Red Bull has made it five consecutive race wins in a row after Max Verstappen took home the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
It was a perfect weekend for the team with Verstappen’s teammate, Sergio Perez coming in second as well as securing the fastest lap, resulting in the team earning maximum points and extending their lead over Ferrari.
Red Bull did have some fortune go their way, with both Ferrari’s being forced to retire from the Grand Prix due to mechanical and engine issues.
The race began with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in pole position, however he was only able to hold the position for mere seconds, locking up going into the first turn, allowing Perez to sneak past him and into first place.
From their Red Bull held strong with Verstappen soon moving into second place after Leclerc pitted on lap 10. Five laps later, the reigning World Champion showed his class able to get past his teammate to lead the race.
Verstappen remained in first place for all but one lap of the rest of the race, with Leclerc getting into first on lap 19 following the Dutchmen’s pit stop. However just one lap later Leclerc’s engine failed, allowing Verstappen to regain the lead where he remained to win the Grand Prix.
The rest of the podium was made up of Perez in second and Mercedes, George Russell in third.
With the win, Verstappen now sits comfortably atop the Driver Championship Standings with 150 points, ahead of Perez who moved into second place after Azerbaijan on 129 points.
The team also leads the Constructors Championship by a large margin over Ferrari, on 279 points compared to 199.
Ricciardo returns to the points
Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris entered the Grand Prix with some work to do, with both having subpar performances in qualifying, starting in 11th and 12th place.
There was some hope that Ricciardo could turn his season around at the Baku Street Circuit, a track he had previously won at back in 2017.
McLaren opted to employ a different strategy than many of the other teams, needing something different if they were any chance of climbing up the grid and earning points. The team opted not to pit either of their drivers on lap nine when the virtual safety car was deployed following Carlos Sainz’s retirement from the race, allowing Norris to climb up to sixth and Ricciardo to seventh.
The team waited until lap 21 to pit Norris, who came out in 16th place, while Ricciardo stayed out until lap 34. When Ricciardo finally did pit he came out in ninth place, able to gain one more place to finish in eighth.
Norris finished in ninth after working his way back up the grid following his pit stop earning two points.
As a team McLaren remains in fourth place in the Constructors Standings with 65 points, only behind the big three teams Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes.
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Double retirement for Ferrari
Ferrari entered the Azerbaijan Grand Prix race weekend looking to bounce back after a disappointing result in Monaco the fortnight prior. After such a strong start to the season, Ferrari was desperate to put a stop to Red Bulls dominance of late and look to have one of their drivers on atop the podium at the end of the 51-lap race.
Ferrari put themselves in a prime position to do so, with Charles Leclerc being the fastest in qualifying to start the race in first place. Leclerc has been sensational in qualifying this season having qualified first in four consecutive races and never qualifying below second.
Unfortunately for Ferrari, their hope was short lived once the race began with Leclerc locking up and losing pole position to Perez on the opening turn.
Things only got worse for the team on lap nine when Carlos Sainz went into the runoff area on turn four with a mechanical failure putting an end to his race.
Just 11 laps later, Ferrari’s weekend went from disappointing to a nightmare when on lap 20 smoke began billowing out the back of Leclerc’s car with him having an engine failure also forcing him to retire from the Grand Prix.
The loss was made more difficult for Ferrari with their rival, Red Bull securing maximum points and in the process extending their lead at the top of both the Driver’s and Constructor’s standings.
The engine issue that Ferrari had was not just limited to their team but other teams such as Haas which use Ferrari powered engines, with Kevin Magnussen’s suffering the same fate on lap 33.
Other notable performances
Mercedes George Russell continued his fine form to earn his third podium of the season with a third-place result. The British driver also maintained his streak of being the only racer on the grid to finish in the top five in all eight Grand Prix this season.
His teammate, Lewis Hamilton scored a fourth-place result, having to fight his way up the grid from 11th following his pit stop on lap nine. The result was a positive sign for Hamilton who has not looked like himself this season, only scoring one podium result thus far.
Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly returned to the driver we saw last season, able to challenge the drivers at the top of the grid to earn a fifth-place result and score 10 points. It was a strong weekend for the Frenchmen who qualified in sixth place.
Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel had his best result of the season in Azerbaijan to finish the race in sixth place and earn some much needed points for his team.
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