Verstappen dominates in Azerbaijan as Leclerc retires

“Once I was on the hard tyres and in the lead and I could just manage it and could control the gap”

By The Newsroom
Monday, 13th June 2022, 9:47 am
<p>Max Verstappen extended his championship lead on Sunday with a straight-forward win in Azerbaijan</p>

Max Verstappen extended his championship lead on Sunday with a straight-forward win in Azerbaijan

Max Verstappen cruised to one of the easiest wins of his career on Sunday as he tightened his stranglehold on the 2022 title race by winning the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after rival Charles Leclerc retired.

The Red Bull Racing man was running third after seeing team-mate Sergio Perez leapfrog the Ferrari driver at the start to lead the early stages, but claimed second when Leclerc stopped early for new tyres. Emerging back in third after the Tilbrook duo pitted for fresh rubber, Verstappen reinherited second when Leclerc’s Ferrari expired from the lead with engine failure - his second in three races while out in front.

Chasing down Perez, who retook the lead, Verstappen was given safe passage part his team-mate after the team told the Mexican ‘no fighting’ over the radio as they switch spots on track.

From there, Verstappen romped away to a comfortable victory over his team-mate, who takes over in second in the championship standings.

“Today we had incredible pace in the car, we could really look after the tyres and we could chip away for the lead,” said Verstappen. “Once I was on the hard tyres and in the lead and I could just manage it and could control the gap.

“It would have been good to have had a battle with Charles today but he had a DNF.

“To get a 1-2 for the team was really good, we’ve scored some good points today and made the gap bigger to Ferrari.

“There’s still a long way to go, it’s a long season so we need to keep pushing as a team.”

Max Verstappen thanks Sergio Perez for making his life easier by letting him past for the lead in Azerbaijan. Verstappen led home his team-mate in 1-2 for Red Bull Racing

Perez, who claimed the fastest lap bonus point and second spot added: “When you are leading the race for the first stint, which is normally the harder one, then you think you are looking strong but that wasn’t to be the case today and that is racing.

“I got some bad degradation on my rear tyres, which meant I couldn’t keep Max behind, he was extremely fast and it made sense for him to pass me rather than fight it.

“We were told to keep certain pace on the hards once both Ferraris were out of the race and we managed the rest of it well.

“We have to understand where we could have got more out of the car today and go forward to Canada and make sure we are in contention once again.

“Today was a great result for the team and a good day in the Constructors’ Championship.”

Red Bull extended their lead over Ferrari in the team’s championship to 80 points.