Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Baku City Circuit, 2023

Perez holds off Verstappen to claim second Azerbaijan Grand Prix victory

2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix summary

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Sergio Perez won the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku ahead of team mate Max Verstappen after taking advantage of a well timed Safety Car to make his sole pit stop.

Verstappen had led the race but pitted just before the Safety Car was deployed, allowing Perez to pit and resume in the lead, which he never lost. Verstappen finished second after passing Charles Leclerc, who finished third.

The top 17 drivers lined up on the grid on medium compound tyres for the start of the race, with Leclerc lining up on pole position ahead of the two Red Bulls of Verstappen and Perez. When the lights went out, Leclerc again held onto the lead on the run to the first corner, heading Verstappen, Perez and Carlos Sainz Jnr in fourth.

Verstappen was all over the back of the Ferrari from the opening lap of the race. When DRS was enabled at the start of lap three, Verstappen easily tucked into Leclerc’s slipstream along the pit straight and breezed through into the lead to begin lap four. Two laps later it was Perez’s turn to slide past the Ferrari into turn one, putting Red Bull into first and second position.

After passing Leclerc, Perez kept in touch with his leading team mate. Then when Nyck de Vries hit the barrier at turn five, coming to a stop, Verstappen pitted from the lead to change onto hard tyres. Moments later, the Safety Car was deployed. This allowed Perez and Leclerc to cruise back to the pit lane under the Safety Car delta and switch to the hard tyres, with Perez and Leclerc both emerging ahead of Verstappen who was demoted to third.

The race resumed on lap 14 with Perez leading away from Leclerc and Verstappen, however Verstappen immediately passed Leclerc to take second place on the run to turn three. Both Red Bulls began to steadily pull away from Leclerc and the rest of the field behind, with Verstappen sitting just over a second from his race-leading team mate.

The two Red Bulls cruised out front with no pressure from anyone behind. Perez and Verstappen both lightly clipped the wall at turn 15 while they engaged in a private duel – Perez on the entry to the corner and Verstappen on the exit.

With ten laps remaining, Perez had edged out a lead of around three seconds to his team mate. Rather than close the gap and challenge for the lead, Verstappen could only maintain the gap at around three seconds as the laps began to tick down.

Eventually, Perez crossed the line at the end of lap 51 to take the chequered flag and secure his second victory of the season. Verstappen was just a few seconds behind him in second, with Leclerc coming to take the final podium position in third around 20 seconds adrift of the winner.

Fernando Alonso took fourth for Aston Martin, ahead of Sainz in the second Ferrari. Lewis Hamilton finished sixth for Mercedes, ahead of Lance Stroll and George Russell taking eighth after claiming the point for fastest lap with a late pit stop. Lando Norris finished ninth for McLaren, with Yuki Tsunoda taking the final point in tenth.

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2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix reaction

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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43 comments on “Perez holds off Verstappen to claim second Azerbaijan Grand Prix victory”

  1. Shortening the DRS zone helped a lot in this. But it felt as if the drivers could not stay behind another car for long

  2. Another terrible and dull race.

    These regulations were clearly a mistake.

    The races now are much, much worse than with the old cars, incredible.

    1. Pretty dull yep ,i think they need tyres that last much longer and drivers can attack much longer.

      1. The tyres lasted too long – that was one of the problems with this.

        The biggest problems are the cars and their unhealthy reliance on making too much performance from aero, plus the excessive amount of data the teams collect and constant coaching they do.

      2. Need tyres that last longer than 50 laps that Ocon did on a set of hards? I think you were watching a different race.

    2. Need to work on preventing DRS trains but the whole weeknd worked well for me :-)

    3. There are always dull races in any season.

      1. This person probably wasn’t watching F1 yet when they drove a procession on exactly this track in 2016, for instance.

        1. You and your friend there probably have trouble reading.

          One dull race happens.
          But every race to be a dud, it’s becoming a trend.

          Your re welcome for making me explaining the obvious that you were not capable to understand.

