With Charles Leclerc on pole position for the second race in a row and Carlos Sainz fifth, Scuderia Ferrari were looking ahead to a promising race on the streets of Baku.
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Photos: Scuderia Ferrari.
As the lights went out to start the race, Charles Leclerc managed to hold onto the lead despite a challenge from Lewis Hamilton off the line. Carlos Sainz dropped a place after a lock-up at turn two, allowing the Red Bull of Sergio Perez through into fifth position, eventually ending up in sixth position after losing out a second position to Pierre Gasly.
Leclerc lost the lead to a fast-charging Hamilton down the main straight, dropping Leclerc to second as he looked to catch back up to the Mercedes. On lap seven, Leclerc then lost out second to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, before losing third to Perez on the following lap.
Leclerc came in for his first stop on lap nine for a set of hard compound tyres re-joining in ninth place, as a pit stop a lap later for Sainz dropped him to eleventh.
Sainz suffered on his out lap from the pit lane, going down the escape road at turn eight, dropping him down to fifteenth position. As Verstappen took the lead of the race after his pitstop. Leclerc had recovered to seventh position, behind the AlphaTauri of Gasly.
Carlos set about recovering from his turn eight mistake straight away, soon finding himself behind the Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi in 13th position. Charles was able to make a position back up to sixth thanks to Sebastian Vettel’s pitstop dropping him to seventh.
On lap 23, Sainz squeezed past Giovinazzi for 13th, moving ahead of his Ferrari teammate through turn three. Three laps later and Carlos found himself in 12th, passing compatriot and former Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso for the position.
A safety car was then deployed for an accident for Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll, after a tyre failure sent the Canadian into the barrier after turn 18. Stroll was unharmed in the accident and was able to take himself out of the car, returning to his team in the pits in the F1 medical car.
After a brief closure of the pit lane to clear up debris from Stroll’s accident, it was re-opened on lap 35. The safety car then ended on the same lap, with Verstappen holding onto the lead ahead of Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez.
Leclerc had a poor restart, losing out to Sebastian Vettel and dropping to sixth before locking up on the entry to turn two. Sainz had a much better start, moving up to tenth at the expense of McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo.
A shock accident for leader Max Verstappen on the main straight took the Red Bull out of the race, handing the lead to teammate Perez, while Leclerc and Sainz moved up to fifth and eighth position. A red flag was then deployed two laps before the end in order to clear Verstappen’s car.
As the race restarted at 18:10 local time, Perez held onto the lead as Hamilton locked up at the first corner, dropping him down to sixteenth. Leclerc hassled the drivers in front for the final podium position and finished the race a fine fourth position, as Perez took his first win for Red Bull. Carlos was able to finish in the points in eighth after a fine recovery drive for both cars.
Written by Cóilín Higgins.