Saturday, May 28

Checo Pérez shines and wins the Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Checo Pérez after winning the Grand Prix in Baku this Sunday.
Checo Pérez after winning the Grand Prix in Baku this Sunday.MAXIM SCHEMETOV / AP

Checo Pérez has won the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, marked by the misfortune of his teammate Max Verstappen. The Mexican Red Bull driver, who started from sixth position, maintained a great race pace that had propelled the team to the first two places of the race. The Mercedes, on a bad afternoon, had been left behind. Verstappen, however, suffered a puncture five laps from the end that left the victory to the only Latin American in Formula 1. Behind the Mexican were Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly.

Frustration in qualifying had accompanied Checo Pérez during his stay at Red Bull. The Mexican dazzled during practice and qualifying, but it was in the last moments of Q3 that other collateral damage occurred. Yuki Tsunoda’s car crashed and Sainz’s car got hit too. The incidents cost the Red Bull drivers a final lap in which they wanted to climb positions. Perez stalled in seventh, but a penalty on Lando Norris allowed him to move up to sixth.

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In Baku, the Mexican started plugged. Checo Pérez came out of sixth place to climb to fourth position ahead of Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri) and Carlos Sainz Jr. (Ferrari). Verstappen and Pérez started hard to fight at the top. Hamilton had taken the lead over Charles Leclerc, the pole winner. The good rhythm of the red buffalo cars was noticed on the street track and the direct battle was with the seven-time Formula 1 champion.

The Mexican Sergio 'Checo' Pérez celebrates the victory this Sunday in Baku.
The Mexican Sergio ‘Checo’ Pérez celebrates the victory this Sunday in Baku.TOLGA BOZOGLU / EFE

On lap eight, Checo Pérez passed Leclerc to stay in the top three places and push Verstappen to take the lead. When the Mexican entered the pitsOn lap 14, he was able to start, by just a few meters, ahead of Lewis Hamilton. The Briton had the Mexican in sight and this should serve as a stopper for Verstappen to continue opening a gap in the leadership. Those of Red Bull achieved, at that time, 1-2.

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On lap 31 Lance Stroll had a mishap on the track, when he lost control of the Aston Martin, and that allowed the safety car (safety car) in the race. In the restart, Hamilton tried to win a gap to the Mexican, but the Red Bull could do more for the power. And the improbable happened: Verstappen’s car had a flat tire on the final stretch of the competition. The break opened the opportunity for a last lap at full speed for Hamilton to attempt to beat Checo Pérez in two final laps. On the restart, Hamilton launched himself with excessive force that ended up off the track.

Checo Pérez, in his ten years in Formula 1, took the podium twice at the Baku circuit: in 2016 and 2018 he finished third. And now in 2021 with a second place. The Mexican already has eleven podiums in his entire career. The victory in Sakhir in 2020, three second places (Malaysia and Italy in 2012, and Turkey in 2020) and six third places (Canada, in 2012; Bahrain, in 2014; Russia, in 2015, Monaco and Baku in 2016 and 2018) .

The only Latin American this season in Formula 1 tied his compatriot, Pedro Rodríguez, with his second win. Rodríguez, a myth of Mexican motorsport, won in 1967 with Cooper and in 1970 with British Racing Motors.

The Mexican, who saved the day for Red Bull, gave his best performance so far this season and the team remains at the top of the drivers’ championship. In the drivers’ standings, Pérez climbed to third position (69 points), below Hamilton (101) and Verstappen (105). Checo Pérez’s big day is here.

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