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Max Verstappen rode his luck to an unchallenged first Baku win on Sunday, opening up a commanding championship lead after Ferrari’s challenge imploded at the Azerbaijan Formula One Grand Prix.
The Dutchman eased across the line 20.8 seconds clear of Sergio Perez who, ordered not to fight Verstappen, completed a one-two for Red Bull. George Russell kept his record of finishing every race this season in the top five with third for Mercedes.
Ferrari’s miserable afternoon ended after 20 of the race’s 51 laps. Charles Leclerc, who is leading the team’s challenge and had started from pole, pulled into the pits from the lead with his Ferrari spewing smoke to chalk up his second retirement from three races. His team-mate Carlos Sainz had pulled to the side of the track 10 laps earlier with a hydraulic failure.
“Today we had incredible pace in the car, we could look after the tyres and chip away at it,” said Verstappen, all too familiar with the heartbreak of retiring from the lead, having crashed out while running first in Baku last year. A tiny bit lucky with the retirement but the car was quick today.”
The win was Verstappen’s fifth from eight races this year and made him the sixth different Baku winner from six races. He extended his overall championship lead to 21 points over Perez, winner in Monaco two weeks ago, who has moved up to second.
Leclerc, who has won two races this year but none since the third of the season in Australia, slipped to third, 34 points adrift of his Dutch rival. “It hurts, we need to look into it so it doesn’t happen again,” said Leclerc who left Australia with a 46-point lead over Verstappen.
Express Sport rounds up all the latest news from the world of Formula One.
Daniel Ricciardo has backed up George Russell as the pair address the safety issues around F1’s bouncing issues.
The McLaren star said he felt ‘rattled’ after leaving the car and compared his helmet to a basketball.
He said: “I know George has been vocal about it, it’s not sustainable and I genuinely feel rattled. I don’t know, it’s not good, it’s definitely not good.
“Hopefully we can figure it out. When I say not good I mean just for honestly our general health and wellbeing.”
Lewis Hamilton has admitted he had a private converstaion with FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
It comes just weeks after Ben Sulayem criticised Hamilton for campiagning on human rights issues.
After the race, the seven-time champion said: “I don’t really remember that far back really. I think he said, ‘Just don’t lose hope.’ I think that’s what he was saying, ‘Don’t give up.’ Or something like that.”
Toto Wolff apologised to Lewis Hamilton moments after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
The Mercedes team principal said: “This is a bit of a **** box to drive, and sorry for the back problems.”
Hamilton responded: “And well done on the strategy. Thank you on continuing to push, but make some changes, okay? Please. Let’s keep pushing.”
Max Verstappen claimed the F1 championship can ‘change very quickly’ despite Charles Leclerc’s retirement.
Verstappen has suffered two retirements himself this season and his title chances looked finished after Australia.
However, his latest win now puts him a commanding 34 points ahead of the Ferrari man.
Despite this, the Dutchman is not getting carried away.
He said: “I think every weekend is a bit different, you really have to be precise and on it for the little things for the race management as well. It can swing around every race weekend.”
Charles Leclerc has demanded Ferrari look into what caused a double DNF in Baku to ensure ‘it does not happen again’.
The Ferrari man was forced to retire on lap 20 as he car went up in a plume of smoke. It came shortly after team-mate Carlos Sainz also stopped.
He told Sky Sports F1: “It hurts. We really have to look into that so it does not happen again.
“I don’t really find the right words to describe it. It’s very, very disappointing. I don’t know. We really need to look into it.”
Lewis Hamilton has claimed he was ‘praying’ for the race to end as he continued to suffer from back pain.
The Mercedes star has complained of bouncing all weekend but still managed to secure fourth.
He said: “[I was] just biting down on my teeth through pain.I can’t express the pain you experience, particularly on the straight. At the end you’re just praying for it to end.”
Max Verstappen has won the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after a dominant drive.
The Dutchamn was unchallenged after Leclerc’s retirement with Sergio Perez unable to get on terms with his team-mates pace.
More woes for Ferrari – both Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc have been forced to retire with problems in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
It means Red Bull will add to their advantages in both the Drivers’ Championship, led by Max Verstappen, and the Constructors’ Championship.
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Toto Wolff has warned the time has come to admit Mercedes bouncing issues are ‘really bad’.
It comes after Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have complained of suffering from back pain all weekend in Baku.
He said: “I think that most of the drivers have now come to the conclusion that it’s really bad.
“The regulations will follow for many years. It’s the moment now to say that is a real issue and what can we do to lift everybody up.”
You can follow live lap-by-lap coverage of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on our new live blog here.
The national anthem has justy been completed and we are now just over ten minutes from the start.
The drivers are heading to the grid with just half an hour to go until the start of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Charles Leclerc will start on pole from Sergio Perez with Max Verstappen right behind in third.
Lewis Hamilton has agreed with Max Verstappen over rumours F1 could introduce a salary cap on drivers pay.
Verstappen warned any new system could affect younger drivers coming through the system.
Hamilton also agreed with this, adding: “There are many of us here who were heavily invested in as youngsters and have had to pay that back, which you would naturally want to do anyway.
“And so that, for sure, could have an impact on the future for the younger generation.”
Toto Wolff has defended Lewis Hamilton after George Russell edged him out in qualifying.
The Mercedes boss claimed Hamilton’s bad run was down to a series of failed experiments which Russell has not had to deal with.
He said: “If you put a foot wrong, in terms of experiments on the car – which need to be done in order for us to learn how to perform and where to put the car – there is 0.2-0.3secs immediately between them.”And the last three races these experiments have gone wrong with Lewis and not with George.”
Damon Hill has warned Ferrari appear ‘all at sea’ in their tltle battle with Red Bull in what could be a blow to Charles Leclerc.
The 1996 champion said:”There is an element to Ferrari, they were kind of in a holding-pack last year, preparing themselves for this season.
“Now they are here, they are kind of looking a little bit all at sea and not used to running at the front.”
Lewis Hamilton has claimed his back is a ‘real mess’ as Mercedes battle bouncing issues at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
The Mercedes star said he was a ‘bit sore’ on Friday but this appears to have gotten worse on Saturday.
Toto Wolff has warned Mercedes are hoping Ferrari and Red Bull crash to stand any chance of securing victory.
George Russell was around a second slower than Carlos Sainz in qualifying yesterday as the Silver Arrows struggle to compete.
He said: “If you look at it through rose-tinted glasses you can say hopefully four of them crash out in Turn One and then you can win the race. On pure pace, it’s realistic to finish fifth and sixth.”
Max Verstappen has warned Red Bull’s long run pace could be good enough to challenge for the race win on Sunday.
After qualifying, he claimed the team lacked one lap pace but stressed over the long run they should be ‘quite good’
He said: “Not of course what I want but still as a team, being second and third, we have a good opportunity for tomorrow.
“We’ll find out tomorrow but I think overall we seem to lack a tiny bit over one lap but clearly in the long runs normally our car should be quite good.”
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