Perez wins eventful Baku GP

BOITUMELO RANTAO 

SERGIO Perez won his second career Formula One win, and first at new team Red Bull, at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in the Baku City Circuit. 

Perez had an amazing start to the race, continuing his good fortune in Baku, taking 2 positions on the first lap. Perez has now registered three podiums through the windy Azerbaijan streets.

“We love Baku!” the Red Bull driver exclaimed, ”We have to enjoy today, our pace was great and we have a very good race car. The relationship with the team is great and there’s still a long way to go in this championship.”

Perez’s teammate Max Verstappen was running comfortably in first place after making up ground starting from third. Verstappen executed a series of fantastic moves to overtake pole-sitter Charles Leclerc and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton. Perez soon joined his teammate after a well worked overtakes on Leclerc and Hamilton. 

As the race settled Verstappen looked to be running away with the first place trophy when tragedy unexpectedly punctured his rear left tyre on the start-finish straight on lap 46. The incident brought a red flag restart and dented Verstappen’s attempt to extend his World Champions lead. Hamilton pounced ahead of Perez on the restart and over shot his Mercedes into turn 1 – ending his consecutive streak of points finishes at 54. 

Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel had a fantastic drive on his way to second place on the podium – a first podium for new constructors Aston Martin in F1. Vettel started in P11 quickly making his way up the field – and as other cars entered the pit lane – led the race for the first time in two years (Brazil, 2019).

Vettel spoke highly of the team’s strategy decision “It gave us the platform for the second half of the race and put us in a position to take advantage” the Aston Martin driver continued,”I felt good in the car, and combined with on-track events and strategy, we were able to get a really special result.”

Pierre Gasly had a sublime drive to complete the podium in third place – a first podium of the 2021 season for AlphaTauri. Leclerc would conclude a disappointing day in fourth after a few heartstopping attempts at earning a podium after the restart. Mclaren ‘s Lando Norris crossed the chequered flag in fifth, a welcome improvement, after starting in P9.

Alpine Racing Fernando Alonso followed Norris in sixth, an intelligent string of strategic decisions by the Alpine team helped maintain Alonso’s points position. AlphaTauri rookie Yuki Tsunoda finished in 7th for his best ever finish in F1.

Carlos Sainz concluded a tumultuous day in 8th place, earning vital points for Ferrari in their hunt for championship ascendance. They moved up into third place in the Constructors table after Baku. Sainz slid out into the run-off of turn 15 on his out lap – reversing back onto the grid safely – altering the course of his race for the worst. 

Daniel Ricciardo returned to Baku with ninth place after failing to finish the race in 2019. 

Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikonnen ended in tenth for his first points finish in 2021.


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