What the teams said – Race day in Azerbaijan
There were very different emotions on the two sides of the Red Bull garage in Baku. Both drivers were having storming races – Verstappen passing Leclerc on track before pipping Hamilton through the pit stops to take the lead, while Perez fought his way up from sixth to second with a string of fast laps. But then it all went wrong for the Dutchman, an apparent tyre failure pitching him into the wall and out of the race. Perez inherited the lead at that stage but had to contend with a hydraulic issue and a full standing restart, along with two flying laps at the end in order to win his first race with Red Bull.
READ MORE: ‘Sometimes you can hate this sport’ – Verstappen frustrated to miss out on 'easy win' and chance to extend points lead
Sergio Perez, 1st
“We love Baku! It feels amazing to get my first win with Red Bull. The Team did a tremendous job and I want to thank Mr Mateschitz for this great opportunity and giving me the seat. I feel very sorry for Max because he deserved the win and a 1-2 for the Team would’ve been very enjoyable. It was a crazy rollercoaster of a race, we were basically flat out from the very first lap and I had Lewis behind pushing me so I couldn’t breathe, it was very challenging but we kept our focus. Everything worked perfectly today apart from the restart at the end where I just had no grip. I thought I cannot lose this race two laps from the flag so I broke as late as I could into Turn 1 and then I saw Lewis locking up and go straight on into the run off. It just shows how on the limit we are, the speeds we are doing are tremendous and I am sorry for Lewis because it’s very painful when these things happen but we are all vulnerable to mistakes. We have to enjoy today, our pace was great and we have a very good race car. We are working flat out and giving our best every week, it’s only race six and there’s more to come from me, the relationship with Max and the Team is great and there’s still a long way to go in this championship.”
Max Verstappen, DNF
“To retire from the lead of the race so close to the finish is pretty frustrating. I didn’t feel anything strange with the car and then suddenly the left rear went and I was in the wall quite hard. It’s not a nice place to crash and we don’t know the exact cause yet, I’m sure it will be fully investigated. Up until that point it was a great day, the car felt perfect and I was comfortable in the lead so it felt like it would be an easy 1-2 but there are no guarantees in this sport. Of course I am frustrated from my side not to win but I was very happy to see Checo up there. He did everything that the Team could have wanted today. He had a great start and then we both got past Lewis in the pits. I heard he had to defend for most of the race, so if I couldn’t win, I’m glad he could. He’s a great guy and a great teammate so it was good to see him smiling on the podium and having his first win for Red Bull. It’s a shame that we missed out on the opportunity to make the gap bigger to Lewis today in the championship as we know when we get back to the normal tracks Mercedes will be very strong again but it just goes to show anything can happen and it’s still a good result for the Team!”
Christian Horner, Team Principal
“What a rollercoaster! I think we have been through every single emotion today. To be within five laps of achieving our first 1-2 since 2016 to then lose Max from the lead of the race with a puncture that is so far unexplained was pretty heart breaking. The race was then red flagged and we had serious concerns that Sergio was losing hydraulic pressure and there were no guarantees he would make it to the finish. Thankfully Sergio got the job done and Lewis’ mistake into Turn 1 at the restart means we come out of the weekend having extended our lead in the Constructors’ Championship with Max maintaining his lead in the Drivers’ and Checo now moving into third place. Although it was frustrating for Max, we are delighted for Checo to take his first win for the Team today. He has been extremely fast all weekend and it was a great boost for the Team to see him on the top step of the podium. It was also great to see Pierre on up there on the podium after a strong weekend but today we would like to dedicate this win to Mansour Ojjeh who was unfortunately lost from the McLaren family and our sport, he was inspirational and someone I was fortunate enough to call a friend. Congratulations and a big thank you must also go to all our partners, especially Mobil 1 who provided us with an upgraded engine oil for this weekend which just shows how hard all areas of our Team are pushing in this championship fight.”
