Max Verstappen denied Azerbaijan Grand Prix victory after Red Bull pit error in Sergio Perez win
Max Verstappen‘s disappointing Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend was compounded with a Red Bull error helping Sergio Perez to victory in Baku.
After his anger at George Russell in the Saturday F1 sprint race, the championship leader was the big favourite for a third win of the season on Sunday before his pit wall were too trigger-happy to call him in for a tyre change, moments before a safety car.
Perez gleefully took advantage of better conditions for a stop only moments later before comfortably holding off his teammate to take the chequered flag, cutting his title lead to six points.
Charles Leclerc had qualified on pole position but lasted only three laps before DRS boosted Verstappen through at the first opportunity, with Perez taking his chance only two laps later.
A Red Bull 1-2 seemed inevitable as Perez clung to around 1.3 seconds off his teammate, Leclerc dropping off significantly on what would prove a lonely race to third place.
Yet, the latest spanner was thrown into Verstappen’s weekend when Nyck de Vries clipped the wall on lap 10 and drew out a safety car with his AlphaTauri’s suspension broken.
Red Bull saw the rookie’s crash and jumped at the chance to pit the Dutchamn, presumably hoping a virtual safety car would be thrown just as he pulled off track. However, it came there none - until Verstappen drove out of the pits.
The ensuing safety car allowed Perez, plus Leclerc, Carlos Sainz, Fernando Alonso, Lance Stroll and George Russell to pit under slower conditions with Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris also punished for earlier stops.
Verstappen made short work of Leclerc having dropped to third for the restart, with Perez up the road in a straight fight for the race win. Further back, Alonso pulled off a swift move on Sainz to grab fourth as Ferrari’s early promise again laboured.
The Red Bull pair eased away and yet the Mexican never looked threatened for the victory. A 1.8-second lead only increased as Verstappen complained of minor issues in his balance and braking, while the pair traded fastest lap honours.
But the race was Perez’s to lose and he crossed the line to secure a Red Bull 1-2.