Perez relieved his tyre ‘didn’t blow up’ en route to becoming first ever multiple Azerbaijan GP winner
Sergio Perez became the first ever driver to win multiple Azerbaijan Grands Prix, holding off team mate Max Verstappen to back up his Sprint victory from 24 hours previously. But according to Perez himself, he was lucky to make it to the race end...
Starting P3 on the grid, Perez followed Verstappen past pole-sitter Charles Leclerc early on in the race, before staying on the tail of Verstappen as the Red Bull pair flexed their muscles and gapped the Monegasque’s Ferrari.
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However, Perez was then a major beneficiary of a Safety Car brought out to recover the car of Nyck de Vries, Perez able to pit under the Safety Car, unlike Verstappen who’d boxed just before.
With Perez emerging from his stop in P1, the Mexican then drove an assured race to hold off Verstappen by 2.137s at the chequered flag, securing Red Bull’s third one-two of the season.
“It really worked out today for us,” said a delighted Perez after claiming his sixth career victory, and his second this year after Saudi Arabia. “We managed to stay in the DRS [range], and we managed to keep the pressure on Max. I think we had better [degradation] on that first stint.
“It was looking good already from that side, then the Safety Car came and bunched everyone up and it was again another race on the hard tyre.
“I think it was very close between us,” he added of his battle with Verstappen. “He pushed to the maximum today. We both clipped the wall a few times – we were pushing out there. The way Max pushed me throughout the race was really hard but we managed to keep him under control.”
As Perez mentioned, a brush with the barriers at the exit of Turn 15 on Lap 34 of 51 nearly cost him dear, with Perez admitting that he was lucky to get away with the incident.
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Asked how hard he’d hit the wall, Perez replied: “Really hard! I had a little bit of luck, especially with that front-right [tyre], that it didn’t blow up.”
Perez thus becomes the first ever driver to win multiple Grands Prix in Baku, after his 2021 victory. He also claimed 33 out of a possible 34 points across the weekend - including eight for his Sprint win – and he closes to within six points of Verstappen in the drivers’ championship, as he now prepares to head to Florida for next week’s Miami Grand Prix.