When Hamilton passed Leclerc for the lead of the race after a handful of laps, it was all looking so good. Even though he got jumped in the pit stop period by both Red Bulls, third was still a very decent result considering the team’s form earlier this weekend. Then Hamilton inherited second after Verstappen retired and all of a sudden, could see a championship lead beckoning. But it all went wrong for the reigning world champion at the restart, a switch issue sending him straight on at Turn 1 to drop to the back of the field. As for Bottas, he never really got going this weekend and struggled to extract any pace from the W12 today, as he too came home outside the points.
Lewis Hamilton, 15th
"An unfortunate day, a humbling experience and I'm so sorry for the team. We did a good job to be in the position we were in today, to be out of the top ten on Friday and come back was down to the hard work of the men and women in this team. When Checo came towards me after the restart, I turned the wheel and flicked a switch which shifts the brake balance and that caused me to lock up.
"It's one of the toughest moments I've had for a while - one moment we had all the points and the next we had none but for sure, we'll regroup and come back."
Valtteri Bottas, 12th
"Today in the race I was lacking pace, as I have been all weekend and it's difficult to understand why. One big issue is the tyre warm-up, particularly the front tyres. On the hard tyres, it took almost10 laps to warm up and on the restart, we were on the back foot with cold tyres. I was trying everything I could but something just wasn't right with the car for me this weekend. We need to work hard to figure out why and move on quickly from this."
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"In Monaco and here we didn't have a car that was competitive, full stop. We have underlying issues - we are not getting the car in a happy window for the tyres. We know the deficit and we know we have gaps which we simply have to overcome but I have no doubt, this a team which is so strong and so angry, and we are going to turn that anger into positive form and come back."
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
"An extremely disappointing end to the weekend but that's just how luck pans out sometimes; Max's misfortune put us in that position in the first place. The bigger issue that we have to deal with is that in the last two races we haven't been good enough. Not fast enough, we've made mistakes, we struggle to switch the tyres on and we've been on the back-foot through free practice. We know the level it takes to win championships and we're not at that level right now so we need to re-group and come back performing the way we know that we can. We have the team, the car and the drivers to win this but we need to be tough and honest with ourselves over the next few days. We've had days like this before and each time we've come back strong and we'll look do that in France."
Aston Martin started Vettel on the soft rubber and Stroll on the hard compound, and were the last team to pit. Vettel overcut the field to leap up to seventh, before embarking on a series of overtakes at the Safety Car restart that netted him fourth. Add in Verstappen and Hamilton’s issues, and he took a very well deserved podium from 11th on the grid. As for Stroll, he was looking good to make it into the points as well before an apparent tyre failure sent him into the barriers and out of the race.
Sebastian Vettel, 2nd
“I am over the moon and P2 means a great deal to all of us. We did not expect to be on the podium, but we made great progress through the weekend, and the car had strong race pace. Yesterday was challenging [due to the red flag in qualifying], but I was relaxed and confident going into the race. The key was being able to start with a free choice of tyres in P11. It meant we could use a new set of softs to make up two places at the start and then run longer to overcut Yuki [Tsunoda]. It gave us a platform for the second half of the race and put us in a position to take advantage. I felt good in the car, and combined with on-track events and strategy, we were able to get a really special result.”
Lance Stroll, DNF
“I am frustrated not to finish the race, but I am okay. We were on course to score good points by running much longer before the pit stops and overcutting a lot of cars. That proved it was the right call to start on the hard tyres because we had good pace throughout the first stint and the race was coming to us. I am not sure what happened to cause me to spin on the straight because there was no sign of any issues, so we need to investigate. It has been a challenging weekend for me, but there are positives to take, especially our race pace, and, of course, the podium for Sebastian. Huge congratulations to the whole team.”
Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal & CEO
“Lance suffered a DNF through no fault of his own, having made very impressive progress in the early laps. He was soon running in the points, making the overcut strategy work well, and was driving superbly on hard tyres when it all came to an end for him in a spectacular way on lap 31. We are investigating the cause of the accident, together with Pirelli.