          1. Ofc we also have red bull domination this season and this doesn’t help make races interesting, last season early on was competitive, 2 seasons ago it was very competitive, but if you go back to 2020 it has to be pretty dull too, with some exceptional race where red bull was fast enough.

    4. That’s not true at all. There have been some odd terribly dull races like this one. But the regulations have clearly helped. We’ve had some excellent racing over the last two seasons. Some of you complain by default

  3. yesterday’s sprint was more exciting than this race.. disappointed, but it’s what it is.. let’s see what Miami has to offer.

    1. Yes, I’m surprised but the majority said so with their voting: 75% (at the time I checked, early on but already 84 votes) voted 5 or less for the sprint; 80% voted 5 or less for the race, terrible.

  4. The only upside of today’s race is the WDC got a bit more exciting. What a bore fest.

  5. Checo and street circuit – A true love story

    1. He won twice now in Baku. One time Max’s tyre blew up and today he got lucky with the SC.

      Not saying he didn’t do a good job just showing the stats don’t tell the whole story

      1. Last time he was lucky, no doubt about that. This year, however, he had the pace over Verstappen. Yes the safty car helped, but if Pérez hadn’t caught Verstappen so quickly, they wouldn’t have pitted him early in the first place.
        And after the restart he slowly but surely drove away.
        So, credits where it’s due because saying his was just due to the safety car is also not telling the whole story.

        1. I still need to see his 1st win with redbull completely on his own merit. All his wins something unlucky happened to Max. So there is a pattern there

          1. How this race wasn’t on his own merit, max didn’t retired and was on a street circuit with a long enough straight to make a pass, he might have been lucky yes, which is part of a race, but if max were faster this weekend he had all the space to overtake and win, he didn’t.

          2. He got the rub of the green with the safety car, but I think he had enough pace to make the move on track… He was lining up behind Max and was well within DRS range when they brought Max in to pit. After that he had enough pace to make sure Max never got within DRS range.

            If we look back to 2021, Checo was rapid in the race and if it wasn’t for a terrible pitstop he would have probably come out ahead of Max on track. 2022 he pushed too hard at the start and had massive deg on his tyres, Max was able to breeze past. I think this is something Checo has learned from last year is how to bring these tyres in. He even mentioned it after the race that he felt Max was trying to force him into pushing too hard too early, which he resisted doing.

        2. And actually remember that in 2021 perez was well off the pace majority of the season, he wasn’t doing a bottas-like job in terms of being close to his team mate in performance, in baku he was only 3 sec or so behind verstappen at the end of the race, before his puncture and was keeping hamilton behind, despite multiple overtaking attempts and despite merc being faster in a straight line, so being just behind verstappen before his problem confirms it’s a good track for perez.

      2. @anunaki Perez earned his “luck” with the SC. He was catching and would probably have passed Verstappen, which is why the team called Verstappen in, even though a SC was a distinct possibility with de Vries stopped on track.

  6. Russell’s tactics during the SC period were sneaky, but ultimately harmless.

    1. @jerejj I think I was dozing at that point (seriously, early Sunday morning here): what happened?

      1. If he is referring to overtaking Stroll in the pits then it was Stroll driving unnecesarily slowly.

        1. @f1mre Thanks, makes sense.

  7. That was a pretty good race by Perez. Is this Perez 2.0, I hope he gives it to Max and does not fall off like Bottas did on so many occasions. Max looked a bit concerned and it was funny how Horner on the radio post race trying to say “it’s not you max, it was the safety car” lol

    Thoughts on the rest , Gap to third is shocking, Alonso still one of the best ever, Lewis did great going from 11th to 6th after being caught out by the SC and Sainz goes not deserve to be in a Ferrari. 20 secs behind Leclerc??

    1. Completely agree. They are trying to get Sky to say that Ferrari is just behind Red Bull but it was almost 25 seconds between 2nd and 3rd in a 31 lap race. LEC even said he thought the Red Bulls have more power that went unused.
      And then it was another 20 seconds back to the mid-pack A group and another 10 seconds or so back to the mid-pack B group.

