Formula 1

Perez passes Leclerc to win F1 sprint race in Baku

by Matt Beer
2 min read

Sergio Perez overcame polesitter Charles Leclerc to maintain Red Bull’s unbeaten 2023 Formula 1 run in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix sprint, with Max Verstappen only third after picking up damage in a contentious early dice with George Russell.

Russell got a better start than second-row partner Verstappen and the Mercedes and Red Bull made light contact several times through the opening corners before Russell got fully ahead – something an angry Verstappen felt was entirely down to the tap he’d received from the Mercedes and which prompted him to confront Russell right after the race in parc ferme.

But Russell couldn’t stay in front for long. At the restart from an early safety car period for debris from Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri – which had hit the wall, lost a tyre, limped back to the pits, then been sent back out still with damaged suspension – Verstappen put a clean pass on Russell and reclaimed third.

That’s where he stayed, as up front Perez used Red Bull’s DRS superiority to breeze past Leclerc’s Ferrari soon after the restart and then edge away to take his second race victory of 2023 after winning the Saudi Arabian GP.

Verstappen struggled to make a significant challenge on Charles Leclerc’s second place with clear damage to his RB19 – a hole in his sidepod could be seen in parc ferme.

In the same moment that Russell lost third to Verstappen, the second Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton was overtaken for fifth by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and then pushed down to seventh by the opportunistic Fernando Alonso too.

Alonso’s Aston Martin team-mate Lance Stroll overtook qualifying hero Alex Albon’s Williams to secure the final point in eighth.

Albon and Oscar Piastri’s McLaren completed the top 10. Piastri’s team-mate Lando Norris was 10th early on but was one of a handful of drivers to use soft tyres in a mostly medium field. It didn’t pay off and he fell to 17th after falling off the pace and then pitting to get rid of them.

Sprint Qualifying Results

Pos Name Car Gap Best Time
1 Sergio Pérez Red Bull 1m43.616s
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +4.453s 1m43.646s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull +5.055s 1m43.723s
4 George Russell Mercedes +8.522s 1m44.409s
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +10.378s 1m44.398s
6 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin-Mercedes +11.603s 1m44.544s
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +16.493s 1m44.601s
8 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes +18.407s 1m44.855s
9 Alex Albon Williams-Mercedes +21.747s 1m44.915s
10 Oscar Piastri McLaren-Mercedes +22.841s 1m44.776s
11 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari +27.98s 1m45.349s
12 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +34.592s 1m45.766s
13 Pierre Gasly Alpine-Renault +36.908s 1m45.883s
14 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT +41.616s 1m45.768s
15 Nico Hülkenberg Haas-Ferrari +48.577s 1m45.971s
16 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +49.907s 1m46.277s
17 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes +51.094s 1m44.484s
18 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault +1m0.611s 1m45.09s
Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT 0s
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