SERGIO PEREZ has claimed the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after an extraordinary race in Baku.
Max Verstappen was on course for victory before a late crash saw him out, while Lewis Hamilton went too hard from the restart and finished miles back in the field.
- 1st Perez 2nd Vettel 3rd Gasly
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Lewis Hamilton had a day to forget at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as he blew a golden opportunity to regain the lead at the top of the Drivers’ Championship.
After title rival Max Verstappen crashed out with just FOUR laps to go, Hamilton suffered the same agonising fate when the race resumed.
Verstappen was on the verge of winning the race when his left rear tyre gave way and sent him flying into the wall.
The 23-year, unscathed by the crash, got out of his Red Bull and kicked the faulty tyre in frustration before storming off.
The race was stopped two laps later due to debris on the track, giving Hamilton – then second behind Sergio Perez – a golden opportunity to regain the lead in the Drivers’ Championship.
The 36-year-old Brit was even in with a chance of winning the GP as he resumed alongside Perez on the front row.
And for a brief moment, it appeared he’d overtaken the Mexican in the Red Bull as his Mercedes pulled out in front at the restart.
But Hamilton locked up and flew off the track, making a mistake that could cost him dearly later in the season.
DRIVING TO THE MAX
It was a painful end to the race for Max Verstappen, who for long periods looked set to consolidate his Driver’s Championship lead.
But with a clear road in front of him, Verstappen lost control of his Red Bull in the 47th lap and crashed into the wall.
His rear left tyre gave way – the same problem Lance Stroll experienced in his Aston Martin earlier in the race.
The title candidate couldn’t believe his luck, getting out of his knackered vehicle and kicking the faulty tyre in frustration.
Thankfully he appears to have been uninjured during the crash.
Hamilton somehow managed to go from P2, right back to last place.
An incredible end to the race in Baku.
He did not take his own advice.
SERGIO PEREZ WINS THE AZERBAIJAN GRAND PRIX
Sebastian Vettel on the podium in second. Pierre Gasly in P3.
HUGE MISTAKE FROM HAMILTON
That was the first time in 55 races where he has failed to score points.
Perez leads Vettel and there is a fascinating fight for third place as Gasly and Leclerc trade places. Norris also in the hunt for third.
DRAMA AS HAMILTON GOES ON AT TURN ONE
Perez loses P1 to Hamilton, who carries in too much speed and is forced into the exit road.
Perez leads from Vettel, Gasly in P3. Leclerc in P4.
Hamilton’s car is smoking….
HERE WE GO – THE RESTART
All eyes on the Perez v Hamilton fight. But Vettel is the only one on new tyres.
VETTEL COULD BE IN WITH A SHOUT FOR A WIN
DRIVERS GETTING READY FOR THE RESTART
This is going to be an exciting finish. Hamilton could be in for a bonus day here.
He was 11th quickest on Friday.
RACE TO RESUME IN AROUND 10 MINUTES
We will finish this GP. It will be a sprint to the chequered flag.
LAP 49 RESTART PROCEDURE
We are awaiting confirmation of how this race will restart, if indeed it does.
RED FLAG – RACE STOPPED
Verstappen’s car is recovered and the race is stopped.
PIRELLI MUST FACE THE MUSIC
Verstappen was travelling at 200mph and there was no warning. That’s a second failure.
He is inconsolable. Understandable.
BIG SMASH FOR VERSTAPPEN – HE IS OUT OF THE RACE
He has a rear left tyre failure – the same tyre that exploded on Stroll’s car.
That is a big one. Huge questions now for Pirelli. What a blow. He was in control of this race.
No warning whatsoever. What a dangerous incident.
VERSTAPPEN REPONDS BY SETTING THE FASTEST LAP
He is 4.137secs ahead of his teammate, who is in second place.
HAMILTON SETS THE FASTEST LAP
He is on for a bonus point here.
10 LAPS TO GO
Vettel is running in 4th. He has gone up seven places in this race. Great drive from the four-time world champion, who is closing in on Hamilton.
MAX IN CONTROL
Verstappen, Perez (+4.105), Hamilton (+1.368).
Bottas is passed by Giovinazzi and is dumped to 14th place.
Vettel gets Gasly. The German has fresher tyres and has made up two places. He is running in fourth place.
LAP 36 WE ARE RACING AGAIN
Verstappen gets away cleanly and Perez is under pressure from Hamilton but the Mexican stays in front.
Hamilton could have made a move there but was cautious. Meanwhile, Vettel gets past Sainz in to fifth.
Source: Motorsport - thesun.co.uk