'Checo' Pérez in great fight for the F-1 title

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After a resounding victory, with a certain dose of what is known as "champion's luck", Sergio 'Checo' Pérez is acquiring the poster of candidate for the Formula One world title.

Red Bull's status as the best team is irrefutable, but Mexico's Perez and teammate Verstappen are tied 2-2 in wins, with the Dutchman's lead in the drivers' championship dwindling to just six points.

“Great job guys, we dominated over the weekend,” Perez said on team radio. "We are in the fight."

Perez took advantage of the safety car entry to defeat Verstappen at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday, adding to the sprint race he won the day before. Red Bull continued their winning streak so far in 2023.

"Checo" Pérez seized the lead after saving time during the period that the race was neutralized after Verstappen had entered the garage a lap earlier.

“It was something very closed between us. We did our best today”, said Pérez when interviewed at the foot of the urban circuit. “We both brushed against the wall a couple of times. The way Max has pushed me throughout the race was very hard. But we managed to keep it under control.”

Pérez redeemed himself after his bad experience in the previous race in Australia, where he finished fifth after going off the track in qualifying.

Verstappen started second in Baku, behind Ferrari's Charles Leclerc's Ferrari. But the reigning two-time champion passed the Monegasque at the end of the third lap, the first that drivers were allowed to use DRS.

It was the same as the way Perez passed Leclerc in Saturday's race. After Verstappen took the lead on Sunday, Perez needed just two laps to pass Leclerc and take second place.

Pérez benefited from the mishap suffered by Nyck de Vries and which caused the 'safety' to enter after his AlphaTauri went off the track when its suspension broke, just after Verstappen entered the garage as the leader. The 'safety' meant that Pérez and Leclerc lost less time in their stops and went ahead of Verstappen.

Pérez became the first driver to claim victory in Baku on more than one occasion and has four podium finishes here. The Mexican driver joked that he has won "two and a half times in Azerbaijan" when alluding to Saturday's sprint victory.

It was Pérez's sixth victory in F1, five on street circuits.

"It is what it is," Verstappen said of his result, describing what happened with the safety car as "bad luck."

Verstappen acknowledged that it was not his day and reacted calmer than on Saturday, when he had words with George Russell over a collision on the first lap of the sprint.

"Checo and I are having a good time," Verstappen said. “You have to know how to recognize and appreciate when someone has done an excellent job.”

Pérez added that there is "a high level of respect" between the two as they fight for the top spot in the championship.

They complete the ten

  • Spaniard Fernando Alonso finished fourth, in a fine showing for Aston Martin after struggling in qualifying on Friday.
  • He was ahead of his compatriot Carlos Sainz Jr. (Ferrari) and Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), who, like Verstappen, was affected by the entry of the 'safety'.
  • Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) entered seventh, ahead of Russell (Mercedes).
  • Lando Norris (McLaren) and Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) placed ninth and tenth, respectively.

In what the stewards described as a "very dangerous situation" near the end of the race, a group of people, including photographers, had to be carried off the track just as Esteban Ocon was preparing to make a pit stop in his car. penultimate lap.

As captured by television footage, F1 employees were leading photographers in front of the garage wall shortly before the end of the race, and were surprised when Ocon's car appeared.

"We consider that we have been lucky that there were no serious consequences for what happened today," the stewards said in a statement. “We have insisted that measures to ensure a safe and orderly event are paramount. This was recognized by the team of the International Automobile Federation (FIA)”, they added.

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