Azerbaijan Grand Prix – F1 LIVE: Lap-by-lap updates and result
Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE: Sergio Perez leads Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen after safety car as duo battle it out, while George Russell jumps ahead of Lewis Hamilton
Follow Mail Sport’s live blog for lap-by-lap coverage of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Leclerc is first in to move onto hard tyres, Carlos Sainz doesn’t get as quick a pit stop and the original race leader pulls out in second splitting the Red Bull’s.
De Vries’ crash has caused a safety car to be deployed with Perez leading and having just set a new fastest lap. The Mexican was too close to Verstappen for Red Bull to double-stack their drivers and he stays out on track.
Verstappen was being caught by Perez and as Nick de Vries spins out we have a safety car which causes Red Bull to pull Verstappen into the pits. The world champion emerges out in seventh place.
Hamilton has been struggling with his tyres early on here and changes onto hards. It’s a quick pit stop just 2.6 seconds but I’m not sure that move has worked out for Mercedes with Hamilton coming out in 13th place.
The race leader clips the wall on bend four but that doesn’t stop him from setting a new fastest lap of the day. He’s nearly a second quicker than Perez behind him and is certainly benefitting from clean air out front.
Alex Albon flies into the pits for a quick tyre change to get a jump on the rest of the pack who should be pitting within the next 10 laps. It’s a quick change just three seconds, and he emerges back out in front of Bottas and Gasly in 18th.
Lance Stroll is tucked in behind his Aston Martin team-mate Fernando Alonso but the message from the pit-wall is that the youngster won’t be challenging to overtake the two-time world champion.
Alonso is told this message and in comical fashion replies: ‘He can have a go if he wants’. Never change Fernando.
As if like clockwork the Mexican flies past Leclerc using his DRS. It’s not as convincing as Verstappen’s overtake but he gets the job done.
The second Red Bull driver is in a great position and is closing in on Charles Leclerc. He tries to get past him using DRS but can’t cover enough ground as they head into the corner. Another lap and he will be past him I think.
Lewis Hamilton has had a fairly uneventful start and has just set a new fastest lap. He’s currently less than a second behind Sainz and is catching.
We mentioned Verstappen would soon be in catching distance of Leclerc and he gets him using DRS down one of the Baku straights. It’s easy for the Dutchman as his Red Bull breezes past the Ferrari.
The front five remained as they were before the race started with Leclerc currently leading out front.
1) Leclerc FERRARI
2) Verstappen RED BULL
3) Perez RED BULL
4) Sainz FERRARI
5) Hamilton MERCEDES
The race leader has maintained his place out front and now wants to try and put some distance between him and Verstappen. We know the Red Bull is quicker down the straights and can use DRS this lap as he is currently just 0.4 seconds behind the Ferrari.
George Russell has also had a brilliant start on the street circuit. He passed Oscar Piastri and Yuki Tsunoda to climb up to 9th after just three corners.
He had an awful afternoon yesterday but Lando Norris has made up two places off the grid. We have a double yellow flag being waved for debris in sector one which will slow the pace down.
Verstappen gets a better start off the grid but Leclerc holds onto first. The Ferrari driver keeps his place with Verstappen and Perez tucking in behind.
Charles Leclerc leads the drivers out on the formation lap as they have one lap to get their tyres warmed up and brakes worn in ready to race. When they return we will be getting racing underway.
The drivers are getting into their cars, the track is being cleared and we are almost ready to get underway for the sixth running of the Azerbaijan grand prix.
There will be 51 laps of this 7.3 mile street circuit for drivers to decide who will come out on top in the first race following a 28 day spring break. Formation lap will be underway in two minutes time.
We saw lots of drivers opt for mediums in yesterday’s sprint race, Lando Norris was one of only two that set off on softs and quickly regretted his decision.
Track temperature is seven degrees hotter today and that means medium tyres will be the preferred choice with an expected two-stop strategy.
Tyre degradation is a big concern for drivers today.
Charles Leclerc starts on pole but don’t expect him to maintain that lead for very long because the two Red Bull’s behind him have the pace and with DRS should fly to the front.
Perez starts behind his Red Bull team-mate on the grid but looked sharp around the Baku circuit in yesterday’s sprint race. He used to love his time around this track in his Force India days and has been given permission to race against Verstappen by Red Bull chief Christian Horner.
It won’t be easy, Verstappen will stick his elbows out if he hits the front but Perez has a great chance to win his second gp of the season.
Street circuits always deliver on their promise of drama and at the season’s first of the year we can expect plenty of that.
Fortunately there are plenty of overtaking opportunities on this track, tight corners and a 2.2km straight on the run from turn 16 to turn one are the most likely areas for drivers to pass one another.
However, those tight corners – as we saw yesterday – means there is also a huge chance of contact. The short race down to turn one off the grid will cramp plenty of vehicles together so expect contact here and through the first three bends.
That means virtual safety cars and a safety car are a strong probability. Yuki Tsunoda caused one yesterday when his tyre decided to come off and run down the middle of the road. Hopefully interruptions are few and far between today.
Charles Leclerc will start on pole as he did yesterday and will be chased by Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez who start just behind him. Leclerc’s Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz will follow while Lewis Hamilton starts from fifth.
Full grid line-up:
1) Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:40.203
2) Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing +0.188
3) Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing +0.292
4) Carlos Sainz Ferrari +0.813
5) Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +0.974
6) Fernando Alonso Aston Martin +1.050
7) Lando Norris McLaren +1.078
8) Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +1.378
9) Lance Stroll Aston Martin +1.408
10) Oscar Piastri McLaren +1.408
11) George Russell Mercedes 1:41.654
12) Alexander Albon Williams +0.164
13) Valtteri Botta Alfa Romeo +0.605
14) Logan Sargeant Williams +0.741
15) Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo 1:42.642
16) Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Team +0.775
17) Pierre Gasly Alpine +2.211
18) Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri +12.640
Pit lane Esteban Ocon Alpine
Pit lane Nico Hulkenberg Haas F1 Team
The sun is baking down on the tarmac of today’s Baku street circuit with the temperature currently hovering around 23c in the Azerbaijan capital city. It’s currently 2.20pm in the nation and we should have a rain-free race today.
The problem for drivers will be sun glare and the heat increasing tyre degradation. Ferrari struggled with that issue yesterday, hopefully they have been able to find a solution to slowing the process.
Yesterday’s first sprint race of the season always promised controversy and of course Max Verstappen was at the heart of the drama. Russell flew past Verstappen in the early corners and fairly passed him up the inside but touched Verstappen as the Red Bull driver refused to concede space on the outside.
That contact saw Verstappen finish the race with a hole in his sidepod. Afterwards the angry Dutchman told Russell he was a d***head and continued to strop in his post-race interviews.
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Drivers arrived earlier today and were interacting with the crowd as they made their way to the respective paddocks to get suited and booted. Everyone appeared in good spirits, even Max Verstappen, but it would be no surprise to see tempers flare on this tight-knit street circuit.
We’re back for our first grand prix in what feels like an eternity – 28 days in fact – and if yesterday’s sprint race is anything to go by then we are in for a storming day of action. Lights out is at 12pm and we have plenty to discuss before then.
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