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Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix Review

I wouldn’t label the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as a snore fest, but it came close.

Sergio 'Checo' Perez

I wouldn’t label the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as a snore fest, but it came close. Sergio Perez reignited his title bid by winning the sprint race and GP to pull within six points of Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen.

The new sprint race format kicked off in Baku. What became apparent was the drivers found it challenging to perfect a setup for the weekend after a solitary practice session.

Fans also bemoaned the switching of the GP qualifying session to Friday from its traditional Saturday slot. Many voiced their frustration of being at work while the action unfolded.

Speaking of action, the sprint qualifying session (on Saturday) indicated how committed the drivers were to give themselves the best chance of grabbing the extra points on offer.

Ferrari’s resurgence came in the form of Charles Leclerc who snapped pole position for the sprint. However, the Monegasque driver lost out in the race as Perez unlocked the RB19’s rapid top-end speed.

The reigning champion’s sprint race was eventful as he had a good duel with Mercedes’ George Russell. The British driver held the inside line into a corner and with Max’s full commitment, the duo came together resulting in damage to Verstappen’s side pod.

The Red Bull driver saw red and couldn’t understand why Russell hadn’t been penalised by the stewards. Verstappen would eventually pass the Mercedes, but his race was handicapped by the incident and he could only muster third place behind Leclerc. 

If I had to pick a winner from this weekend’s Azerbaijan GP, it’s an easy pick: Sergio Perez.

The Mexican claimed the sprint race win after passing Leclerc. He rode his luck after the safety car period to emerge as the king of Baku’s streets.

However, I noted that overall Perez’s pace was superior to that of Verstappen. He seems capable of threading the RB19 through street circuits better than Max.

The 33-year-old then followed his sprint race win with a dominant win on Sunday. It was his sixth GP victory, incidentally, they’ve all but one has been on street circuits.

The Azerbaijan weekend was important to Perez who outscored teammate and world championship leader Verstappen by nine points.

He showed nous to keep Verstappen at bay and steer clear of any incidents during both races. The double win will give him great confidence heading to Miami this weekend, which is another street circuit.

According to‘s odds, Perez is the second favourite at 5.25 to win the championship. Those are pretty good odds, although 19 races are remaining in the season.

What will raise Red Bull’s eyebrows is the strong performance by Ferrari. Leclerc’s pace over one lap is rapid and he drove brilliantly to start on pole in both races.

However, Red Bull came back hard in the race as their superior straight-line speed obliterated any chance of the first Ferrari win of 2023.

Leclerc’s dreadful start to the season was punctuated by two DNFs in the first three races. This weekend’s performance of a second in the sprint and third place in the GP is a huge confidence booster.

The second race of the double-header takes place in Miami, Florida this weekend with the glitz and glam expected at the coastal city.

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