Max Verstappen led a comfortable Red Bull 1-2 in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as four Ferrari-powered cars broke down including Formula 1 title challenger Charles Leclerc while he was in the race lead.
Poleman Leclerc lost the lead to Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez at the first turn on the opening lap and had Verstappen on the back of him when he used a virtual safety car period to make an early switch to the hard tyres.
That virtual safety car was deployed for the stricken Ferrari of Leclerc’s team-mate Carlos Sainz, who retired with a hydraulic failure while running in a distant fourth place.
This left Leclerc as the sole remaining Ferrari while Verstappen caught Perez at the front of the field and sent it down the inside of Turn 1 – helped by a ‘no fight’ radio message to Perez – to take the lead.
When the Red Bulls made their first pitstops they came out over 10 seconds behind Leclerc who looked to be on a two-stop.
But before they could even get a chance to chase Leclerc down, the Ferrari driver’s engine blew up on the main straight on lap 20 of 51.
Although it’s unclear whether Verstappen would have overhauled him later in the race, it marks Leclerc’s second technical failure while leading in three races and puts him 34 points adrift in the drivers’ championship.
Leclerc and Sainz weren’t the only Ferrari-powered cars to retire as Kevin Magnussen lost a likely points finish when he had to stop his Haas and 2022 rookie Zhou Guanyu’s strong race was curtailed just before half-distance.
When Leclerc retired with what’s believed to be a power unit issue, the Red Bulls controlled the race out front with an extra pitstop when Magnussen’s stricken car caused another VSC.
Verstappen eased away from Perez after he was waved through and ultimately won the grand prix by 21.259s.
George Russell was comfortably the lead driver behind the Red Bull and Ferrari drivers all-race long and claimed the final place on the podium – his third with Mercedes.
Russell’s team-mate Lewis Hamilton earned his best result since the Bahrain season-opener in fourth place, but had to work hard for it.
Hamilton pitted under that Magnussen-induced VSC and used fresh tyres to hunt down and pass Pierre Gasly with seven laps to go.
Gasly still picked up fifth place, which is comfortably his best result of what has been a tricky 2022 season.
His team-mate Yuki Tsunoda was in contention for a top six before a bizarre DRS issue occurred whereby only half of his DRS flap opened.
This inevitably led to the black-and-orange flag forcing Tsunoda to come into the pits. AlphaTauri attempted to remedy the issue with duct tape and told Tsunoda not to use his DRS.
Sebastian Vettel recovered from a brief trip down the escape road while trying to overtake Alpine’s Esteban Ocon to pick up sixth place and his best finish of the season.
Ocon’s team-mate Fernando Alonso was seventh ahead of the McLaren duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris – only the second time Ricciardo has finished ahead this season.
Ricciardo was helped by running a long first stint on the hard tyres and then switching to the mediums under the VSC.
Ocon claimed the final point, while Valtteri Bottas could do little to recover from his tricky qualifying and finished in 11th ahead of Alex Albon and Tsunoda.
|Pos||Name||Car||Laps||Laps Led||Total Time||Fastest Lap||Pitstops||Pts|
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||51||23||1h34m05.941s||1m46.05s||2||25|
|2||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull||51||14||+20.823s||1m46.046s||2||19|
|5||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri-Red Bull||51||0||+1m17.299s||1m48.519s||1||10|
|6||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin-Mercedes||51||0||+1m24.099s||1m48.206s||1||8|
|11||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||50||0||+1 lap||1m48.179s||1||0|
|12||Alex Albon||Williams-Mercedes||50||0||+1 lap||1m47.966s||2||0|
|13||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri-Red Bull||50||0||+1 lap||1m47.523s||2||0|
|14||Mick Schumacher||Haas-Ferrari||50||0||+1 lap||1m48.41s||2||0|
|15||Nicholas Latifi||Williams-Mercedes||50||0||+1 lap||1m49.583s||2||0|
|Lance Stroll||Aston Martin-Mercedes||45||0||DNF||1m48.038s||2||0|
|Guanyu Zhou||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||22||0||DNF||1m48.723s||2||0|