Sergio Pérez beats Max Verstappen to victory to reduce his championship deficit on a somewhat surprisingly straightforward Sunday afternoon in Baku.

Christian Horner has defended pitting Max Verstappen from the lead just second before a safety car neutralized the race and promoted teammate Sergio Perez into first place and an eventual victory.

Verstappen had been leading the race on lap 10 when Nyck de Vries struck the apex barrier at Turn 5 and broke his front-left suspension, forcing him to park his car halfway onto the Turn 6 run-off area.

Red Bull Racing called Verstappen into the pits that same lap – he was exiting Turn 14 at the time of the crash, and as he dived into the pit entry, the incident was still covered by localised yellow flags.

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The FIA will reconsider its parc ferme procedures following a stewards investigation into people blocking Esteban Ocon’s entry into the pit lane on the final lap of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Ocon had started the race from pit lane and run the first 50 laps on a set of hard tires hoping that a late red flag or safety car would grant his a free or cheap route into the points.

With no sign of an incident as Sergio Perez started the final lap, the Frenchman was called into he pits to concede defeat on the strategy and make his mandatory tire change.

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Charles Leclerc says Red Bull Racing’s RB19 is in another league compared to the rest of the grid after finishing a distant third to a dominant Sergio Perez-Max Verstappen one-two.

Leclerc started from pole position and held off both Verstappen and Perez at launch, but his defence of the lead was destined to be short-lived.

Verstappen breezed past him on lap 4 once DRS had been activated, and Perez wasn’t far behind, demoting Leclerc to third on lap 6 before the Red Bull Racing drivers charged up the road to an eventual 21-second victory over the Ferrari driver.

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Sergio Perez led Max Verstappen to a dominant Red Bull Racing one-two finish at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after a conveniently timed safety car catapulted him into the lead.

Verstappen and Perez trailed polesitter Charles Leclerc at the start, but there was no holding them back once DRS was activated. Verstappen breezed past on lap 4 with an almost embarrassing advantage of 19mph, and Perez followed him through two tours later.

The Mexican was the quickest driver on track at that point, and he reeled off a series of fastest laps to close to within a second of his leading teammate and set up a duel for the lead.

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Sergio PĂ©rez easily beats Charles Leclerc to victory in the sprint, while Max Verstappen fumes about George Russell’s driving standards.

Max Verstappen wants Formula 1 to scrap sprint weekends and focus instead on finding ways to close the field after the first Saturday of the year run to the tweaked trial format.

F1 introduced the sprint format in 2021 as a trial to address the balance between competitive track time and practice sessions. This year there will be six sprint rounds, the first of which is this weekend in Azerbaijan.

Under the original sprint rules, qualifying was moved to Friday and set the grid for a 30-minute, 62-mile race in the previous qualifying slot in the schedule on Saturday. The results of the sprint would then set the starting order for Sunday’s grand prix.

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Second place in the Azerbaijan sprint confirmed Ferrari’s post-qualifying prediction that it still doesn’t have the race pace to contend for victory despite having made a clear step forward, reckons Charles Leclerc.

Leclerc held off a charging Sergio Perez at the start of the sprint, but his defence of the lead lasted only until DRS was enabled following an early safety car intervention.

The SF-23’s strong form through the technical middle sector wasn’t enough to generate a buffer, and the Mexican breezed past down the front straight and onwards to a comfortable victory.

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George Russell says Max Verstappen should have known the risks associated with trying to hold position around the outside of a corner after the two drivers made contact on the first lap of the Azerbaijan sprint.

Verstappen started third alongside Russell, whose third place grid spot gave him the inside line for the first three corners, and the Briton made the most of it by claiming the apex of all three and forcing the Dutchman to try to cling on with a wider line to hold position.

Both got through the first corner cleanly, but Russell’s front-right wheel tagged the left side of Verstappen’s car as they exited Turn 2, tearing a hole in the RB19’s sidepod and causing other minor damage.

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Sergio Perez eased to a comfortable victory at the Azerbaijan sprint ahead of Charles Leclerc.

