Red Bull win once more as Perez overtakes Leclerc to claim Baku sprint race victory
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez won the first sprint race of the season in Baku at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Saturday afternoon.
The race was the first under the new FIA regulations which sees both the shortened race and the full-length event have their own respective qualifying sessions.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was on pole for Saturday’s race, just as he will be on Sunday, with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez in second spot, one place ahead of his team-mate, current world champion Max Verstappen.
Azerbaijani Grand Prix
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George Russell started in fourth, with fellow Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton in sixth, bookending Carlos Sainz in fifth.
Perez seized on an opportunity for an overtake after an early safety car runout, with Leclerc holding on for second spot.
Verstappen retained third place, but there will be concern for Sunday given he suffered an early collision with Russell – who finished fourth – with no news yet about any implications for the rest of the weekend.
Verstappen said in his television interview: “I don’t understand why you need to take so much risk in lap one, understeer into my sidepod and create a big hole.”
Sainz was fifth at the race’s conclusion, with Aston Martin’s veteran Fernando Alonso in sixth. The Spaniard beat his erstwhile world championship rival with an overtake when Hamilton failed to make his own move ahead of him on Sainz for the safety car restart. Alonso’s team-mate Lance Stroll took the final point available in eighth.
Monegasque driver Leclerc had admitted he was concerned that his Ferrari does not have the pace over longer distances to hold off the Red Bulls in Baku, and he has now been proven right for the first race of the weekend.
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