The only thing in doubt after 10 laps, really, was which Red Bull would win Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix. But even that, by the end, was no contest.
Sergio Pérez outclassed both the field and his teammate Max Verstappen to win on Sunday in Baku. The finish was Pérez’s second victory of the season — Vertstappen has won the other two events — and marked the third time in four races that Red Bull’s cars had crossed the line first and second.
The results also left little doubt about Red Bull’s advantage over every other team in Formula 1 this season, when they have been fastest in practice, in qualifying and on Sundays.
“We pushed to the maximum today,” Pérez said. “We both hit the wall a few times. We were pushing out there. The way Max pushed me was really hard, but we managed to keep him under control.”
Charles Leclerc of Ferrari grabbed a consolation prize by holding off Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin for third, Leclerc’s first podium finish of the year. But both were well beaten by Red Bull. Again.
Sunday’s Race in Photos
When the Race Turned
Almost immediately. Ferrari’s Leclerc started on pole position but even he admitted he might not hold the lead for long. He was correct.
Verstappen passed him on Lap 4. Pérez overtook Leclerc three laps later. At that point, the only question seemed to be which Red Bull would win. An early appearance by the safety car — after Verstappen had pitted — allowed Pérez to flip their order and take the lead, and the race was never close after that.
For the second consecutive race, Formula 1 narrowly avoided tragedy when people came onto the track before the race had ended.
In Australia it had been fans who had encroached, slipping through gaps in the fencing to gain access to the track even as the cars were still racing at full speed. On Sunday, the scare came in pit lane, where photographers, crew members and safety officials had come out of the garage area to watch Pérez and Verstappen cross the finish line.
The problem was that Alpine’s Esteban Ocon was trying to pit on the final lap, and as his car turned the corner it sent everyone scrambling for safety.
What They’re Saying
Charles Leclerc, on chasing Red Bull: “Honestly the feeling is a little better, but when I see the gap, we still have a lot of work.”
Verstappen, consistently the world’s most unhappy runner-up: “You keep learning. It can never be perfect all the time.”
Pérez, on narrowing the points race: “We managed to keep the pressure on Max.”
Season in Review
March 5: Bahrain Grand Prix. Winner: Max Verstappen
March 19: Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Winner: Sergio Pérez
April 2: Australian Grand Prix. Winner: Max Verstappen
April 30: Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Winner: Sergio Pérez