      1. It’s however a long-lap race, longer laps means more gap per lap, but yes, it’s only leclerc being that close (and alonso), sainz was much further behind.

  8. Watched the race highlights. Tragic when even the F1 commentator can’t help but point out how Leclerc had 0% of fighting to protect his position against the Mario Kart DRS silliness. Thanks Brawn & Co. for the failed technical changes!

    Also, Sainz is slower than Leclerc is slower than the Red Bulls. Not a good look.

    The addiction to pointless safety cars continued, and it ruined Verstappen’s race. If F1 can’t even handle a simple recovery at a slow corner with absolutely no straight whatsoever in sight, they might as well adopt Indycar’s automatic FCY system because this business of putting out yellows, and then waiting and waiting and waiting and only then converting to a FCY is meddling with the decision making of the teams and thus the race results.

    1. Thanks Brawn & Co. for the failed technical changes!

      It’s not the technical regulations’ fault that 9 teams fail to produce competitive cars.

      As for the financial regulations preventing them from learning and getting close during a season, well, that’s squarely on the FIA and Liberty.

      1. @proesterchen That would work if there was compelling fighting for places 3 through 20, but either they deliberately left them out of the highlights or there wasn’t much if any to be seen there either.

        It’s true that the financial regulations prevent (some!) teams from bruteforce spending their way out of a problem, but even those at the cap are still spending a full Indycar grid worth of money each year on a two car team. It’s not like they’re running short on cash. Their designs and their analysis of their problems just aren’t up to par.

        1. I don’t have anything against RB winning every race as they developed a rocket but there is no competetive racing farther back in the pack either. There were some moments when it looked like ALO would catch LEC, HAM would catch SAI, or RUS would catch STR, but none of it panned out.

          1. Interesting. I never really pay attention to battles lower than say 6th. I saw a massive Russel train in one of the last races, but had no idea they’ve ruined mid pack racing as well.

          2. Hamilton caught sainz, he was within 4 tenths multiple times, but he was too slow on the straight to overtake him, he even asked if they could give him more power at 7 laps to go; alonso was 4,5 sec behind leclerc 11 laps to go, so thought it was unlikely to catch him and overtake.

          3. Russell was also half a sec behind stroll earlier in the race, they showed that other indicator, 10 meters distance at one point in a corner, but again not enough to overtake.

        2. How can you have “compelling fights” when the 9 underachievers are split into a couple of groups of similar underperformance and the truly terrible Saubers?

          Fights require a performance differential, and DRS is specifically not tuned to allow meaningless, repetitive overtaking between cars of similar pace. (á la pack racing, shiver me timbers)

  9. IfImnotverymuchmistaken
    30th April 2023, 16:58

    Could’ve been a much more interesting race if not for DRS. We could’ve had a real three way fight for victory and podium places.
    The RBs would’ve had to work for it, and LEC would’ve had a chance to defend.
    Even if LEC, or any other non RB driver manages to take pole in any races in the future, they’ll be a sitting duck and passed without effort on the 3rd lap.
    It past time we’ve done away with DRS, F1 has outgrown it.

    1. Could’ve been a much more interesting race if not for DRS.

      You’re barking up the wrong tree.

      There are 9 teams that need to do a better job.

      1. Drs is the better solution: how long do you expect teams will need to catch up with red bull, years? DRS could be removed immediately if the fia thought it was a good idea, that way if a team gets a surprise pole, they actually have chances to defend.

        1. @esploratore1 The Red Bulls are uncatchable, DRS or no DRS. It’s ridiculous to think otherwise.

        2. Solution to what?

          That Ferrari once-in-a-blue-moon capable of getting pole is 1+ second a lap slower than the RBR in the race.

          Ferrari and 8 other teams ought to strive to improve their performance. No one with that kind of deficit deserves not getting overtaken.

  10. Another time saver. Watched until the close up the field safety car. Then skipped to the last 5 laps. Saw everything was the same and turned it off a couple laps early. Verdict: dull.

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