Azerbaijan GP 2023
APRIL 30, 2023
Race Notes - Perez takes Red Bull Bull 1-2 in Azerbaijan
By Mark Karp
Sergio Perez in the Red Bull-Honda won the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, followed by his teammate Max Verstappen. 2.137s behind. Polesitter Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari finished third, 21.217s behind the winner.
It is the 25th Red Bull 1-2 finish. Of Perez’s six career victories, 5 of them have come on street circuits.
In the 2023 season Verstappen and Perez have now both taken two wins apiece. Verstappen now leads Perez by 6 points in the Drivers’ Championship.
Fernando Alonso (22.024s) in the Aston Martin-Mercedes’ string of third place finishes has come to an end with a fourth, followed by Carlos Sainz (45.491s) in the second Ferrari was fifth, Lewis Hamilton (46.145s) in the Mercedes GP was sixth, Lance Stroll (51.617s) in the second Aston Martin was seventh, George Russell (1m14.240s) in the second Mercedes was eighth, Lando Norris (1m20.376s) in the McLaren-Mercedes was ninth, and Yuki Tsunoda (1m23.862s) in the AlphaTauri-Honda took the final point in tenth place.
Before the start of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with the weather hotter than Saturday, Leclerc and Verstappen are on the front row, Perez and Sainz on row 2, Hamilton and Alonso on row 3, Norris and Tsunoda on row 4, and Stroll and Piastri rounding out the top ten.
Ocon and Hulkenberg starting from the pitlane, both starting on hard tyres, the rest of the field starting on medium tyres, expecting a one stop race.
At the appointed time the field came around, the lights went out and the race began with Leclerc takes the lead with Verstappen, Perez, Sainz, Hamilton, Alonso and Stroll following. Piastri touches Bottas.
At the end of lap 1 Leclerc leads Verstappen by 0.5 seconds.
On lap 3, with DRS enabled, Verstappen passes Leclerc for the lead.
On lap 4 Verstappen sets fastest lap at 1m47.108s.
On lap 6 Perez breezes by Leclerc for second place in the DRS zone.
On lap 6 Perez sets fastest lap at 1m47.073s, and then 1m46.885s the next lap.
On lap 8 Albon pits for hard tyres and rejoins 18th.
On lap 8 Verstappan sets fast lap at 1m46.801s.
Tsunoda and Piastri pit for hard tyres.
On lap 9 Hamilton pits from 5th for hard tyres and rejoins in 12th, Norris pits and rejoins 13th.
On lap Devries off turn 6.
Verstappen pits for hard tyres and rejoins in seventh.
The safety car is out. Perez is in the lead.
Perez, Leclerc, Sainz, Alonso, Russell, Stroll, Zhou all pit.
Behind the safety car the order is Perez, followed by Leclerc, Verstappen, Sainz, Alonso, Russell, Stroll, Ocon, Hulkenberg, Hamilton, Norris, Tsunoda, Piastri, Zhou, Albon, Gasly, Magnussen, Sargeant and Bottas in 19th, all drivers on hard tyres.
At the end of lap 13 the safety car comes in and the race resumes with Perez leading. Partway on the lap Verstappen takes second from Leclerc. Alonso passes Sainz for fourth.
On lap 13 Perez sets fast lap at 1m45.798s.
Hamilton passes his teammate Russell for seventh place.
On lap 14 Verstappen sets fast lap at 1m45.687s, then the next lap at 1m45.497s.
Stroll tells the team that he touched the wall, but continues.
On lap 18 Verstappen sets fast lap at 1m45.425s.
On leap 20 Stroll makes a mistake and then Hamilton passes Stroll for sixth place.
At lap 20 Perez leads Verstappen by 1.2 seconds, followed by Leclerc (9.2s), Alonso (12.0s), Sainz (13.4s), Hamilton (14.9s), Stroll (16.5s), Russell (17.5s), Ocon (20.8s) and Hulkenberg (22.7s in tenth place.
Hamilton is closing on Sainz in fifth.
Russell tells the team that Stroll is struggling with his rear tyres, and the should consider going to ‘Plan B’.
Hulkenberg touches the wall but continues.
At lap 25 Perez leads Verstappen by 1.4 seconds, followed by Leclerc (13.0s), Alonso (15.7s), Sainz (19.3s), Hamilton (20.6s), Stroll (22.3s), Russell (23.6s), Ocon (32.7s) yet to pit, and Hulkenberg (34.2s) in tenth place.
Verstappen reports, “the balance between the diff and engine breaking is not good.”
On lap 30 Perez sets fast lap at 1m45.394s.
Alonso is slowly closing on Leclerc in third.
On lap 31 Vertappen sets fast lap at 1m45.348s, Perez sets it the next lap at 1m45.311s.
Verstappen brushes the wall but continues.
Gasly passes Bottas for 18th.
Perez touches the wall but continues.
On lap 35 Verstappen sets fast lap at 1m45.218s.
At lap 35 Perez leads Verstappen by 2.5 seconds, followed by Leclerc (18.7s), Alonso (21.6s), Sainz (31.4s), Hamilton (32.1s), Stroll (34.7s), Russell (36.9s), Ocon (51.9s) and Hulkenberg (53.2s)
On lap 35 Perez sets fast lap at 1m44.869s.
Hamilton is closing again on Sainz in fifth.
On lap 38 Zhou pits and retires.
On lap 43 Leclerc sets fast lap at 1,44.670s.
At lap 45 Perez continues to lead Verstappen by 3.7 seconds, followed by Leclerc (20.1s), Alonso (23.6s), Sainz (41.7s), Hamilton (42.3s), Stroll (44.7s), Russell (46.2s), Ocon (1m09.7s) and Hulkenberg (1,13.2s) in tenth place, Ocon and Hulkenberg still yet to pit.
On lap 46 Norris passes Hulkenberg for tenth place.
On lap 47 Tsunoda passes Hulkenberg for 11th.
On lap 48 Alonso sets fast lap at 1m44.541s.
On lap 49 there is a yellow flag in sector 1, as Russell goes wide, but continues.
On lap 49 Alonso goes faster at 1m44.241s and trails Leclerc by 1.9 seconds.
Russell pits and rejoins in eighth. Hulkenberg pits.
On lap 51 Ocon pits.
At the flag Perez wins ahead of Verstappen and Leclerc.
On the final lap Verstappen takes fast lap at 1m44.232s, but then George Russell takes the fastest lap at 1m43.370s.