The start of the race was Sergio Pérez, a piece of brains this one in the hands of Charles Leclerc, but who won the Azerbaijan GP was Max Verstappen.
On a hot afternoon in Baku local time, this Sunday (12), Formula 1 took to the track to hold the 2022 Azerbaijan GP. The eighth race of the 2022 season promised a game of strategy and overtaking after the first few laps, but ended up being one of the saddest tango for Ferrari. Well, again, for Red Bull, who saw their rival not even approach half the race distance and won without any threat. Better for Max Verstappen, who wins again after the Monaco setback.
It was more than just a victory: a reckoning. Verstappen had the 2021 race in his hands in Baku when, in dramatic fashion, he saw his tire burst with a few laps to go and retired. The scene of Verstappen kicking the flat tire, still on the track and all dressed up, helmet and all, is emblematic. The reigning champion warned him that he had unfinished business with the city. Now he has no more.
Sergio Pérez finished second, but it was he who began to change the course of the race when he got off to a perfect start and took the lead at the first turn. It was the best of all worlds: Pérez in front of a Charles Leclerc who, slightly slower, was holding Verstappen. There, Ferrari began the day of collective disgrace. After eight laps, Carlos Sainz had electronic problems and stopped the car on the track. End of the race for him.
But there was Leclerc. The other side of the garage acted quickly under virtual safety car conditions and called on the Monegasque to change tires and put on a set of hards, something Red Bull did not do, leaving the two to remain on worn medium tyres. Leclerc returned to the track taking advantage and the tactical control of the race. It was then Red Bull that acted: it ordered Pérez to give way to Verstappen since the Dutchman was much faster and was stuck behind the Mexican. It may seem like a low-key team game, but it was absolutely necessary to lessen the damage caused by Leclerc’s free pit stop.
After Verstappen and Pérez pitted, Leclerc regained the lead and now had the race in his hands. Until there is no more. On the 21st of 51 laps, the Ferrari engine exploded. Again. Leclerc was out of the race and Red Bull had one more race on their hands not to waste.
Not wasted. Already with the lead, Verstappen disappeared from the map in such a way that Red Bull had to have the pace reduced on two occasions so as not to run the risk of repeating last year. The victory of the championship leader, the fifth of 2022. Pérez and George Russell closed the podium.
Lewis Hamilton, Pierre Gasly, Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Daniel Ricciardo, Lando Norris and Esteban Ocon finished the top-10. Pérez set the best lap of the race.
Formula 1 returns next week, between the 17th and 19th of June, in Montreal, with the Canadian GP.
Source: With Agencies