Sergio Perez won the first sprint race of the Formula 1 season. The 33-year-old Mexican beat Charles Leclerc in Ferrari and world champion Max Verstappen in the second Red Bull race in Baku on Saturday. With eight points for the win, Perez now has 62 points in the overall standings, meaning he has reduced his gap to team-mate Verstappen (75) and gained confidence on the challenging street circuit in Azerbaijan for Sunday’s Grand Prix. (1 p.m., Heaven).
As in qualifying, it seemed like Verstappen wasn’t handling the conditions well. Early contact with the Mercedes of George Russell (Great Britain), after which he touched the wall a little, infuriated Verstappen, as a result of which he could not overtake Leclerc. Russell finished fourth, and that was just enough for teammate Lewis Hamilton to secure seventh. The only German in the field, Nico Hulkenberg, finished 15th in a Haas race car at the Caspian Sea.
A total of six sprint races will be held this year. For the first time in Baku there was a separate qualification five hours before the start. In the so-called penalty shootout, Leclerc took first place, just as he did in the main race. Pérez drove flawlessly from second to victory. The next race will take place in Spielberg, Austria, in early July.
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