Perez wins Azerbaijan Grand Prix
Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez took his first victory as a Red Bull Racing Honda driver, surviving a late-race battle with Lewis Hamilton that saw the Mercedes driver lock up and finish in P15 after a red flag restart brought about by a disastrous puncture that robbed Max Verstappen of an almost certain victory just five laps from the chequered flag.
When the race resumed, it was Hamilton who made the best start. He pulled alongside Perez on the inside line as they powered towards turn one, but as they hit the brakes Hamilton locked up and Checo swept through to claim the lead. Two laps later Sergio secured his first win for Red Bull Racing Honda.
With Hamilton finishing outside of the points, it means that Verstappen retains the championship lead by four points and Red Bull Racing Honda extend their lead at the top of the Constructors’ Championship with 174 points, 26 points ahead of their nearest rival.
Discussing his maiden Red Bull Racing Honda win, Sergio Perez said: “We love Baku! It feels amazing to get my first win with Red Bull. The Team did a tremendous job and I want to thank Mr Mateschitz for this great opportunity and giving me the seat. I feel very sorry for Max because he deserved the win and a 1-2 for the Team would’ve been very enjoyable.
“It was a crazy rollercoaster of a race, we were basically flat out from the very first lap and I had Lewis behind pushing me so I couldn’t breathe, it was very challenging but we kept our focus. Everything worked perfectly today apart from the restart at the end where I just had no grip. I thought I cannot lose this race two laps from the flag so I broke as late as I could into Turn 1 and then I saw Lewis locking up and go straight on into the run off. It just shows how on the limit we are, the speeds we are doing are tremendous and I am sorry for Lewis because it’s very painful when these things happen but we are all vulnerable to mistakes.
“We have to enjoy today, our pace was great and we have a very good race car. We are working flat out and giving our best every week, it’s only race six and there’s more to come from me, the relationship with Max and the Team is great and there’s still a long way to go in this championship.”
Ahead of the Baku street circuit, Mobil 1 developed a breakthrough engine oil in collaboration with Honda Research and Development and Red Bull Racing Honda. The new Mobil 1 RB16B Engine Oil is designed specifically for the new Honda power unit, helping deliver maximum power without compromising protection and fuel efficiency for the rest of the season.
The new upgrade contributed to the performance of the team with drivers Verstappen and Perez leading for much of the race and to learn more about the new upgrade, click here to head to Mobil 1’s Virtual Grandstand.
Commenting on the race and the new Mobil 1 RB16B Engine Oil upgrade , Team Principal Christian Horner said: “What a rollercoaster! I think we have been through every single emotion today. To be within five laps of achieving our first 1-2 since 2016 to then lose Max from the lead of the race with a puncture that is so far unexplained was pretty heart breaking.
“Thankfully Sergio got the job done and Lewis’ mistake into Turn 1 at the restart means we come out of the weekend having extended our lead in the Constructors’ Championship with Max maintaining his lead in the Drivers’ and Checo now moving into third place. Although it was frustrating for Max, we are delighted for Checo to take his first win for the Team today. He has been extremely fast all weekend and it was a great boost for the Team to see him on the top step of the podium.
“Congratulations and a big thank you must also go to all our partners, especially Mobil 1 who provided us with an upgraded engine oil for this weekend which just shows how hard all areas of our Team are pushing in this championship fight.”
The Team looked certain to claim its first 1-2 finish since 2016 but then on lap 46 that outcome disappeared in a shower of carbon fibre.
As he crossed the line, Max’s RB16B slewed sideways and he was pitched into the wall on the straight, an issue which looks like a left rear tyre failure.
Discussing his unfortunate race, Max Verstappen, said: “To retire from the lead of the race so close to the finish is pretty frustrating. I didn’t feel anything strange with the car and then suddenly the left rear went and I was in the wall quite hard. It’s not a nice place to crash and we don’t know the exact cause yet, I’m sure it will be fully investigated.
“Up until that point it was a great day, the car felt perfect and I was comfortable in the lead so it felt like it would be an easy 1-2 but there are no guarantees in this sport. Of course I am frustrated from my side not to win but I was very happy to see Checo up there. He did everything that the Team could have wanted today. He had a great start and then we both got past Lewis in the pits.
“I heard he had to defend for most of the race, so if I couldn’t win, I’m glad he could. He’s a great guy and a great teammate so it was good to see him smiling on the podium and having his first win for Red Bull. It’s a shame that we missed out on the opportunity to make the gap bigger to Lewis today in the championship as we know when we get back to the normal tracks Mercedes will be very strong again but it just goes to show anything can happen and it’s still a good result for the Team!”
It won’t be long until the team will be fighting on track again as the paddock now heads to Circuit Paul Ricard for the French Grand Prix in one of Formula 1’s most competitive season in years.