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Race report
Formula 1 Azerbaijan GP

F1 Azerbaijan GP: Perez overtakes Leclerc for sprint race win

Sergio Perez overtook polesitter Charles Leclerc to take victory in Formula 1's Azerbaijan Grand Prix sprint race, taking the chequered flag with a 4.4s lead.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

Starting second, Perez slotted in behind Leclerc at the start and stuck with him through the opening lap, before the race was paused for a safety car period produced after Yuki Tsunoda hit the wall at Turn 14 on the opening lap.

The Japanese driver tore the right-rear tyre off the rim, appearing to have had contact with team-mate Nyck de Vries to damage his front wing.

A virtual safety car emerged for the debris, as Tsunoda crawled back to the pitlane. Although AlphaTauri put a new set of tyres on to try and salvage something from the sprint, the car was noticeably crabbing on the straights and the team was investigated for releasing the car in an unsafe condition.

This evolved into a full-blown safety car by the third lap, with proceedings restarting on the sixth lap once the debris was cleared from the track.

Leclerc let fly on the restart to stay ahead of Perez, leading the next two laps with the Mexican keeping tabs on him.

But once DRS was available once more Perez became a greater force in Leclerc's mirrors and, at the end of lap seven, reeled the Ferrari in on the 2.2-kilometre Neftchilar Avenue straight and swept past to pick up the lead of the 17-lap race.

The Monegasque stuck with him and had a brief look down the inside into Turn 3, but ultimately was not presented with an opportunity to return the favour.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, the rest of the field at the start of the Sprint

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, the rest of the field at the start of the Sprint

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

With greater straightline speed, Perez could slowly start to edge away from Leclerc and eventually broke free of DRS range as Leclerc was more concerned with trying to manage his tyres to keep ahead of Max Verstappen.

The Ferrari driver briefly closed in once again and got back within DRS range of Perez, but the Red Bull driver turned up the wick and once again broke free of Leclerc at almost a second a lap's advantage, growing to 4.4s by the flag.

Leclerc managed to hang on in second from a late Verstappen charge, as the reigning champion was hampered by damage in a first-lap skirmish with George Russell.

The Mercedes driver had a better getaway and was side-by-side with Verstappen through the opening array of corners, eventually breaking past at Turn 3 - with Verstappen complaining that Russell had touched him through the first lap. His Red Bull sustained a small gash in its left sidepod, as he momentarily dropped to fourth.

But after the restart following the safety car, Verstappen caught a tremendous run on Russell and seared past to reclaim third place.

However, Verstappen was unable to make inroads into Leclerc and dropped outside of DRS activation for most of the sprint - only getting to within a second in the final couple of laps.

Russell claimed fourth ahead of Carlos Sainz, who had battled earlier on with Lewis Hamilton, and broke past the Briton after falling behind before the restart.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, battles with George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, ahead of Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, battles with George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, ahead of Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Alonso followed through in the same move to get ahead of Hamilton, as Lance Stroll claimed the final point after winning out in a battle with Alex Albon.

Stroll made a move past the Williams at Turn 1 from a long way behind, and held off Albon into Turn 3.

Oscar Piastri completed the top 10 after passing team-mate Lando Norris - who struggled for pace and ultimately pitted to turn his race into a glorified test session.

F1 Azerbaijan GP sprint race results:

Cla Driver Chassis Engine Gap Interval
1 Mexico Sergio Perez Red Bull Red Bull    
2 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari Ferrari 4.463 4.463
3 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull Red Bull 5.065 0.602
4 United Kingdom George Russell Mercedes Mercedes 8.532 3.467
5 Spain Carlos Sainz Ferrari Ferrari 10.388 1.856
6 Spain Fernando Alonso Aston Martin Mercedes 11.613 1.225
7 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 16.503 4.890
8 Canada Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes 18.417 1.914
9 Thailand Alex Albon Williams Mercedes 21.757 3.340
10 Australia Oscar Piastri McLaren Mercedes 22.851 1.094
11 Denmark Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 27.990 5.139
12 China Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo Ferrari 34.602 6.612
13 France Pierre Gasly Alpine Renault 36.918 2.316
14 Netherlands Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri Red Bull 41.626 4.708
15 Germany Nico Hulkenberg Haas Ferrari 48.587 6.961
16 Finland Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari 49.917 1.330
17 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes 51.104 1.187
18 France Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault 1'00.621 9.517
  Japan Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Red Bull    

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