Under pressure, Australian Formula 1 driver Daniel Ricciardo has finally returned to the red bull dominance race after retiring from both Ferraris.
Max Verstappen was knocked out again when rival Charles Leclerc failed to win the Formula One title on Sunday.
Verstappen extended his F1 Championship lead by winning the Azerbaijan Grand Prix – his fifth win of the season – after another Leclerc early retirement.
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Leclerc started from the pole, immediately losing the lead in the first corner to Sergio Perez, Worstapen’s Red Bull teammate, then used smart tactics to get his Ferrari to the front.
Leclerc restores the lead when the “Virtual Safety Car” pits under speed restrictions when two Red Bull cars are out.
Leclerc seemed ready to challenge for the win but the Monegasque driver’s car started emitting smoke on the 51’s 20 laps and he had to be dragged into the hole.
His engine failed – Leclerc’s second retirement in three runs.
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“It hurts. We really need to look at it so it doesn’t happen again,” he said.
“I can’t really find the right words to describe it. Obviously it’s very frustrating.”
Shortly before Leclerc’s failure, Verstappen overtook Perez and the current F1 champion reached his fifth victory in seven runs.
The Red Bull have won five races in a row, and although Leclerc has two wins this year, his last was in Melbourne in early April and his last podium was in Miami in early May.
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“It’s racing. It happened to me, it happened to a lot of people in the past. Unfortunately, it happened to Charles,” Verstappen said when asked if he had any sympathy for his opponent’s inconvenience.
“If I were in the same situation, I would be disappointed. I think it’s very normal.
“But with how you get out of it, you always see how things improve. We did that at the beginning of the season.
“And you learn from it. You don’t like it, you’re angry, but we turn it around.”
Worstapen took the victory a year after he was heading for victory in Baku, with only three laps to go before a blown tire hit him against the wall.
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There were also reliability concerns late Sunday when Verstappen told his team that the car seemed strange when it braked, but he was able to finish it.
“You can never make up for what you lost last year, but I think we had incredible speed in our car today. We can really take care of the tires and chip it forward,” Verstappen said.
“But of course, also, maybe (Leclerc) is a bit lucky with retirement. I think our car was really fast today and could have closed that gap.”
Perez finished second in the one-two in the Red Bull race, and third and fourth with Mercedes George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.
Perez, who won in Azerbaijan last year, said Red Bull had made the “right call” not to let him fight Worstapen to win, saying he had fought with worn-out tires.
It was Ricciardo’s first top 10 finish since the Melbourne Grand Prix in April, where he finished sixth and finished second in the season ahead of teammate Lando Norris.
McLarens finished eight and nine, crossed the young Brit Hot Finishing Line with the Aussie hammer, and was told not to pass.
Despite trying to keep the low-speed driver away from the rear speeding car, Ricardo stuck behind Norris for most of the initial race.
Ferrari had a terrible day because both Leclerc and teammate Carlos Senz Jr. failed to finish, as did the Ferrari-powered cars of Zhou Guanieu and Kevin Magnusen.
This is the first time since the Italian Grand Prix in 2020 that the Ferrari team has had to retire both cars.
Ferrari’s reliability slump comes because the Red Bull seems to have solved its own problems Both Worstapen and Perez stopped at the opening race of the season in Bahrain, the first race of the Red Bull since bringing the engine production home in 2022.
Verstappen is 21 points ahead of Perez, while Leclark has dropped to third place and is 34 points behind Verstappen.
Seven-time champion Hamilton complained of back pain from Mercedes’ tendency to bounce at high speeds and held his lower back when he got out of the car on Sunday after finishing fourth.
“Let’s make some changes, of course,” he told team boss Toto Wolf.
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Pierre Gasley was fifth for Alpha Tory and Sebastian Vettel was sixth for Alfa Romeo.
Alpine’s Fernando Alonso finished seventh, trailing Ricciardo and Norris, and Alonso’s teammate Esteban Okon was tenth.