Author: Senan SHAFIZADE
The most expensive sport in the world returned to Azerbaijan two years later. Cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix finally took place on the Baku Track. As expected, it was remembered for its accidents, forced breaks and high-speed overtaking.
Difficult city track, slippery asphalt, red flag on every lap... Competition in Baku is always different from other races. Intrigues and a large number of mistakes make the Azerbaijani Grand Prix an object of numerous discussions. Forecasts did not come true this year either.
New fifth winner
Formula 1 returned to Baku with a race that will be remembered for a long time. The winner of the memorable competition was Red Bull Racing driver Sergio Perez. He’s the fifth winner of the Baku City Ring competition. And a new name again. None of the drivers has managed to win the Grand Prix of Azerbaijan twice. The renowned Mexican pilot was the first to cross the finish line ahead of Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel and AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly. Turning surprise into reality, he managed to climb to the top of the podium in Baku.
Scuderia Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc made a good bid in the qualifying round, who two years later started the race for the first time as a leader. However, very soon the driver of the Mercedes team Lewis Hamilton took the lead. He was then successively overtaken by rival Max Verstappen and his teammate Sergio Perez. The drivers of the Red Bull team made a pit stop before the seven-time world champion.
Another interesting moment was the sharp advancement of the four-time world champion, Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel, who started the race from 11th position.
On one of the most important laps, Lance Stroll got into an accident due to a tire burst on the straight line of the Baku track. Stroll was not injured, but his car crashed into a barrier, and the competition was interrupted for a short time.
After a new start, the race was led by Red Bull drivers ahead of Hamilton. But suddenly, where Stroll dropped out of the race, Verstappen's car burst its left rear tire. Verstappen also dropped out of the competition. Fortunately, this time there were no injuries, which will undoubtedly allow the pilot to fight for the world title in the future.
After a break due to the Verstappen accident, the race was restarted. Two laps before the end, it was expected that Hamilton would be the first to reach the finish line. However, after a childish mistake at the turn, Sergio Perez immediately became the leader and won the title of the winner of the Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Secret of success
The Mexican driver won the Azerbaijan Grand Prix for the first time. The second and third places were taken by Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin), and Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri), respectively. Vettel was also declared the best pilot of the day according to an audience vote.
After the official registration of the transfer to the Red Bull team, everyone was interested in one question: what can he do against one of the best in the peloton, Max Verstappen? Sergio Perez said that it took him five races to adapt to the team. It turned out that Perez was right. Remaining at first in the shadow of his teammates, Perez won his first victory in the season and in the team and his second career victory in the sixth competition with Red Bull.
Verstappen's accident and Hamilton's mistake played a big role in Perez’s triumph. But this does not diminish the importance of his success. Sergio made every effort to win throughout the race. Starting from the sixth position, he overtook the Spaniard Carlos Sainz right at the start, moving into a decisive attack. Then Pierre Gasly could not stop him. A little later, he left Leclerc’s Ferrari behind and finished in third place, but he was not happy with that either. Although he, like Hamilton, was delayed at the pit stop, he managed to return to the race first. Ignoring several attacks from the last world champion, he continued the race at an even more accelerated pace. And after the restart, his main task was to reach the finish line first. After passing the first corner, his main rival Hamilton missed both the lead and the victory. Perez made the most of the moment.
A day after the end of the competition, Lewis Hamilton revealed the reason for the failure at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. After finishing the race in 15th place, the British pilot announced that he pressed the wrong button when entering a turn. The seven-time world champion admitted that he was confused when Sergio Perez from Red Bull approached him: “Inside there is a button for engaging the front brake. As Perez approached, I reacted involuntarily and touched the key by mistake. As a result, the button got stuck and I was unable to stop the car. The car began to move forward."
The leader of the 2021 season in the Formula 1 World Championship remained the same after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The reason for this is the 15th place taken by Hamilton. Verstappen (Red Bull), who is leading after five stages, had an accident in Baku on the sixth lap, but he managed to maintain the lead with 105 points. Hamilton was the second (101), and Perez, who won in Baku, brought the number of points on his account to 59 and moved to the third place.
No changes in the Constructors' Cup. Red Bull strengthened its lead (174 points), followed by Mercedes second (148) and Ferrari third (94).
Tension, entertainment and intrigue
We can talk about the Formula-1 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan for a long time. After the end of the race in Baku, the social media is teeming with opinions and thoughts about the tournament. Experts consider the competition in Baku to be the most intense and spectacular race. It is argued that the upcoming next 17 races will have as many accidents and intrigues as in Baku. After the first season of Formula 1 in Azerbaijan, some considered it unacceptable to race in the narrow central streets of Baku. Indeed, narrow streets create serious obstacles for pilots and cars. But the whole world has already perceived the degree of difficulty of winning the victory in the Baku race.
Let's turn to history. Interesting events take place on the Baku track every year. In 2017, Sebastian Vettel, who did not control his nerves, was in the spotlight, crashing his car, first from behind, and then from the side into Lewis Hamilton's car. In 2018, crash of competing Red Bull pilots Daniel Riccardo (Australia) and Max Verstappen. The Australian crushed Verstappen's car, and thus both pilots dropped out of the race ahead of schedule. In 2019, Daniel Riccardo drove in reverse into Daniil Kvyat's car, putting his colleague in a quandary. In other races, there are no such cases, since the streets in Baku are a difficult track for competitions.
The Formula 1 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan has ended this season. But track accidents and overtaking will be the subject of heated discussions for a long time.