By Robert Haile
The streets of Baku provided plenty of excitement as Max Verstappen took podium number 66 of his Red Bill career as he won the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
It was Red Bull’s fifth win in a row and sixth of the season as Verstappen and Sergio Perez took to the top two steps of the podium.
Race winner and championship leader Verstappen said: “Today we had incredible pace in the car, we could really look after the tyres and we could chip away for the lead.
“Checo (Perez) did a good job at the start getting ahead of Charles (Leclerc), I got blocked in and couldn’t go anywhere. Once I was on the hard tyres and in the lead and I could just manage it and could control the gap.
“It would have been good to have had a battle with Charles today but he had a DNF. To get a 1-2 for the Team was really good, we’ve scored some good points today and made the gap bigger to Ferrari.
“There’s still a long way to go, it’s a long season so we need to keep pushing as a Team.”
It could have ended differently with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc starting on pole with Perez next to him and Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz on the second row with Verstappen.
Ferrari lost out at the start as Perez and Verstappen moved into first and third.
Then on lap nine the first of the Ferrari pair retired as Sainz retired pulling over on the track at turn four bring out a Virtual Safety Car during which Leclerc pitted for fresh tyres but dropped to third after a slow stop.
As the Red Bull’s and remaining Ferrari left the rest of the field it was soon just the Red Bull’s running as on lap 20 Leclerc’s Ferrari produced a puff of white smoke and then crawled back to the pits to retire.
It was now Verstappen, Perez and Mercedes’ George Russell in third with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly taking fourth off McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo.
Russell’s teammate Lewis Hamilton closed in and passed Ricciardo for fifth.
After another round of pit stops Hamilton dropped to sixth with Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda ahead of him.
The former champion Hamilton passed Tsunoda, who ended the race with a duct taped wing and then Gasly to move up to fourth.
Gasly finished in fifth with Tsunoda dropping to thirteenth with the pit stop to fix his rear wing.
Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel moved up sixth, Alpine’s Fernando Alonso took seventh as McLaren’s duo of Ricciardo and Lando Norris finished eighth and ninth with Alpine’s Esteban Ocon in tenth for a double points finish for the team.
It wasn’t just Ferrari that had engine trouble but Alfa Romeo with Zhou Guanyu and Haas with Kevin Magnussen, both powered by Ferrari engines, retired from the race.
Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas finished in eleventh, Williams’ Alex Albon ahead of Tsunoda with Hass’ Mick Schumacher and Williams’ Nicholas Latifi the last of the drivers in fifteenth.
Next up is the Canada Grand Prix and the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, Montréal on June 17-19.
- Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 150
- Sergio Perez (Red Bull) – 129
- Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 116
- George Russell (Mercedes) – 99
- Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) – 83
- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 62
- Lando Norris (McLaren) – 50
- Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) – 40
- Esteban Ocon (Alpine) – 31
- Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) – 16
- Fernando Alonso (Alpine) – 16
- Kevin Magnussen (Haas) – 15
- Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) – 15
- Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) – 13
- Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) – 11
- Alex Albon (Williams) – 3
- Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) – 2
- Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo) – 1
- Mick Schumacher (Haas) – 0
- Nico Hulkenberg (Aston Martin) – 0
- Nicholas Latifi (Williams) – 0
- Red Bull – 279
- Ferrari – 199
- Mercedes – 161
- McLaren – 65
- Alpine – 47
- Alfa Romeo – 41
- AlphaTauri – 27
- Haas – 15
- Aston Martin – 15
- Williams – 3