Perez started from second alongside Leclerc but couldn’t jump the Ferrari off the line. The race was then neutralized at the end of the first lap with a safety car owing to Yuki Tsunoda crashing his car at Turn 14.

Leclerc managed the restart beautifully when the race resumed on lap 6 of 17, but his SF-23 wasn’t a match for the RB19’s straight-line speed, particularly with DRS enabled down the long front straight.

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The Azerbaijan grand prix will remain on the Formula 1 calendar until at least the end of 2026 after inking a new three-year deal.

Except 2020 due to the pandemic, the Baku race has been a mainstay of the calendar since its debut in 2016, then with the European Grand Prix moniker, and has established itself as one of the sport’s most popular street circuits for its quirky mixed-speed layout and unpredictable results.

No driver has won in Baku more than once and only Charles Leclerc has taken more than one pole position.

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Franz Tost says AlphaTauri was forced to announce its acquisition of Laurent Mekies earlier than anticipated because the news had begun to leak in the Italian media.

AlphaTauri issued a press release on the eve of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend announcing that Tost would step down as team principal at the end of the season to make way for current Ferrari racing director Mekies, with Peter Bayer taking up the CEO role.

The press release came as a surprise to Ferrari principal Frederic Vasseur, who said his team wasn’t yet ready to commit to releasing the French engineer.

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Charles Leclerc beat both Red Bull drivers to pole position for the second day in a row despite crashing out of the first-ever sprint shootout.

Leclerc again wielded his Ferrari’s formidable pace in the technical middle sector to set the fastest time in the new condensed qualifying session, but a snap of oversteer entering Turn 5 led to him sliding nose-first into the outside barrier, ending his session early.

Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen were presented with an open goal to snatch top spot, but neither was able to improve by enough to deprive the Monegasque of a second one-lap triumph in 24 hours.

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Charles Leclerc snatches a memorable pole position ahead of Max Verstappen, but expectations of a Ferrari resurgence are being kept low.

Pierre Gasly has accepted full responsibility for crashing his car in Q1 and ending up 19th on the grid for Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The first qualifying segment had only just resumed from a red flag to collect Nyck de Vries’s crashed AlphaTauri car at Turn 3 when Gasly careened into the wall at the same corner, forcing another suspension.

It was a demoralising conclusion to a difficult day for the Frenchman, who set only seven laps in first practice before his car set itself alight and forced him to stop on track.

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Max Verstappen was left ruing a different tire preparation lap before his crucial final Q3 lap that he believes cost him pole position to Charles Leclerc for Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Verstappen and Leclerc were neck and neck after their first laps but the Ferrari driver pulled away with his second attempt to seal top spot by 0.188s. The difference all came from the second sector, in particular from the exit of the castle section at the top of the hill and the long run down to Turn 15, what is effectively the penultimate corner.

It’s the first pole position of the season for a team other than Red Bull Racing, but rather than it signifying a swing in momentum or even a setup error, Verstappen put the loss of top spot down to a misjudgment preparing his tires for his final lap.

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Charles Leclerc isn’t convinced Ferrari has the pace to convert pole to victory in Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix but says the car’s unexpected turn of speed is welcome nonetheless after a difficult start to the season.

Leclerc beat title leader Max Verstappen to pole position by 0.188s after the pair had set identical times with their first runs in Q3, the difference coming in the technical middle sector of the track. It was the Monegasque’s third consecutive pole in Baku but first of the year and first since last season’s Singapore Grand Prix in October.

Ferrari has endured its worst start to a Formula 1 campaign in years, having slipped well off Red Bull Racing’s pace since the end of last season, Leclerc admitted he didn’t expect to be in the pole conversation this weekend.

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Charles Leclerc bested Max Verstappen to start Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix from pole position for the third year in succession.

Ferrari had looked quick all day in Baku, vying for top spot in the single hour of practice afforded to the drivers under the sprint rules and looking consistently competitive through the qualifying hour.

The scene was set for a duel between Leclerc and Verstappen, and the pair set equal times with their first laps, the Dutchman taking top spot by virtue of crossing the line first.

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