2021 Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix highlights

2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Thursday – Steve Etherington
Red Bull Racing


Mexican Red Bull Racing Honda driver Sergio Pérez took the victory at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix at Baku City Circuit, the sixth of 23 races.

With only five laps remaining and in the lead, fellow Red Bull Racing Honda driver Max Verstappen crashed out of the race on Lap 47 after suffering a tyre issue. The incident triggered the Safety Car and a red flag that suspended the race at Lap 48. The race resumed with a standing start 35 minutes later at Lap 50, which left everything to play for in a sprint during the remaining two laps.

The restart was led by Pérez, and it was Pérez who crossed the line first, followed by Germany’s Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel in second place and Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda driver Pierre Gasly in third.

Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda rookie Yuki Tsunoda finished in seventh place.

With the cancellation of the Canadian Grand Prix next weekend, as well as the Turkish Grand Prix that was due to replace it, the next race will be the French Grand Prix at Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet, which has been brought forward from June 27 to June 20.

Sergio Perez

We love Baku! It feels amazing to get my first win with Red Bull. The Team did a tremendous job and I want to thank Mr Mateschitz for this great opportunity and for giving me the seat. I feel very sorry for Max because he deserved the win and a 1-2 for the Team would’ve been very enjoyable. It was a crazy roller coaster of a race, we were basically flat out from the very first lap and I had Lewis behind pushing me so I couldn’t breathe, it was very challenging but we kept our focus.

Everything worked perfectly today apart from the restart at the end where I just had no grip. I thought ‘I cannot lose this race two laps from the flag’, so I broke as late as I could into Turn 1 and then I saw Lewis locking up and go straight on into the run-off. It just shows how on-the-limit we are, the speeds we are doing are tremendous and I am sorry for Lewis because it’s very painful when these things happen but we are all vulnerable to mistakes.

We have to enjoy today, our pace was great and we have a very good race car. We are working flat out and giving our best every week, it’s only the sixth race and there’s more to come from me, the relationship with Max and the Team is great and there’s still a long way to go in this championship.

Max Verstappen

To retire from the lead of the race so close to the finish is pretty frustrating. I didn’t feel anything strange with the car and then suddenly the left rear went and I was in the wall quite hard. It’s not a nice place to crash and we don’t know the exact cause yet, I’m sure it will be fully investigated. Up until that point, it was a great day, the car felt perfect and I was comfortable in the lead so it felt like it would be an easy 1-2 but there are no guarantees in this sport.

Of course, I am frustrated from my side not to win but I was very happy to see Checo up there. He did everything that the Team could have wanted today. He had a great start and then we both got past Lewis in the pits. I heard he had to defend for most of the race, so if I couldn’t win, I’m glad he could. He’s a great guy and a great team-mate so it was good to see him smiling on the podium and having his first win for Red Bull.

It’s a shame that we missed out on the opportunity to make the gap bigger to Lewis today in the championship as we know when we get back to the normal tracks Mercedes will be very strong again, but it just goes to show anything can happen and it’s still a good result for the Team!

Christian Horner – Team Principal

What a roller coaster! I think we have been through every single emotion today. To be within five laps of achieving our first 1-2 since 2016 to then lose Max from the lead of the race with a puncture that is so far unexplained was pretty heart-breaking. The race was then red-flagged and we had serious concerns that Sergio was losing hydraulic pressure and there were no guarantees he would make it to the finish.

Thankfully Sergio got the job done and Lewis’s mistake into Turn 1 at the restart means we come out of the weekend having extended our lead in the Constructors’ Championship with Max maintaining his lead in the Drivers’ and Checo now moving into third place. Although it was frustrating for Max, we are delighted for Checo to take his first win for the Team today. He has been extremely fast all weekend and it was a great boost for the Team to see him on the top step of the podium. It was also great to see Pierre up there on the podium after a strong weekend but today we would like to dedicate this win to Mansour Ojjeh who was unfortunately lost from the McLaren family and our sport. He was inspirational and someone I was fortunate enough to call a friend.

Congratulations and a big thank-you must also go to all our partners, especially Mobil 1 who provided us with upgraded engine oil for this weekend, which just shows how hard all areas of our Team are pushing in this championship fight.

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