Unstoppable Max Verstappen wins the F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Verstappen wins fifth race of season as Red Bull register 1-2 finish at Azerbaijan

Max Verstappen celebrates on the podium yesterday. Pics/AP, PTI, Getty Images

World champion Max Verstappen led a Red Bull 1-2 in Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix in a potentially key moment of the title race after pole-sitter Charles Leclerc and Ferrari endured another dose of misery with a double retirement.

Sergio Perez had jumped Leclerc to the first turn before Verstappen took control as the Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and then Leclerc retired with engine problems. George Russell took third ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton who needed a helping elbow to climb out of his cockpit such was the state of his back after an afternoon being jolted around his bouncing car.

Second-placed Sergio Perez acknowledges the crowd
Second-placed Sergio Perez acknowledges the crowd

Verstappen’s fifth win of the season, and the 25th of his career, tightened his grip on the drivers’ standings with Perez moving into second, 21 points behind, while the luckless Leclerc slipped to 34 points adrift. “Was that a good drive or was that a good drive?” a pleased Verstappen asked over the team radio, after ending his jinx in Baku, where he had never made the podium. 

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It was a memorable day for Red Bull who are 80 points clear of Ferrari in the constructors’ championship ahead of round nine in Montreal next week. As for Ferrari, their habit of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory through questionable strategy or unreliability is beginning to look potentially fatal for their title ambitions. 

Leclerc, for the fourth time, was unable to convert pole into a win, and he had his head in his hands in frustration. “Better days will come” if the team just sticks together, Sainz suggested. That’s what Mercedes have been saying to themselves, and the world, all season as they struggle to unlock their cars’ potential.

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