"Sebastian also drove extremely well, making up two places on Lap 1, running a long stint on soft tyres and thereby jumping [Yuki] Tsunoda during the pit stops, and holding seventh place at the halfway point. Then, when Lance was very sadly eliminated, Sebastian moved up to sixth. He then nailed the Safety Car restart, duly passing Charles [Leclerc] for fifth, following that by a great move on Pierre [Gasly] to take fourth. When Max [Verstappen] retired, that became third, then second when Lewis [Hamilton] overshot Turn One from the second standing start: a brilliant result for everyone in our team and the first ever podium for Aston Martin in World Championship Formula One history.
"In summary, then, both Lance and Sebastian showed today that we have the race pace to compete at the very front of the midfield, or better, and that is what both of them will be aiming to do as the rest of the season unfolds.”
Gasly has been knocking on the podium door all season and finally barged through it in Baku. He was there or thereabouts all race, managing to jump Leclerc in the pit stops and running a tidy fifth for much of the afternoon. That became fourth when Verstappen crashed, and third when Hamilton ran wide. But he had to work for it, with Leclerc getting back past at the restart which Gasly was having none of as he immediately fought back. As for Tsunoda, he too had a great race to score his first points since Bahrain, even if he did let a place slip to old nemesis Alonso on the penultimate lap.
Pierre Gasly, 3rd
“What an incredible weekend, topping FP3, then P4 in Qualifying and now a podium today – I’m so happy for the guys, it was a great result! What a way to do it as well, the last two laps were so intense with Charles and I really had to fight hard to get that podium. The entire race was really full-on, we managed to keep up with the guys ahead but from the middle of the race we had an engine issue and we started to lose some power in the straight, so I knew it was going to be hard until the end, but we managed to hold on to P4. After the restart I thought that Charles would pass me on the straight because we had lost performance, but I saw the podium ahead of me and I tried everything, I just wanted it so badly. It was hard but fair racing, just as we like it. The car was incredible all weekend, it felt really good, and it’s just a fantastic result for the whole team. I’m really pleased to reward them with a podium. Moving forward to France, we need to analyse what went well this weekend and see how we can use these learnings at the next race. It’s my home race so I really want to do well there but for now it’s time to celebrate – I’ve already had a Red Bull, but I think we’ll be having something else tonight too!”
Yuki Tsunoda, 7th
“I’m a bit frustrated by the final result today, as I think the pace in the car has been strong this weekend. The start of the race was ok for me and until the red flag I think my performance was really good. Unfortunately, I dropped two positions during the last laps, I’m not sure I could have done anything differently but I’ll analyse everything tonight so I can understand this better moving forward. P7 still means important points for the team though. I want to say congratulations to Pierre for the podium today, the team really deserve it and it’s a great result.”
Franz Tost, Team Principal
“It was a sensational race from the very beginning. I want to say congratulations to Red Bull Racing, Honda and Perez today, it was a fantastic victory. Unfortunately, Max who was leading and was in my opinion the fastest man on the track, lost it at the very last minute of a great race from his side. However, the important thing is that he still leads the Championship. As for us, we started with Pierre in fourth position, which was already a great starting place, and Yuki wasn’t far behind in seventh. Both drivers had a good start and Pierre defended P4 for a long period, even whilst managing a small PU issue, but unfortunately lost time behind Stroll and that allowed Vettel to catch-up and overtake Pierre after the pitstop. At the restart, we changed from the Hards to the Softs and Pierre completed a really good manoeuvre against Leclerc to put himself into third position. It’s an unbelievable result and both the team and Pierre deserve it, as we were very competitive here from FP1 onwards. Yuki started from P7 and only lost one place to Alonso on the first lap but managed to regain the position later. After the red flag, Yuki started from sixth position but lost two places during those last few laps. Nonetheless, he finished in a fantastic seventh place and the team scored some great points this weekend, meaning we’re now fifth in the Constructors’ Championship. The guys did a really good job today on all sides, from the pitstops to the strategy, and they deserve this result. Congratulations to the whole Scuderia AlphaTauri team and I hope we can continue this performance in the upcoming races.”
