Sergio Pérez took advantage of a fortunately timed safety car to beat his teammate Max Verstappen to the win in the Formula One Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday, adding it to the sprint he won the day before, as Red Bull kept up its winning start to 2023.
Verstappen started second behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc but swept past him on the long start-finish straight at the end of lap 3, the first lap on which drivers were allowed to use the DRS overtake assist system on the rear wing.
It was a copy of the pass Pérez made on Leclerc on his way to winning the sprint race Saturday. After Verstappen took the lead Sunday, Pérez needed only two more laps for his own similar pass on Leclerc to seize second, as Red Bull underlined its status as F1’s dominant team.
Pérez benefited when an accident by Nyck de Vries brought out the safety car after his AlphaTauri slid off the track with a broken suspension, just after Verstappen had pitted from the lead. The safety car meant Pérez and Leclerc lost less time on their stops and came out ahead of Verstappen.
After that, the two Red Bull drivers pulled away from the pack and cruised to a straightforward win. Red Bull has won all four Grand Prix races this season and the sprint in Baku on Saturday. Leclerc was third to continue his recovery after a poor start to the year.
“Well done guys, we dominated this weekend,” Perez told his team over the radio. “We are in the fight, guys.”
Perez is now six points behind Verstappen with two wins each after four rounds.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who started in pole position for the third year in a row in Baku, finished a distant third for his team’s first podium appearance of the year with George Russell claiming the fastest lap for Mercedes.
(With input from Reuters)