Five winners and five losers from F1’s Azerbaijan GP
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After what was turning into something of a snooze-fest, Baku delivered another typically crazy race with a bonkers second half in the Azerbaijan GP.A pair of tyre blow-outs for Lance Stroll and race-leader Max Verstappen turned the race on its head and led to a two-lap sprint to the finish following a red flag where further drama followed.Neither of the top two drivers in the championship scored, as Sergio Perez notched up his maiden victory for Red Bull.Here are our winners and losers from the 2021 Azerbaijan GP…WinnersSergio PerezSergio Perez said it would take him around five races to get fully accustomed to Red Bull’s 2021 F1 car and in just his sixth race, he delivered his first win for the team.The Mexican had already enjoyed his best weekend yet for Red Bull until he was left to rue traffic and an unseen error in Q3 that left him only sixth on the grid.2823112.0064.jpg accImages.createImage();But Perez was able to battle his way up the order and leapfrogged Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in the pits to find himself running behind teammate Max Verstappen in a comfortable second place.Perez brilliantly kept Hamilton at bay throughout and inherited the lead when Verstappen suffered a tyre failure with four laps to go, causing the race to be red flagged.Related ArticlesaccImages.createImage(); Leclerc lost Azerbaijan GP F1 race lead to Hamilton after avoiding tree branchaccImages.createImage(); Leclerc lost Azerbaijan GP F1 race lead to Hamilton after avoiding tree branchPerez kept his cool at the standing restart as Hamilton made a key error, before going on to seal his second F1 victory – and a crucial result for Red Bull in the championship with Mercedes failing to score.Sebastian VettelHow quickly things can turn around in F1.Just two races ago, Sebastian Vettel was in the middle of a difficult run for Aston Martin and had not yet scored a single point for his new team.2823352.0064.jpg accImages.createImage();But the four-time world champion followed up on a breakthrough result in Monaco with another exceptional display in Baku to claim his first F1 podium with Aston Martin.Vettel made the most of a lengthy opening stint to move up from his P11 starting slot, and benefitted from having a new set of fresh softs at the restart on his charge to second place behind Perez.Related ArticlesaccImages.createImage(); Pirelli reveals early findings from Baku F1 tyre blowoutsaccImages.createImage(); Gasly was worried engine issue would cost him Baku F1 podiumSome brilliant tyre management from Vettel and an opportunistic Safety Car restart ultimately paved the way for the German’s best result for two years, along with a slice of luck.It was a performance truly worthy winning F1’s ‘Driver of the Day’ award.Pierre GaslyA third career podium for Pierre Gasly was a fine reward for a superb performance all weekend long in Baku.The Frenchman matched his best-ever qualifying result with fourth place on Saturday and converted that into an excellent third in the race.”42823351.0064.jpg accImages.createImage();Gasly profited from Hamilton’s error at the restart to move into third after he had lost out to Vettel when he was battling an engine that down on power at the time.Gasly’s result capped off a strong race for AlphaTauri, with teammate Yuki Tsunoda returning to the points in seventh to complete a double points haul for the Italian squad.Fernando AlonsoFor the first time since making his F1 comeback, Fernando Alonso appeared to boast a speed advantage over teammate Esteban Ocon as he outperformed the Frenchman in qualifying to seal a Q3 spot.The two-time world champion was having an impressive race and looked to be on course to finish in the lower-end of the points, before the red flag provided an opportunity that Alonso took full advantage of.”52823034.0064.jpg accImages.createImage();A brilliant start saw Alonso make up a total of four positions during a two-lap dash to the finish as he picked up his best result yet for Alpine in a strong sixth.Kimi RaikkonenAnother driver who used all of his experience to make the most of a mad race in Baku was Kimi Raikkonen.The Alfa Romeo driver stayed out of trouble and drove a smart race as he slowly made his way up the order and ultimately capitalised on the chaos ahead of him to score his first point of the season in 10th.Raikkonen snuck ahead of teammate Antonio Giovinazzi in the two-lap sprint to the finish to round out the points-paying positions. The Finn had earlier pulled off a canny overtake on fellow countryman Valtteri Bottas.2823265.0064.jpg accImages.createImage();LosersMax VerstappenMax Verstappen will leave Baku a hugely frustrated figure after seeing a certain victory go begging through no fault of his own.”6Like teammate Perez, Verstappen had got ahead of Hamilton during the pit stop window and looked to be in complete control, having pulled six seconds clear of Perez before the Safety Car.Despite seeing his lead vanish, Verstappen was able to build it back up again following the restart and was on course for a dominant third victory of the season until disaster struck four laps from home.”7The only saving grace for Verstappen is that his championship lead remains intact thanks to Hamilton’s rare error.2822846.0064.jpg accImages.createImage();Lewis HamiltonWhat a rollercoaster of a weekend for Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes.From a disastrous Friday, Hamilton miraculously recovered to out qualify main title rival Verstappen and even looked like having a genuine shot of winning on Sunday, only to come away from with zero points to his name.A slip of the finger ultimately proved hugely costly for Hamilton, who revealed after the race that he accidentally engaged a button on his steering wheel at the restart that led to him going straight on at Turn 1.”82822863.0064.jpg accImages.createImage();The seven-time world champion will be left ruining a golden opportunity to wrestle back the championship lead from Verstappen after the Red Bull driver’s tyre drama.Valtteri BottasA weekend Valtteri Bottas will want to forget in a hurry.Bottas looked off the pace all weekend compared to his teammate and was only able to take 10th in qualifying. In the race, the Finn failed to make any progress and actually ended up going backwards.He was passed by both Alfa Romeo drivers in what turned out to be a dreadful performance on a nightmare day for Mercedes.With Perez making impressive gains, Mercedes really needs Bottas to step up fast if it is going to successfully maintain its extraordinary run of successive championship triumphs come the end of the year.”92822850.0064.jpg accImages.createImage();PirelliPirelli is set to launch a full investigation to determine what caused the concerning tyre blowouts that ended Stroll and Verstappen’s race.While it is too early to provide a clear picture of exactly what happened, there is no question the accidents were absolutely unacceptable and should not be happening. Pirelli has revealed details of its early findings here.Pirelli will find itself coming under even more pressure and scrutiny from the teams and drivers to produce a better product going forward.”10WilliamsWilliams will be frustrated to come away from Baku having missed what could end up being one its best chances to get some points on the board this season.Russell had been its highest-placed driver until he retired before the final restart due to a loss of power, while a team communication error ruined Nicholas Latifi’s race.The Canadian was handed a 10-second stop-go penalty and three penalty points on his licence for a red flag infringement after failing to pass through the pit lane, having being told to stay out by his team.While Williams were left wondering what could have been, rivals Alfa Romeo profited to nab another point and pull two points clear in the constructors’ standings, while P13 for Mick Schumacher lifted Haas above Williams.
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