Verstappen 2nd As Perez Proves He Is A Contender
THE BAKU GRAND PRIX: SUNDAY 30TH APRIL 2023
- 1. Sergio Perez
- 2. Max Verstappen
- 3. Charles Leclerc
- 4. Fernando Alonso
- 5. Carlos Sainz Jr
- 6. Lewis Hamilton
- 7. Lance Stroll
- 8. George Russell
- 9. Lando Norris
- 10. Yuki Tsunoda
""Once I was in Max's DRS, it made my race. It was time to overtake him, but he pitted and then we got the safety car and I got a bit lucky there." (Sergio Perez)
Red Bull One and Two in Baku
In Sergio Perez's view, at least, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix victory proved that he is a legitimate challenger to Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen for the world championship this season.
Even his team principal, based on Christian Horner's comments thereafter, does not share the Mexican's conviction, but Perez undoubtedly left his mark on Baku's streets.
After handling all the two-time champion could throw at him and taking command of the race through the streets of this Caspian Sea coast city, Perez said, "It's a long year ahead", "We are in the fight."
Perez gave an incredibly polished performance. Possibly the best of his six Formula 1 victories, even though he was hesitant to admit it.
Perez did "get a little bit lucky with the safety car," as Horner put it, but once in the lead, he was in complete control of the race. Verstappen had no response for him throughout a tight grand race in which both drivers were pushing themselves to the edge.
With this triumph by Perez and his victory in Saudi Arabia two races prior, the Red Bull drivers have are now tied with two times each this season.
Verstappen's six-point advantage is completely attributable to Perez's tough qualifying session at the most recent race in Australia, where mechanical difficulties forced him to start farther back on the grid and necessitated a return drive. Perez repeatedly stressed during the course of the weekend that he and the club needed to steer clear of weekends like that.
Perez and his team made no mistakes this time, and he departed Azerbaijan for the 15-hour flight to Miami for the race the following weekend with two victories already under his belt (one in the shorter "sprint" on Saturday and another in the grand prix), making it an almost flawless weekend.
And while it is accurate to state that Perez was given the lead by the placement of the safety car, to claim he was lucky with his victory would be wrong.