Defending champion Max Verstappen pulls away in the Formula 1 World Championship. The Dutchman uses another debacle at Ferrari to win in Baku. Sebastian Vettel achieved his best result of the season.
Baku – Deeply frustrated by the next Ferrari fiasco, Charles Leclerc left the garage early on as Max Verstappen raced to his fifth Formula 1 win of the season.
A major engine failure had stopped the leading Leclerc abruptly on the streets of Baku, and world champion Verstappen promptly expanded his world championship lead.
Ferrari off and Red Bull double success in Baku
“It hurts. We need to look at it to learn from it. It’s totally disappointing. It’s hard to understand,” Leclerc complained after the blow at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Second, Sergio Pérez made the third Red Bull double win of the year perfect. “It was a super day for us. Maybe it was a bit of luck with the retirements, but our car was very good,” said Verstappen. They were followed by the Mercedes duo of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton, because Carlos Sainz in the second Ferrari also did not reach the finish line due to an early brake defect.
“Of course that worries us,” admitted Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto. After all, reliability is a key factor in the World Championship fight. “You have to be patient, then we will find solutions,” said Binotto. But there is not much time left. The ninth round of the season in Canada is scheduled for next Sunday.
“I just can’t find the right words to describe it,” Leclerc admitted. A driving error in Imola, a broken engine in Barcelona and a strategy breakdown in Monaco had cost him many points recently. In the overall classification, he fell back to third place. Leclerc was 46 points ahead of Verstappen after the Australian race in mid-April, but are now 34 points behind.
Red Bull pilots lead in the classification
The Dutchman increased his tally to 150 points with a superior drive to his 25th win of his career. His team-mate Pérez is now 21 points behind in second.
Sebastian Vettel secured his best result of the season so far with a strong sixth place in the Aston Martin. Although he didn’t get the corner during an overtaking manoeuvre, he kept fighting and was successful with a courageous tire strategy. “Without the spin, we would have had an easier race and might have finished fifth. All in all, it was a good weekend for us,” said the 34-year-old on Sky TV.
Vettel is sixth – Schumacher disappointed
Mick Schumacher, who had to settle for 14th place in the Haas, experienced another disappointment. “The whole weekend was difficult,” said the 23-year-old. Last after qualifying, he was hoping for some chaos to finally be able to capture his first championship points. He drove at the end of the field without a chance and was unable to counter the recent growing criticism after his series of accidents. In Canada he is now looking for a new start. “We’ll have to see if other routes suit us better,” said Schumacher.
For the fourth time in a row, Leclerc had placed his Ferrari in first place. His pole positions hadn’t brought him any luck recently. Neither in Miami nor in Barcelona or Monaco could he convert the starting advantage into a win. This time, too, the lead was quickly gone.
Buoyed by his triumph in Monte Carlo and the extension of his contract until 2024, Pérez overtook Leclerc before the first corner. Verstappen also got off to a good start, but was no longer able to squeeze past his Ferrari rival.
Drivers use safety car for pit stops
Sainz then caused the first turbulence. The fourth-placed Spaniard suddenly rolled out. Diagnosis: Hydraulic damage on the Ferrari. The virtual safety car slowed down the field for the clean-up work. Leclerc and a few others used this for a pit stop.
In contrast, both Red Bull fell by the wayside. Verstappen was allowed to get past Pérez without a fight so as not to lose too much time on Leclerc, who was rushing on with fresh tires. When both Red Bull drivers came to the garage for service, the Ferrari star took the lead.
The next drama for the Scuderia followed a little later: As in Barcelona, smoke rose from Leclerc’s engine. Desperately, the 24-year-old radioed to the pits on lap 20: “The power is gone.” Leclerc dragged himself back into the pit lane at a snail’s pace, climbed out of the car and waved at the audience with a sad expression. The way was finally clear for Red Bull’s double success. dpa