Verstappen crashes out while leading as Red Bull teammate Perez wins Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Verstappen crashes out while leading as Red Bull teammate Perez wins Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Sergio Perez claimed his first victory as a Red Bull driver after teammate Max Verstappen crashed out with just four laps remaining of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Red Bull were set for a one-two finish that would have put Verstappen in control of the drivers’ championship, but the Dutchman suffered a dramatic left-rear tyre failure late on amid concerns over the Pirelli tyres.

A similar tyre failure involving Lance Stroll earlier in the race raised questions over the tyre compounds, which were softened for the Baku City Circuit, with the session stopped after Verstappen’s crash.

Verstappen’s DNF looked set to hand Lewis Hamilton control of the drivers’ championship, but the reigning world champion went on at Turn 1 after the restart, conceding any points that would have moved him top of the standings.

Charles Leclerc started on pole, but his lead lasted only three laps as Hamilton passed the Ferrari before the two Red Bulls Verstappen and Perez also overtook the pole sitter who didn’t have the pace to maintain track position.

The first pivotal moment of the race came after 13 laps when Hamilton suffered a slow pit stop which allowed Verstappen, with a sub-two second pit stop, to complete the overcut and take first place.

Perez also benefited from Hamilton’s slow pit stop to take second place which put Red Bull in complete control of the race, with the Mexican offering Verstappen some protection from the reigning world champion.

However, the dynamic of the race shifted when a Safety Car was deployed after a puncture saw Lance Stroll crash on the start/finish straight. Sebastian Vettel was the beneficiary of this as he moved up to fourth on the restart.

Hamilton found some renewed pace after the Safety Car, but didn’t appear to have enough to catch Perez as Red Bull closed in on a one-two finish. Everything changed, though, when Verstappen crashed on the pit straight on lap 47.

This incident resulted in red flags due to the amount of debris on the track before Hamilton made the costly error into Turn 1 after the restart, with Perez taking the chequered flag ahead of Vettel in second and Pierre Gasly in third.