By Robert Haile
The first Sprint Race of the 2023 season is upon us with qualifying and the race taking place on the same day.
The new format has both qualifying and race taking place on the same day with no effect on the Sunday Grand Prix.
For the second qualifying of the 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc took pole position as Red Bull’s swapped positions with Sergio Perez beating teammate Max Verstappen to second and a place on the front row.
Mercedes George Russell had a better sprint qualifying taking fourth with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz fifth, Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes is sixth with Williams Alex Albon in seventh.
Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll took eighth and ninth as McLaren’s Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri tenth and eleventh continued a good weekend.
Nico Hulkenberg starts twelfth for Haas while Alpine’s Esteban Ocon took thirteenth but will start from the pit lane.
Haas Kevin Magnussen finished fourteenth but will start thirteenth as Williams Logan Sargeant claimed fifteenth but has been withdrawn from the race after hitting the wall.
Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas take sixteenth and seventeenth for Alfa Romeo, Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri is eighteenth as Alpine’s Pierre Gasly and AlphaTauri’s Nyck de Vries are nineteenth and twentieth.
The seventeen lap race provided plenty of drama as Russell and Verstappen went wheel to wheel in the opening exchanges as Tsunoda hit the wall.
It was open season for the drivers with teams allowing drivers to fight for places as Piastri passed Norris and Magnussen and Hulkenberg battled over eleventh.
Ultimately Red Bull proved to strong though Leclerc fended off Perez at both restarts the Mexican found a way past and went on to win the race by almost 5 seconds as Verstappen passed Russell to reclaim third.
Sainz took fifth with Alonso, Hamilton and Stroll in eighth taking the last point on offer.
The Constructors Championship is even more ominous with Red Bull holding a 49 point lead over Aston Martin and Mercedes who are on the same points.
- Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 75
- Sergio Perez (Red Bull) – 62
- Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) – 48
- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 40
- Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) – 24
- George Russell (Mercedes) – 23
- Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) – 21
- Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 13
- Lando Norris (McLaren) – 8
- Nico Hulkenberg (Haas) – 6
- Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) – 4
- Esteban Ocon (Alpine) – 4
- Oscar Piastri (McLaren) – 4
- Pierre Gasly (Alpine) – 4
- Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo) – 2
- Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) – 1
- Kevin Magnussen (Haas) – 1
- Alex Albon (Williams) – 1
- Logan Sargent (Williams) – 0
- Nyck De Vries (AlphaTauri) – 0
- Red Bull – 137
- Aston Martin – 69
- Mercedes – 63
- Ferrari – 37
- McLaren – 12
- Alpine – 8
- Haas – 7
- Alfa Romeo – 6
- AlphaTauri – 1
- Williams – 1