Azerbaijan Grand Prix: Max Verstappen wins in Baku, Charles Leclerc retires
Max Verstappen won the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, and after Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari’s engine broke, he took the lead in the World Championship.
Leclerc’s second engine-related retirement from the lead in three races puts him 34 points behind Verstappen, even though he has won pole position in six of the eight races.
The fact that Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz also didn’t finish because of a hydraulic problem adds to the idea that Ferrari’s season is falling apart after a good start.
Verstappen and teammate Sergio Perez finished first and second for Red Bull. Mercedes’ George Russell came in third, and Lewis Hamilton fought back to finish fourth.
After a good start, Perez dived to the inside of Turn One to take the lead away from Leclerc. This was right after Leclerc had won the pole position with a great lap.
Then Verstappen put pressure on the Ferrari, but the Italian driver was able to hold off the Dutchman until the ninth lap, when Sainz parked in a run-off area, causing a virtual safety car period.
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Ferrari took the chance to get new tyres, but Red Bull didn’t. They did this in the hopes that Leclerc would take the lead, which he did after a few laps.
After Leclerc stopped, he briefly fell to third, but Verstappen quickly caught up to Perez and took the lead on lap 15, after telling Perez “no fighting.” The next time around, Perez stopped, and two laps after that, Verstappen did the same.
After the Red Bull drivers stopped, it looked like the race would come down to whether Leclerc, who was in the lead, could hold off the Red Bulls, who would have a much better grip.
This question would have been even more interesting if there had been a second virtual safety car when Kevin Magnussen’s Ferrari engine broke in his Haas.
But by the time the Dane got out, Leclerc was already out of the race. At the end of lap 21, a cloud of smoke came up behind his car.