Baku (Azerbaijan): Red Bull driver Sergio Perez won the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday after team-mate Max Verstappen, who was leading, crashed out with five laps left owing to a puncture, and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton made a rare mistake in the closing stages.
Perez got his second career win ahead of Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, who secured his maiden podium for the team by finishing second. Alpha Tauri driver Pierre Gasly completed a surprise podium, finishing third.
Verstappen had controlled the race since taking the lead from Hamilton during the first round of pit stops but crashed heavily into the barriers on the home straight, unable to control the car after the left rear tyre was punctured. The Dutchman kicked the rubber in disgust before walking away.
It was the second such incident on Sunday after Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll had suffered the same fate a few laps earlier at the same section.
The race was stopped and a standing start ordered for the last two laps where Hamilton tried to pass Perez from second place but locked up, went straight on into Turn One and finished 15th.
It completed an unforgettable weekend for Mercedes, who could not garner any points as Valtteri Bottas finished 12th.
And Hamilton’s mishap also meant that Verstappen retained the championship lead of four points ahead of the Mercedes driver.
“Normally Baku is pretty crazy,” Perez said. “I have to say sorry to Max, it would have been incredible to get that one-two for the team. But at the end, it was a fantastic day for us. This is definitely a strong boost of confidence for myself.”