Sergio Perez won an extraordinarily dramatic Azerbaijan GP for Red Bull after team-mate Max Verstappen lost a certain victory in a high-speed accident five laps from the end, and Lewis Hamilton botched the subsequent restart to ruin his own chance of success.
After Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll had already suffered an accident when his left-rear tyre suddenly let go at around 200mph on Baku’s long main straight, Verstappen’s afternoon suffered a similarly scary conclusion on lap 46. Verstappen was headed for a key victory to stretch his title lead over Hamilton to 15 points when his own left-rear tyre suddenly let go and the Red Bull slammed into the outside wall on the pit straight.
Kicking the failed tyre after exiting his crashed car, a frustrated Verstappen trudged away and seemed set to lose the points lead to Hamilton, who was now running second to Perez. But, there was one final extraordinary final twist to come.
After the race was red-flagged and the cars returned to the pit lane while the track could be cleared, the event was eventually restarted late into the Baku afternoon with a second standing start from the grid for the final two laps.
Hamilton, whose Mercedes brakes were smoking as he lined back up on the grid, got a better getaway than Perez and appeared set to lead from the Red Bull into Turn One. But, inexplicably for a driver who makes so few mistakes, Hamilton ran straight on into the escape road as the pack streamed through the corner behind him.It was all the more frustrating for the seven-time champion given Mercedes had collectively worked wonders to get themselves in a front-running position in the first place after struggling all through practice for single-lap pace and tyre grip.
Perez certainly enjoyed his fair share of good fortune but the Mexican was already driving a strong race. Gaining two places off the start to run fourth, he jumped Hamilton through the pit stops and then kept the Mercedes at bay despite the world champion often running within DRS overtaking range of him.