Red Bull’s victory in Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix is the only thing in doubt after 10 rounds. But even that is no contest in the end.
Sergio Perez outpaced both the field and his team-mate Max Verstappen to win in Baku on Sunday. The victory was Perez’s second of the season – Verdstappen has won the other two events – and marked the third time in four races that Red Bull’s cars have passed first and second.
The results left little doubt about Red Bull’s advantage over every other team in Formula 1 this season, having been faster in practice, qualifying and on Sundays. But it set the stage for a long, hot summer of racing between the two Red Bull drivers; Perez is now just six points behind Verstappen in the season standings.
“Well guys, we dominated this weekend,” Perez told his team on the radio after his win. “We are in the struggle.”
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc took the consolation prize by beating Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso to third, Leclerc’s first podium finish of the year. But both were well beaten by Red Bull. Again.
For the second consecutive race, Formula 1 avoided tragedy as people hit the track before the end of the race.
In Australia, fans trespassed by slipping through gaps in fences to gain access to the track while the cars were still running at full speed.
On Sunday, fear came in the pit lane, where photographers, crew members and safety officials who had come out of the garage to watch Perez and Verstappen cross the finish line were sent crashing through Alpine’s Esteban Ocon as he attempted to pit on the final lap.
Organizers of the Australian Grand Prix have launched an investigation after track trespassing in Melbourne, which one man admitted to “It could have been terrible.” But they seemed to be the fault of the fans.
Formula 1 will do the same in Sunday’s incident, where those on track are accredited photographers – often entered on track by organizers – and crew members are well aware of the dangers of the race.
Sunday’s Race in Photos
When the race returns
Almost instantly. Ferrari’s Leclerc started from pole position but admitted he could not hold the lead for long. He was right.
Verstappen passed him on lap 4. Perez overtook Leclerc three laps later. At that point, the only question was which Red Bull would win. The early appearance of the safety car – after a Verstappen pit – allowed Perez to flip their order and take the lead, and the race was never close after that.
What they say
Perez, 1-2 finish with Red Bull: “We pushed to the max today. We both hit the wall a few times. We pushed out there. Max pushed me really hard, but we managed to keep him in check.
Leclerc chases Perez and Verstappen every week: “Honestly, the feeling is a little better, but when I look at the gap, we still have a lot of work to do.”
Verstappen, consistently the unhappiest runner-up in the world: “You keep learning. It can’t be perfect all the time. “
Season in Review
March 5: Bahrain Grand Prix. Success: Max Verstappen
March 19: Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Success: Sergio Perez
April 2: Australian Grand Prix. Success: Max Verstappen
April 30: Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Success: Sergio Perez
May 7: Formula 1 takes the first of three stops in the United States at the Miami Grand Prix Miami International Autodrome.