Verstappen accepts Red Bull were 'tiny bit lucky' in Baku with Leclerc retirement

By Sports Desk June 12, 2022

Max Verstappen accepts he was "a tiny bit lucky" after Charles Leclerc was forced to retire from the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, but the Red Bull driver was always confident of victory.

Leclerc once again failed to turn pole into victory in Baku due to a second engine-related retirement from the lead in the space of three grands prix.

He was passed into the first corner by Sergio Perez, who eventually finished second to team-mate Verstappen, and after doing well to recover his day soon got a whole lot worse.

Having dived into the pits under the virtual safety car after fellow Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz had retired with a hydraulics issue, Leclerc's engine failed on lap 20.

It was a procession for Red Bull from that point, with Verstappen leading Perez to a Red Bull one-two in the eighth race of the season, five of which the Dutchman has won.

Verstappen has 25 career wins to his name, meanwhile, and leads second-placed Perez in the 2022 drivers' standings by 21 points, with Leclerc 34 points back in third.

Reflecting on his latest triumph, coming on the same circuit where he himself retired when leading last season, Verstappen said: "We were a tiny bit lucky with what happened.

"But nonetheless our car was really quick, so I could have closed that gap, and then you have a race on your hands.

"You can never make up for what we lost last year, but we had incredible pace in the car and we could look after the tyres and chip away at it. Overall, I'm really happy with how the balance of the car was."

Verstappen has now claimed 66 podium finishes, breaking the record of Sebastian Vettel, who finished sixth for Aston Martin, for the most by a Red Bull driver.

With Perez finishing second, Red Bull are 80 points clear of closest challengers Ferrari in the constructors' standings with 14 race weekends remaining.

"To have a one-two as a team, it was a really good day for us," Verstappen added. "I don't know what clicked exactly – maybe tyre behaviour and general grip of the car? 

"That's what you need around here so you can look after your tyres."

Perez started strongly in the Azerbaijani capital and claimed a bonus point for setting the fastest lap, though he was ultimately unable to match Verstappen's pace.

The Mexican was instructed by his team not to fight against Verstappen for first place, a decision in which he accepts

"I think it was the right call by the team because at that time Max was a bit further ahead. It’s a good team result," he told Sky Sports.

"In this place anything can happen. At the end of the day we managed to do a one-two so it’s a great team result."

Despite climbing above Leclerc into second in the overall standings, Perez believes lessons can be learned ahead of next week's Canadian Grand Prix.

"Unfortunately we missed the virtual safety car stop," he said. "There was some miscommunication and in the end it was a bit too late. 

"We were a bit unlucky there because that would have made our race when we were leading.

"The degradation was extremely high on that medium tyre. It's something we have to understand because certainly Max was a lot stronger on that medium stint.

"There are a lot of things we have to review from today, but it was still a very good team result."

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