Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE: Stroll crash, Verstappen leads Perez, Hamilton down in 3rd | F1 | Sport

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Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE: Charles Leclerc faces Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen battle


Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE (Image: GETTY)

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE

Charles Leclerc started on pole for Ferrari in Baku but has slipped down pecking order
MercedesLewis Hamilton overtook Leclerc on lap three
– Red Bull‘s Max Verstappen leads race, Sergio Perez behind him

– Lance Stroll crashes out in the Aston Martin with 180mph collision on lap 31

Lap 37: We’re back racing! Hamilton has got a tow on Perez but can’t get past him on the first lap after the restart.

Vettel gets past Leclerc into fifth and the Ferrari driver is lucky not to shunt into the back of the German a couple of corners later after a lock-up.

Aston Martin’s Vettel then gets beyond Pierre Gasly and is up into fourth. Could he catch Hamilton? His compounds are seven laps fresher.

Bottas was ninth but he’s now down to 13th. A grim weekend for the Finn in Baku.

Lap 36: Schumacher is forced to stop at the of the pitlane, before crossing the white line, and is rolled back into Haas’ box after an unsafe release. He’s still in the race though.

Lap 35: Hamilton says he can’t attack an overtake at the Safety Car restart on his current tyres. He’ll need a pitstop if he’s to get past Perez at any point it seems.

The pitlane opens up before the race restart but at this point, the cars are all bunched together and pitting drivers risk losing an irrecoverable amount of places.

Despite that, Alonso, Russell, Schumacher and Giovinazzi all box. 

Lap 32: Big crash! The yellow flags are out and so will be a Safety Car as Stroll leaves debris all over the track due to an 180mph impact. 

The Canadian is thankfully fine but suffered a high-speed shove into the wall just before the pitlane entry, spinning off to the left after a left rear tyre puncture

The pitlane is closed because of where his car is positioned.

Lap 31: Verstappen is comfortable out in front – he’s now nearly seven seconds clear of team-mate Perez in first.

Mercedes rival Bottas has had a hurry-up from the Silver Arrows, being told he’ll finish ninth or 10th if he doesn’t pass Norris. 

Lap 28: Was Hamilton playing mind games? He’s just started going faster again behind the two Red Bulls. We’ll see whether it’s fast enough to catch up to and overtake Perez.

Sainz overtakes Alonso back down the order but he’s still only up to 12th. He’s seven seconds behind Bottas in the final points-finishing position. Not the race day the Spaniard will have been hoping for.

Lap 26: Nikita Mazepin goes off down the escape round at turn four due to a lockout on both front tyres in the Haas.

The Russian, running 19th, is able to recover, while cameras show Bottas ran wide at turn 16 as he looks to overtake Norris.

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE (Image: GETTY)

Lap 24: It’s close among the top three but Verstappen boasts a three-second advantage for the timebeing. 

Hamilton has just dropped off slightly from Perez but is seven seconds clear of fourth-placed Lance Stroll, who has not yet pitted. 

The Briton says he’s “losing ground” on the two Red Bulls and he’s no longer in tow. Does he need to pit once more for fresh tyres towards the end?

Lap 20: Vettel is finally into the pits and Verstappen gratefully takes the lead of the race. The German rejoins in seventh between Leclerc and Tsunoda.

Hamilton is going at a good speed in third but he’s not quite within DRS range of Perez as he slipstreams the Red Bull.

Lap 17: Aston Martin’s Vettel still out in front having yet to stop, while the rest of the top 10 is as follows…

1) Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin
2) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
3) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
4) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
5) Lance Stroll, Aston Martin
6) Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri
7) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
8) Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri
9) Lando Norris, McLaren
10) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE (Image: GETTY)

Lap 15: Not good for Hamilton. Perez’s pitstop is slow and so he loses the lead to Verstappen, but the Mexican still comes out ahead of the Mercedes.

Can the Briton get back ahead of him while Perez is warming up his new tyres?

Lap 13: Hamilton pits first – but it’s a 4.6 second stop due to Pierre Gasly coming into the pits for AlphaTauri. That’s not an insignificant amount of time.

He rejoins in fourth before Verstappen boxes for a 1.9 second stop. He comes out with a healthy gap on his title rival, though Sergio Perez remains first and Sebastian Vettel – yet to pit- is second in the Aston Martin.

“How’s he so far ahead of me?” asks seven-time world champion Hamilton with Verstappen several seconds ahead of him.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz meanwhile goes into the run-off area at turn eight after locking up on his new hard tyres but is able to back up and return to the track.

Lap 11: Leclerc comes into the pits for the hard rubbers, with Hamilton and Verstappen still yet to come in. The latter is meanwhile on the cusp of DRS range.

Tsunoda, after telling his pitlane to “shut up” when being told to push harder, also makes an early pitstop.

Lap 8: More misery for Leclerc, as he drops to fourth with Red Bull’s Perez – who started sixth – the next to overtake him into the final podium position.

Alonso and Norris both pit with the latter looking to try and undercut ninth-placed Valtteri Bottas in the Mercedes.