Leclerc made a great getaway from pole, but didn’t have the pace to stick with the Red Bulls and Hamilton’s Mercedes today. An early pit stop cost him another couple of places, which he nearly made back with a spirited showing at the restart, pushing Gasly all the way to the final podium spot. As for Sainz, he was solidly in the points before running down an escape road and losing a handful of places after his pit stop. He did well to fight back into the top 10 in what turned into a recovery drive from as low as 15th at one stage.
Charles Leclerc, 4th
"Before arriving in Baku, P4 was more or less where we could expect to finish the race. The first surprise of the weekend was our pole position. A second surprise was that some of our competitors in the midfield were extremely quick today. Despite starting at the front, we knew we could well be overtaken by the cars of the two front running teams, which is what happened. After the first stop, I tried to do the best job possible. I had a lock up after the restart following the first safety car. Continuing with two flat spots was the most difficult part of the race. I really thought I wouldn’t make it to the end. Then we had the red flag, and I thought about the podium. But unfortunately, we didn’t’ make it. Seb did an incredible job – congratulations to him. The same goes for Pierre, it was a hard fight with him at the end! We will keep working and pushing in the right direction."
Carlos Sainz, 8th
"Not the race I was hoping for today. I didn’t have the same feeling with the car that I had had all weekend. Every time I was on cold tyres - at both starts, at the restart and after the pit stop - I struggled a lot with front locking and with the brakes. That led to a costly mistake which compromised my whole race. In the end, I managed to get back in the points but I’m not happy with the result. We need to understand the reasons behind those issues and try to improve for the upcoming races. We’ve got some time now to go to Maranello and work on it, so I’m sure we’ll come back stronger in France."
Mattia Binotto, Team Principal
"It was a difficult race that didn’t live up to our expectations, given how qualifying went yesterday. We know that, in order to reach our goals, we not only have to improve our car, we must also do everything perfectly in every area and that wasn’t the case today. On the plus side this weekend, we took our second pole position of the season and we have moved up to third in the Constructors’ classification. The gap to those behind is small and definitely smaller than it could have been. However, we have to move on from this and see it as further motivation to improve in every aspect of our work."
A case of what might have been. Starting ninth and 13th, both drivers got stuck in from the off. Norris went for a very early pit stop in an effort to undercut his rivals, which catapulted him up the order. The late red flags certainly helped the youngster hold on to that position as he was allowed to change his tyres, which had been vibrating heavily. As for Ricciardo, he managed some on-track overtakes but, on a day where the midfield took two podium spots, McLaren found themselves too far back to capitalise on those opportunities.
Daniel Ricciardo, 9th
“There were moments today in the race where I was thinking ‘I hope it becomes a bit more exciting’ and suddenly it did!
“We had some positive moments, but also a few difficult periods. I flat-spotted the hard a bit, so that became tricky for the last few laps before the red flag, but not too bad beforehand. The last start, I felt like I got a good launch, and had a good run on the outside but there wasn’t really much room with a couple of cars on the inside. It just all bottlenecked into Turn 2 and I felt a hit from behind. I couldn’t really do much, but we’ll keep working on our plan and keep moving forward.
"I also just want to pay tribute to Mansour and send my condolences to Kathy and his entire family. He made a massive contribution to both McLaren and the entire sport, and he will be greatly missed."
Lando Norris, 5th
“Happy with the end result today, fifth was the best we could do. It was a long race with it being difficult to overtake in the middle. There were a few crashes here and there that allowed us to gain a few places, and then two overtakes on the final restart was great. I think it was a good recovery from where we were at the beginning of the race after a pretty poor Lap 1, just because I got unlucky. A decent amount of points for us as a team. Onto the next one!
“Finally, I want to pass my condolences on to Mansour Ojjeh’s family. This result was for him today.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal
“Our thoughts this evening are with Mansour Ojjeh’s family after the sad news of his passing. Today, we were racing in honour of our long-term friend, supporter and fellow racer.
“Regarding the race, from starting positions of P9 and P13, then P12 and P13 after the first lap, clearly the objective was to fight back, and not lose too much ground to our competitors in the constructors’ championship. In those terms, to leave Baku with finishing positions of P5 and P9 is something we’ll take very happily. We were able to keep our cool through a difficult race packed with incidents, where we waited for opportunities and made decisive moves to finish with decent positions. Thanks today to the drivers, the trackside team, support from the MTC, and our colleagues at Mercedes HPP, all of whom contributed to a good recovery.
