Sergio Perez claimed the first Sprint race victory of the season at the Baku City Circuit on Saturday afternoon, beating Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen to the chequered flag for the maximum eight points on offer.
With F1’s Sprint format being revised for 2023, a new ‘Shootout’ qualifying session set the grid for the 17-lap dash, which took place in pleasant weather conditions and featured action from start to finish.
One driver who did not take part was F1 rookie Logan Sargeant, who crashed out of the Shootout and was withdrawn from the 100-kilometre Sprint due to the significant damage his Williams car sustained in the incident.
Meanwhile, the grid was another car lighter after Alpine made suspension changes on Esteban Ocon’s car under parc ferme conditions, with the team enduring a particularly challenging weekend on the shores of the Caspian Sea.
FORMULA 1 AZERBAIJAN GRAND PRIX 2023
|1 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing||33:17.667||8|
|2 Charles LECLERC Ferrari||+4.463s||7|
|3 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing||+5.065s||6|
|4 George RUSSELL Mercedes||+8.532s||5|
|5 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari||+10.388s||4|
Behind, an incredible scrap ensued between Verstappen and the fast-starting George Russell, with the pair going side-by-side through the opening sequence of corners before the Mercedes nosed ahead of the Red Bull at Turn 3.
Verstappen was not a happy man after conceding the position, taking to the radio and accusing Russell of barging his way through – replays confirming contact and a thump of the wall for the reigning two-time world champion.
Just as Verstappen lit up the airwaves and requested an FIA investigation, AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda understeered into the wall at the exit of Turn 13 following contact with team mate Nyck de Vries, littering debris – and his rear-right tyre – over the circuit.
With the Virtual Safety Car deployed, Leclerc held P1 from Perez, Russell, Verstappen and team mate Carlos Sainz, with Fernando Alonso clearing Williams’ Alex Albon to put his Aston Martin on the tail of Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes.
Despite losing a wheel, Tsunoda limped his way back to the pits and mechanics attempted to make repairs. However, it became clear as soon as he rejoined the track that the damage was terminal, forcing the full Safety Car to make an appearance, under which Ocon opted for a cheap stop and switched to softs.
Categories: Formula 1, Race Recap
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