Perez holds off Verstappen to claim second Azerbaijan Grand Prix victory · RaceFans

Sergio Perez won the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku ahead of team mate Max Verstappen after taking advantage of a well timed Safety Car to make his sole pit stop.

Verstappen had led the race but pitted just before the Safety Car was deployed, allowing Perez to pit and resume in the lead, which he never lost. Verstappen finished second after passing Charles Leclerc, who finished third.

The top 17 drivers lined up on the grid on medium compound tyres for the start of the race, with Leclerc lining up on pole position ahead of the two Red Bulls of Verstappen and Perez. When the lights went out, Leclerc again held onto the lead on the run to the first corner, heading Verstappen, Perez and Carlos Sainz Jnr in fourth.

Verstappen was all over the back of the Ferrari from the opening lap of the race. When DRS was enabled at the start of lap three, Verstappen easily tucked into Leclerc’s slipstream along the pit straight and breezed through into the lead to begin lap four. Two laps later it was Perez’s turn to slide past the Ferrari into turn one, putting Red Bull into first and second position.

After passing Leclerc, Perez kept in touch with his leading team mate. Then when Nyck de Vries hit the barrier at turn five, coming to a stop, Verstappen pitted from the lead to change onto hard tyres. Moments later, the Safety Car was deployed. This allowed Perez and Leclerc to cruise back to the pit lane under the Safety Car delta and switch to the hard tyres, with Perez and Leclerc both emerging ahead of Verstappen who was demoted to third.

The race resumed on lap 14 with Perez leading away from Leclerc and Verstappen, however Verstappen immediately passed Leclerc to take second place on the run to turn three. Both Red Bulls began to steadily pull away from Leclerc and the rest of the field behind, with Verstappen sitting just over a second from his race-leading team mate.

The two Red Bulls cruised out front with no pressure from anyone behind. Perez and Verstappen both lightly clipped the wall at turn 15 while they engaged in a private duel – Perez on the entry to the corner and Verstappen on the exit.

With ten laps remaining, Perez had edged out a lead of around three seconds to his team mate. Rather than close the gap and challenge for the lead, Verstappen could only maintain the gap at around three seconds as the laps began to tick down.

Eventually, Perez crossed the line at the end of lap 51 to take the chequered flag and secure his second victory of the season. Verstappen was just a few seconds behind him in second, with Leclerc coming to take the final podium position in third around 20 seconds adrift of the winner.

Fernando Alonso took fourth for Aston Martin, ahead of Sainz in the second Ferrari. Lewis Hamilton finished sixth for Mercedes, ahead of Lance Stroll and George Russell taking eighth after claiming the point for fastest lap with a late pit stop. Lando Norris finished ninth for McLaren, with Yuki Tsunoda taking the final point in tenth.

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2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix reaction

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