“We’re going home now to reset and analyse this race weekend. The clear objective going forward to France and beyond is to qualify higher up the grid and, in doing so, make our Sundays a little easier. We’ll be pushing again at Paul Ricard to keep up the fight in the constructors’ championship.”
A mixed bag for Alpine, with Ocon retiring after a handful of laps – the Frenchman complaining on the radio of a loss of power. That left Alonso to fly the flag and he was stuck in P11 for much of the race after duelling with his former team McLaren. But the Spaniard had the restart of the field on those final two frantic laps, managing to pass Ricciardo, Sainz and Tsunoda to come home a brilliant sixth.
Esteban Ocon, DNF
“I didn’t seem to catch a break here, it’s very tricky obviously and we had a pressure loss and had to retire the car very early on. We had a good start and I was in front of both McLarens and fighting with those around us. I was doing my race and it was going well and the pace was there for the top 10, which Fernando showed in the end. It was not our weekend, that’s clear, but we will turn the page and look forward to the next one, the French Grand Prix. It’s going to be an awesome one for me, I can’t wait to race there again.”
Fernando Alonso, 6th
“I am happy for the team that we took some good points from this weekend, I felt we deserved it after a challenging weekend. The final laps were a lot of fun and we tried to attack and be aggressive to recover some places. The weekend was quite solid for us but we did lack a little bit of pace during the race. So we need to review that but I am happy with the day in the end and we’ll look to take this forward into France.”
Marcin Budkowski, Executive Director
“The race didn’t start well with Esteban having to stop with a power unit problem and Fernando’s race pace was not competitive, for which we need to understand the reasons. Overall it wasn’t a great afternoon but we can be glad that the two drivers who had issues were fine and it did give us some exciting action after the restart. The heart-warming positive was some Fernando magic to regain four positions and finish P6, which is a great reward for everyone’s hard work. He’s back in a very competitive state and we now need to work together to get back on form at the next race in France.”
The Alfa pair ran out of the points for much of the race, with Giovinazzi going for a very optimistic early stop after just a couple of laps. But in a race of attrition, they kept it clean and both climbed back through the order, Raikkonen pulling a fine move on fellow countryman Bottas at one point. The Finn wound up opening his tally for the season as he grabbed a well deserved point for P10 at the flag.
Kimi Raikkonen, 10th
“Not a lot happened in my race until the last two laps, so it’s good to bring home a point. Overtaking proved surprisingly difficult, we were able to catch up with the cars ahead of us relatively easily but we couldn’t make the move. The restart after the red flag was quite hectic, we could have been better but it could have also gone badly wrong so we’ll take the point. I don’t think we could have done more, in the end.”
Antonio Giovinazzi, 11th
“I had a great start and this allowed me to be back in the battle for the points from the start. It wasn’t an easy race as I had a small issue with the brakes, which is not ideal on a track like this, but my pace was quite good anyway. We made an early stop to undercut some of our rivals and after that, it was a bit quiet until the red flag. At the restart, I gained some positions on Turn 1 but I made contact with Ricciardo at the second corner and my car went into anti-stall. I think we got all we could out of this race, especially starting from last, and we ended up so close to the points. Many things happened today, it was quite a crazy race in the end, but we need to be happy as we got to score another point with Kimi, the second race in a row for our team.”
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal
“We can be happy with bringing a point home, especially as we displayed good pace with both cars from start to finish. We were starting in far from ideal positions, but everyone in the team did a good job to allow us to fight for points until the final laps: to finish in the top ten for the second race running is a reward for clean driving, a strategy that allowed both drivers to be in a fighting position and some good stops. At the restart, we had to play our cards smartly as everyone was going to take some risks, but in the end we managed to come away with a good point. We have once again shown the progress we have made and how we’re in the position to be fighting for top tens regularly, but there’s still work to be done. We are confident and the last few races have really encouraged us, so we can keep pushing towards our objective.”
