Seeing Max Verstappen spin out after a puncture in his left rear tyre in the early hours of Monday morning (AEST) was heartbreaking.
He had done everything right from his end and so had his Red Bull team on the pit wall and in the garage.
But it was not to be, and many F1 fans thought Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton would not only end up winning the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, but retake the lead in the drivers’ championship.
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After the red-flag stoppage caused by Verstappen’s incident, the race resumed and it looked like Hamilton would nip ahead of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.
However, the reigning champion accidentally flicked a switch that essentially turned his brakes off as he locked up and went straight on Turn 1.
For Verstappen, it was a major saving grace as it meant Hamilton would score no points and ensures the gap between the two will stay the same until the next race.
Both Red Bull drivers had a strong lead over Hamilton for the majority of the race, leading the Brit to comment on his lack of pace in comparison to what he said was Red Bull having a faster overall car.
Verstappen was visibly disappointed after crashing out in Baku.Source:AFP
But Verstappen wasn’t having any of that. Speaking to reporters after the race, the 23-year-old said if he was behind the wheel of Hamilton’s Mercedes, he would still be faster than the seven-time world champion.
“I would say that (Red Bull’s car is faster) too if I were him,” said Verstappen. “I think if I’m in his car I’m still two tenths (of a second) faster than him.
“I don’t care what he says.”
The Dutch star also took note of how Mercedes had performed on normal circuits this year as opposed to street circuits (Monaco and Baku), which won’t return until the Australian Grand Prix in November.
“It seems like we have the upper hand over Mercedes on street circuits,” said Verstappen. “That’s exactly why I would have liked to score more points.
“Of course it makes a difference (Hamilton not scoring points), but of course I would have preferred to have walked away (with a victory).
“I’m sure on normal circuits it becomes a lot harder to have a race like we had here.
“Our car was very good, but I honestly expect a strong Mercedes on normal circuits.
“I feel bad about this missed opportunity to run out of points.
“We need those points over the whole season, especially when we go back to normal circuits.”
Verstappen will look to extend his lead at the top of the drivers’ championship at the French Grand Prix on June 20.
Hamilton locked up and went straight off Turn 1 when the race restarted.Source:Getty Images
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