Azerbaijan F1 GP 2023 Perez secures victory over Verstappen
While Verstappen may feel hard done by the safety car timing, Perez proved to be the quicker driver on race day, securing his second victory of the season and closing the gap to Verstappen in the championship to just eight points.
As a result of Verstappen’s early pit stop, Perez, Leclerc, Sainz, Alonso, and Stroll were able to gain an advantage by stopping a lap later than Verstappen and fitting the preferred hard-compound tire.
When the safety car was deployed, Perez was in the lead, with Verstappen in third behind Leclerc. However, Verstappen quickly overtook Leclerc when the race restarted on lap 14, and began trading fastest laps with Perez.
Despite the Red Bulls’ fast pace, Perez managed to build a 1.5-second lead on the restart lap and stayed out of DRS range.
Throughout the next phase of the race, the gap between Perez and Verstappen remained at or above 1 second. However, Verstappen struggled with the balance of his RB19 and dropped back by over 2 seconds behind Perez. Although he managed to fix the issues, he was unable to put Perez under any significant pressure.
Both Red Bulls made contact with the Turn 15 wall, with Verstappen on the exit and Perez on the entry, indicating that they were both pushing hard in the intense battle.
While Verstappen may feel that the safety car intervention was not in his favor, the truth is that Perez was already putting him under pressure before the pit stop and was faster on the race day at this circuit.
Despite not being able to make setup changes to his car, Perez made up for the lost lap time in qualifying on Friday, which he believed was unnecessary, and his impressive victory by 2.1 seconds, his second of the season, helped him close the gap in the championship to just eight points behind Verstappen.
Leclerc finished in third place, a considerable 19 seconds behind the Red Bulls and just ahead of Alonso’s Aston Martin by less than a second.
The Aston Martins had a DRS issue earlier in the weekend but looked stronger during the Grand Prix, especially Alonso, who provided brake balance advice to his teammate over the radio.
During the race, Alonso observed that Hamilton’s Mercedes was struggling with rear tire graining in the early stages and predicted that the Aston Martin would soon overtake it. Hamilton’s pit stop before the safety car allowed Alonso to move up to fifth before the restart.
He then made a superbly opportunistic move on Carlos Sainz on the inside at Turn 4 to take fourth place, taking advantage of Sainz’s slight delay behind Leclerc after Verstappen overtook him at Turn 3.
Sainz had a challenging weekend and struggled to find comfort in the Ferrari, using the same setup that he used to be successful in the Australian Grand Prix before his penalty. He qualified eight-tenths behind Leclerc and was never in contention for a podium finish.
He finished more than 23 seconds behind Alonso and faced late pressure from Hamilton’s recovering Mercedes. Hamilton started in fifth place but fell to tenth by the time the safety car restart occurred.
However, he quickly moved up to eighth and overtook his teammate George Russell for seventh on the following lap. Hamilton then took advantage of a mistake by Lance Stroll at the final corner, making a DRS-assisted pass for sixth at Turn 1.
However, Sainz proved to be too much of a challenge for Hamilton, who finished in sixth place.
Stroll had a strong start and passed Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri and Norris’s McLaren on the first lap, reaching seventh place, where he finished after being overtaken by Hamilton.
Russell benefited from the timing of the safety car but struggled with the restart and finished in eighth place. He was not far behind Stroll before being called into the pits for soft tires on the penultimate lap to claim the fastest lap, which was previously held by Alonso’s Aston.
Ocon and Hulkenberg both started from the pit lane on the hardest tire after breaking parc ferme rules and making set-up changes before the race.
Ocon and Hulkenberg both rose to the bottom of the top 10 without making a pit stop until Norris passed Hulkenberg’s Haas at Turn 5/6 complex.
Hulkenberg’s tires were deteriorating quickly, and he lost further positions to Tsunoda, Piastri, Albon, and Magnussen before being called into the pits on the penultimate lap. Alpine and Haas were hoping for another safety car intervention that did not happen, so they had to make a mandatory pit stop before the chequered flag dropped.
As a result, Ocon dropped out of the top 10, and Norris and Tsunoda secured the last two points-scoring positions.
Ocon’s pit stop was so late that he had to avoid personnel who were getting ready to receive the finishing cars in parc ferme at the pit lane entry. This incident is likely to be investigated as a safety issue.
The results of the race held in Azerbaijan for the 2023 season are as follows.
Position Number Driver Team Car 1 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing Honda RB19 2 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda RB19 3 16 Charles Leclerc Scuderia Ferrari SF-23 4 14 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin F1 Team AMR23 5 55 Carlos Sainz Jr. Scuderia Ferrari SF-23 6 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team W14 7 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin F1 Team AMR23 8 63 George Russell Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team W14 9 4 Lando Norris McLaren Racing MCL60 10 22 Yuki Tsunoda Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda AT04 11 81 Oscar Piastri McLaren Racing MCL60 12 23 Alexander Albon Williams Racing FW45 13 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Team VF-23 14 10 Pierre Gasly Alpine F1 Team A523 15 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine F1 Team A523 16 2 Logan Sargeant Williams Racing FW45 17 27 Nico Hulkenberg Haas F1 Team VF-23 18 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Racing C43 DNF 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo Racing C43 DNF 21 Nyck de Vries Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda AT04
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Perez secures victory over Verstappen Azerbaijan F1 GP 2023 Perez secures victory over Verstappen Azerbaijan F1 GP 2023 Perez secures victory over Verstappen Azerbaijan F1 GP 2023 Perez secures victory over Verstappen Azerbaijan F1 GP 2023