Mazepin ran off once, which cost him plenty of time as he struggled for an answer to the pace of his team mate today. Although it wasn’t all plain sailing for Schumacher, who was released from the pits with a loose wheel nut. Luckily he was able to stop swiftly and be wheeled back by his quick-thinking crew, managing to avoid an unsafe release penalty.
Mick Schumacher, 13th
“I think it was difficult for everyone. Tyre degradation seemed higher out there than we expected. We came in for an extra pit stop to go on the C5 and it felt good but then the session was red flagged. It was definitely not easy but we were close to the points and these are the kind of races that we have to use to our advantage and stay in the race. We managed to do that, we were fighting and you see a little light at the end of the tunnel.”
Nikita Mazepin, 14th
“Well, the race itself was not bad. It was a bit annoying those as certain things made us fall backwards – but pace was there. We were experimenting with something as I had to manage the brakes from the beginning because they were overheating. I had to change my brake bias, and because of the change I was prone to locking. I almost drove into a wall which cost me a lot of time. The race was stop-start and then it came to life again. The main thing is I’m just a little bit upset about losing my position to my team mate on the main straight. It is what it is, but I think our finishing position is a nice number for the team, but obviously some unexpected situations happened with the other drivers which enabled us to get that position. Overall, it’s quite positive.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“Obviously it was an exciting race today, on one way or another, or even in all ways. In the end we had our best result of the year, which I’m very happy about for everybody. For where we are at the moment it’s very difficult to get this result. Everybody worked really hard and just due to that – it happened. Obviously, there was a situation on the straight, that was all resolved, and we’ve cleared the air. There was some misunderstanding, but we’re fine and all moving on from it.”
Not the best of days for Williams, who were trailing around towards the back of the field before seeing both drivers have contrasting issues in the latter stages of the race. Latifi was mistakenly told to stay out under the last Safety Car, meaning he drove down the track instead the pit lane, which earned him a 10-second time penalty. Then Russell pulled off down an escape road moments before the restart with his second mechanical issue of the weekend. One to forget today.
George Russell, DNF
"Unfortunately, we had a problem with the gearbox which forced me to retire before the race restart. I was just coming to the line and then I had no power, which is especially frustrating after so much anticipation building up before those final two laps. It wasn’t meant to be, and that’s racing sometimes. We’ll go away and analyse what happened.
"I was having a good race before that, the car felt fast and I had a lot of confidence in it so there are definitely positives to take away from the weekend."
Nicholas Latifi, 16th
"It was a fairly lonely race for me today. Before the red flag, we were committing to the one-stop strategy and I was doing what I needed to do managing the tyres. In the end the result wasn't to be, which is a shame as I felt I was driving really well throughout this weekend. On the operational side, there were a few things where we needed to be sharper so it's unfortunate."
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance
"Today was a busy race and we have a lot to go through over the coming week. Baku usually delivers a busy race and today was certainly one of those. In the end George was unable to take the race restart due to a suspected gearbox issue and an earlier communication error with Nicholas meant that he received a post-race time penalty.
"We tried a different strategy with George to get him some free air and an opportunity to pressure the cars ahead. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find enough pace on the Prime tyre to make much progress even though the car was working reasonably well. However, having stopped for new tyres at the first Safety Car, he was in a good position as those ahead began to struggle on their older tyres. Unfortunately, the second Safety Car and subsequent race suspension gave all cars a chance to fit fresh tyres for the final two lap sprint to the chequered flag."
Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing
"We need to clearly establish the facts behind the incidents involving Lance Stroll and Max Verstappen to fully understand what happened. What we can say for now is that there was also a cut found on Hamilton's tyre and that it's the rear-right tyre that actually works harder than the rear-left here. No warnings or vibrations were detected and none of the other tyres of a similar age or older showed any signs of excess wear. So we can not exclude that the damage was caused by an external factor, although these things shouldn't happen and we can understand the need for answers."
READ MORE: Azerbaijan GP Facts & Stats: Hamilton’s record 54-race points streak finally ends