F1: Red Bull's Verstappen gets in shape for new season
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Red Bull chief Christian Horner admits the Azerbaijan Grand Prix has aged him ’20 years’ after championship leader Max Verstappen crashed out of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, handing victory to his teammate Sergio Perez.
Verstappen hit the wall hard while leading the way around the streets of Baku, traveling at 200mph on the straight when he suffered a rear tyre failure, not too dissimilar to an incident involving Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll earlier in the race.
The incident brought out the red flag as the debris was removed from the track, with Verstappen so frustrated he kicked the Red Bull car.
Race control decided to restart the race, with Perez winning in a two-lap-sprint finish, beating Lewis Hamilton after a rare mistake from the seven-time world champion saw him finish P15.
Perez grabbed his second Formula One win and his first for the team, with no points scored by either of the two main title contenders Hamilton and Verstappen.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff defends Lewis Hamilton over Azerbaijan woes
Despite not finishing the race, Verstappen remains championship leader with a four-point lead over Hamilton, with no points for Mercedes and Red Bull grabbing 25 points in the team standings.
And Red Bull say they will try to get to the bottom of what happened with the Dutchman’s rear left.
“I think I’ve aged about 20 years,” said Horner speaking to Sky Sports F1.
“We were staring down the barrel of our first 1-2 since 2016… everything in control, we’d just check in with Max, all okay and then boom, the tyre went and at the moment we don’t know why.
“It looked like the wear was all in good shape, so whether it’s debris or something has happened, a big place to have an accident, thankfully he’s okay.
Lewis Hamilton explains Azerbaijan GP misery
Lewis Hamilton throws away Azerbaijan win as Max Verstappen crashes
Max Verstappen crashes out of Azerbaijan Grand Prix
“Let’s get the tyre back, look at it fully, you know obviously the feeling at that point was like the world had just dropped from us”
Red Bull extend their lead at the top of the team standings to 26, and despite Verstappen not even finishing the race, lead the driver standings too.
And for Perez, he picked up his first win for Red Bull with Horner full of praise for the Mexican post-race.
Horner added: “His pace was stunning in the race, if he hadn’t gone deep in the pit stop [missed his mark], he might have overcut Max, such was his pace on that in-lap.
“Then you saw him racing Lewis hard [at the restart], he was nursing a hydraulic issue as well, we were really concerned the car wouldn’t get to the end of the race, which is why he stopped after the chequered flag.
“We thought we could only lose, thankfully it all worked out tremendously well, and Sergio did a great, great job.”
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