Perez wins sprint at Azerbaijan GP
Sports Desk, Apr 29 (EFE).- Mexico’s Sergio “Checo” Perez (Red Bull) overtook pole sitter Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) to win Saturday’s 17-lap sprint at the Formula One Grand Prix of Azerbaijan, the fourth round of the 2023 campaign.
The driver from Monaco had to settle for second, ahead of Checo’s teammate, reigning two-time F1 champion Max Verstappen, who withstood a challenge from Briton George Russell (Mercedes).
Spaniards Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) and double champion Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) claimed the fifth and sixth spots, respectively.
British seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) and Canadian Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) snagged the last two points places in the first of a planned six sprints in the 2023 season.
Leclerc and Perez, who started the sprint in P2, held on to their places in Turn 1, but Russell pulled ahead of Verstappen into third after a scrap that saw the Dutchman’s car bump the wall.
Japan’s Yuki Tsunoda hit the wall on Turn 13 and lost a tire, forcing a Virtual Safety Car on the Baku City Circuit.
Normal racing resumed at the end of Lap 5 and Verstappen reclaimed third from Russell while Alonso got past Hamilton into sixth.
Perez steadily gained ground on Leclerc and got within DRS range in Lap 7 before executing a straightforward overtake. The Mexican took the checkered flag nearly 5 seconds ahead of the Monegasque, who defended well against Verstappen.
In the sprint, only the top eight drivers get points, ranging from 8 for the winner to 1 for P8.
After Saturday’s result, Verstappen leads the driver standings with 75 points, followed by Perez (62), Alonso (48), and Hamilton (40).
Leclerc, who was unable to finish two of the first three races of the season, is 8th with 13 points, but as pole-sitter for Sunday’s race, he will have the chance to vault into the title race.
Red Bull have dominated so far, with Verstappen winning in Bahrain and Australia and Perez claiming the honors in Saudi Arabia.