Sergio Perez takes his second win of the season on the streets of Baku, following on from his Sprint victory yesterday.
It was a rather uneventful start as most drivers managed to get off to good starts. Whilst achieving pole position in Friday’s qualifying session, Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari just did not have the race pace of the Red Bulls. Knowing this he did not defend when Max Verstappen made a move for the lead on lap 3.
Sergio Perez made his way past Leclerc not long after on lap 5 to make it a Red Bull 1-2. Perez would begin to gain on Verstappen in the following laps.
Valtteri Bottas would be the first to pit on lap 7, and much of the field would follow within the next few laps.
This includes Max Verstappen, who came into the pits on lap 11. However, right before he pit, Nyck de Vries clipped the inside of turn 6, breaking his Alpha Tauri’s suspension. As a result the safety car came out, which allowed Perez to jump his teammate.
Leclerc had also overtaken Verstappen, though the dutchman was able to re-overtake the Ferrari once green flag running resumed on lap 14.
Slightly further back Alonso successfully made an ambitious move on Carlos Sainz for 4th place.
Lap 15 saw Hamilton make a clean move down the inside of George Russell going into turn 1. He would then charge on to overtake Stroll for 6th place just a few laps later.
The DRS zone on the start/finish straight had been shortened going into this year’s race, which had made overtaking more difficult for some drivers. Ocon and Hulkenberg, who had started on hard tyres, were at the front of a DRS train for much of the middle portion of the race.
Norris was finally able to overtake Hulkenberg on lap 45 to enter the points.
After de Vries’ crash, there was only one more retirement in the race, with Zhou Guanyu suffering overheating issues.
The durability of the hards meant that Hulkenberg and Ocon were able to practically run the entire race on the same set of tyres. They both chose to do long overcuts on these tyres because as the laps went by, the smaller their chances got of scoring points without any intervention from the safety car or red flags.
Neither of these came out, so Hulkenberg pit on lap 50 of 51, and Ocon on the final lap. Ocon’s pitstop was the cause of much confusion and controversy, as members of the Red Bull pit crew had climbed the fence on the other side of the pitlane to celebrate Perez’s victory, and many photographers had started crossing the pits to take pictures of the race finish. This was despite the fact Ocon was yet to come through the pitlane.
Perez was able to lead a Red Bull 1-2 for the second time this season, having never come under any significant threat from Verstappen after the safety car came in.
Alonso made a late charge for the podium, having gained a couple of seconds on Leclerc in the last two laps. However it was too little too late, as Leclerc picks up his first podium of the season.
This result means Perez is now just six points behind Max Verstappen in the driver’s championship. F1 races in Miami next week.