F1: Checo Pérez throws everything in the Azerbaijan GP | Formula 1 | Sports

Sergio Pérez, Red Bull driver, celebrates his victory in the Azerbaijan GP.
Sergio Pérez, Red Bull driver, celebrates his victory in the Azerbaijan GP.Sergey Grits (AP)

If most of the teams that are measured in the Formula 1 World Cup focus on racing, Red Bull has organized a tennis match between its two drivers that can last until the championship closes, in Abu Dhabi, at the end of of November. Max Verstappen and Checo Pérez are locked in a more even exchange of blows than might be thought a priori if we take into account that the current champion is on one of the sides. The difference in potential between the energetic single-seaters and the rest has arranged a particular duel between the Mexican and the Dutchman, who are gaining air at the head of the general table without anyone being able to reverse that trend. Until now, the pair of runners from the red buffalo brand have equally shared the four victories that have been put at stake, while Pérez, in addition, was the winner of the first sprint date of the course, held this Saturday in Azerbaijan.

The one from Jalisco is going through the sweetest moment of his career, a window that allows him to even bother a phenomenon like his partner. In a circuit embraced by walls and with traps in each corner, the theoretical squire revealed himself again and swept away with everything to reduce the cushion that separates him from Verstappen and leave him at only six points. Mad Max certified the third double for Red Bull of four possible, while Charles Leclerc managed to secure a podium that Fernando Alonso (fourth) questioned after once again showing that he has rope for a while. Carlos Sainz, for his part, finished fifth thanks to his defense against Lewis Hamilton, who was never in a position to throw his Mercedes at him.

Red Bull has been a company that has transcended thanks to its daring and its disruptive strategy in terms of communication and marketing. It remains to be seen if those responsible for its Formula 1 division are Flemish enough not to intervene in the brawl between its two most illustrious employees. Despite Verstappen’s indisputable dominance for most of the past year, the atmosphere between him and Pérez became rare at specific times, to the point of accusing each other of disloyalty. If we pay attention to the language of one and the other as soon as the fourth stop on the calendar is over, it would not be strange if things ended in revelry again, especially if Checo continues to embroider it as he has done in this first section of the season and luck smiles at him like this time.

When the Red Bull bring out the hammer it is impossible to keep them at bay, regardless of whether any of them start from the pole. The two RB19s needed six laps to snack on Leclerc and leave him stranded, and another six more to open a gap of another six seconds over the Monegasque, as soon as the test was restarted (lap 14). With the panorama completely clear, chance turned its back on Verstappen, who received the call on the radio to turn into the garage lane and make the only scheduled stop to change tires (lap 11). As good as the strategists of the Milton Keynes (Great Britain) structure are, they are still not capable of predicting the future, at least for the moment. Otherwise they would have seen the accident of Nyck de Vries coming, who hit the barriers with the right wheel of his Alpha Tauri and led the commissioners to release the safety car, a circumstance that caused a storming of the garages, given the saving in time that means carrying it out with the race neutralized by the ‘safety’, and which in this case is nine seconds. That margin relocated Leclerc to the front, ahead of Pérez and Verstappen, who did not even ruffle their hair to burn the Ferrari man.

Once they got rid of the red car, the two Red Bulls zoomed off without Checo showing any cracks for Verstappen to poke his nose through. “We have dominated this weekend. If we avoid days like those in Melbourne – he finished fifth – we are in the fight”, Pérez summed up on the radio, in a clear message of thanks to the human group that works with him, and not so much to the team. “Checo had some luck with the safety car, but the season is very long,” Christian Horner, director of the champion team, justified himself before Verstappen.

Azerbaijan GP Qualifying

Position Pilot Equipment Time
1 Checo Perez Red Bull 1:32:42.436
2 max verstappen Red Bull +2,137
3 charles leclerc Ferrari +21,217
4 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin +22,024
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +45,491
6 lewis hamilton Mercedes +46,145
7 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +51,617
8 George Russell Mercedes +74,240
9 Lando Norris McLaren +80,376
10 Yuki Tsunoda Alpha Tauri +83,862

You can follow EL PAÍS Sports on Facebook and Twitteror sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.