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE (Image: GETTY)

Lap 7: Leclerc drops to second as Verstappen gets past the Ferrari. The Dutchman is through to attack race leader Hamilton now.

Further back, Yuki Tsunoda overtakes Alpine’s Fernando Alonso in the AlphaTauri to move into seventh. 

Lap 4: We have our first retirement. Esteban Ocon loses power in the Alpine and is forced back into the pits.

Lap 3: Just like that, Lewis Hamilton leads! That superior straight-line speed from the Mercedes, and the tow of Leclerc’s Ferrari, sees the Briton snatch the lead with ease down the 2km straight.

George Russell meanwhile pits for Williams. He’s trying to run on the hard tyres until the end of the race and Antonio Giovinazzi follows suit for Alfa Romeo.

Lap 1: We’re underway in the Azerbaijani capital! A good start for Leclerc and also for Hamilton. Verstappen stays behind the Merc in third.

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez meanwhile jumps up from sixth to fourth after a great start. Norris is down to 12th for McLaren.

AND IT’S LIGHTS OUT AT THE AZERBAIJAN GRAND PRIX!

12.50pm: Almost time for lights out in Baku. Max Verstappen wasn’t happy yesterday about the madness of qualifying and how many stoppages there were.

The angry Dutchman said: “All this s**t is all the time happening in Q3, I don’t care. It’s just unfortunate. It’s a street circuit so these things can happen.

“Qualifying, a lot of things are happening. Maybe in the race these things can happen again. Let’s hope for a clean start and we’ll see from there.”

Will we get an incident-free opening lap? Let’s hope so. Third-placed Verstappen will certainly be crossing his fingers for one.

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE: Charles Leclerc faces Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen battle

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE (Image: GETTY)

12.35pm: Lewis Hamilton, after ending up P2, hailed Mercedes’ remarkable turnaround in qualifying after a miserable Friday which saw them stuck outside of the top 10.

“We definitely weren’t expecting that,” the seven-time world champion admitted. “This is such a monumental result for us because we’ve been struggling like you couldn’t believe all weekend. You can see it.

“We kept our composure. We’ve continued to have difficult discussions in the background and challenging one another, and just never taking no for an answer.

“We’ve moved around, made so many changes, over these two days. Just chasing our tail and it’s been so difficult.”

He added of today’s race: “For us to turn it around and to be in the top three competing so closely with the Red Bulls and the Ferraris, who have been just destroying everyone last weekend and this weekend, is just [great to be] in the fight.

“We have got a race tomorrow and we are in a position to get some good points. I’m just excited.”

12.20pm: There were four red flags in a hectic qualifying session and Alpine’s Fernando Alonso has urged his Formula One rivals to “calm down a little bit”.

“I think the people need to calm down a little bit and drive 98 per cent in a street circuit because if you crash and you start last in the race, maybe you don’t drive over your possibilities,” the two-time world champion told Sky Sports F1.

“Today we saw many people driving over the possibilities of their car or their abilities.”

The Spaniard starts eighth in Baku today and said: “We have a good car; it has been good all weekend. We have always been in the top 10 in every session and we felt comfortable.

“Here you can overtake if you have the pace, so we need to take care of the tyres – that will be the hot topic for the race, I guess – but we are reasonably confident to take good points.”

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE: Charles Leclerc faces Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen battle

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE (Image: GETTY)

12.05pm: As a result of Norris’ three-place grid penalty, the top 10 for today’s race start is as follows…

1) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
2) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
3) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
4) Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri
5) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
6) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
7) Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri
8) Fernando Alonso, Alpine
9) Lando Norris, McLaren
10) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE: Charles Leclerc faces Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen battle

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE (Image: GETTY)

12pm: Further down the grid, Lando Norris will start ninth for McLaren, having been pushed down three spots because of a red-flag infringement.

The Briton did not pit at the first opportunity during a red flag as is mandatory, although his punishment has been reduced from the usual five-place penalty.

The stewards said: “During the hearing the driver admitted that he lifted the throttle, braked and was committed to and able to enter the pitlane.

“At that moment he was not sure what to do and asked his team over the radio. Although the team ordered him immediately to enter the pits, it was too late and NOR crossed the finish line one more time.

“The stewards assume that if a red flag is not respected during qualifying, a drop of 5 grid positions is appropriate.

“However, if you consider that the driver only had a very short time to react due to his position on the track, a drop of three grid positions is sufficient as an exception.”

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE: Charles Leclerc faces Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen battle

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE (Image: GETTY)

11.45pm: Good afternoon and welcome to Express Sport’s live coverage of the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix!

Charles Leclerc starts on pole for Ferrari having been denied the chance to front the pack in Monaco a fortnight ago by a pre-race mechanical issue.

The Monegasque, bidding to secure the Prancing Horse’s first race win in two years, is joined by Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton on the front row after Q3 was cut short by a red flag yesterday.

Yuki Tsunoda in the AlphaTauri crashed at Turn 3 and was followed by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz who locked up and went into the run-off area just seconds later as the session came to a premature end.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, the Drivers’ Championship leader, was denied the chance to beat his time and starts third with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly fourth.





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