Formula 1 Racing

Perez passes Leclerc for sprint race win, Verstappen third in damaged car · RaceFans

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Baku City Circuit, 2023

Sergio Perez Perez took victory in the sprint race for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after overtaking Charles Leclerc mid-way through the race and pulling away from the Ferrari driver.

The Red Bull driver used DRS to pass Leclerc for the lead along the pit straight and then gradually opened up the gap to win by four seconds. Leclerc held off Max Verstappen for second place after the Red Bull driver suffered damaged from opening lap contact with George Russell.

Leclerc lined up on pole position for the first sprint race of the season and when the lights went out the Ferrari leapt out into the lead of the race with Perez settling into second place behind. Verstappen came under pressure from George Russell behind with the Mercedes driver pulling ahead of the Red Bull on the run to turn three.

Back in the pack, Yuki Tsunoda struck the barrier at the kink of turn 13, losing the tyre from his wheel. As the AlphaTauri recovered to the pits with damage, the Virtual Safety Car was deployed with the remains of Tsunoda’s tyre on the circuit on the entrance of turn 16. Tsunoda pitted and rejoined with his car still clearly damaged from his collision with the wall, earning an investigation from the stewards after the race for being released in an unsafe condition.

With drivers complaining of debris on the track, the Virtual Safety Car was upgraded to a full Safety Car. The race restarted at the end of lap five, with Leclerc leading the field away from Perez, Russell and Verstappen. Russell was easily passed by Verstappen at the restart, the Red Bull diving to the inside into the first corner to move back into third.

At the end of the first green flag lap, DRS was enabled for the first time in the race. Perez quickly began to put Leclerc under pressure out front and managed to slip by the Ferrari into the lead at the start of lap eight, before soon pulling clear of DRS range of the chasing Ferrari.

Leclerc kept Perez’s lead to around a second until the leader began picking up the pace with around five laps remaining, building up his advantage to over three seconds. Verstappen pursued the Ferrari ahead of him, but despite sitting within a second of Leclerc he never got close enough to attempt a pass.

Perez continued to eke out his advantage and ticked off the remaining laps to secure the victory by just over four seconds at the chequered flag. Leclerc finished six tenths of a second ahead of Verstappen…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at RaceFans…