’s a great team result,” said Perez, who took points for the fastest lap.
Hamilton in pain
Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth, but his Mercedes was suffering from back pain after bouncing or jumping.
Kevin Magnussen triggered another safety car as his hassle stopped at the ground. China’s Guanyu Zhou has retired his Alfa Romeo due to technical problems. Both teams use Ferrari power units.
Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris were engaged in an inter-team McLaren battle, with the Australians under pressure crossing the eighth line over Britain.
Canadian Nicholas Latifi picked up two penalties, one for violating the start grid and ignoring the blue flag, and finishing the last.
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