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Max finishes in P3 in damaged car after sprint Baku: 'It is a shame'

Published on 29 April 2023 by Kees-Jan Koster

Max Verstappen finished third in the sprint in Azerbaijan. The Dutchman sustained damage after an incident with George Russell in the first few corners. After that it was impossible to try and overtake. Max’ teammate at Oracle Red Bull Racing, Sergio Perez, finished first. Charles Leclerc started from pole position but had to settle for second position. George Russell finished fourth. Carlos Sainz also finished in his starting position in P5.

After the incident with Russell, Verstappen went to see him. When asked if that clarified what happened, Max answers: “No, it is not cleared up. I do not understand why you have to take so much risk in the first lap. He understeered into my sidepod and caused a hole. We all have cold tyres and it is easy to lock up. But his explanation does not make sense.”

Max explains how he experienced the incident: “We did not have a good start. I went to the outside because I could. But when you are on the inside you have to be more careful when someone is on the outside, especially on a street circuit. I think I gave him enough space. But in turn two he pushes against my side. I lost momentum and he takes the position. I do not think that is fair.”

Russell was allowed to keep his position after the incident. Max responds: “It is special that the stewards do not even investigate, especially when I have damage on my car. In Formula 1 everything is about downforce. It has to be perfect. A little bit of damage can make a huge difference. We have to check the data to see how much difference it made, but it did not feel okay when driving. You try to get into the slipstream, but when you are behind a car for many laps, the tyres get to warm and you have to back out.”

Despite that the Dutchman tries to see the positives. Asked if he is still angry, Max answers: “No, not me. But it is a shame. Of course, he tries, but it is not necessary to take so much risk. We still have P3. And some good points. It is what it is. Now we focus on tomorrow.” 


There is eight points for grabs for the winner of the sprint. Max starts from the second row, as he qualified third during the sprint shootout. Leclerc starts from pole position, with Perez next to him. All drivers will start the sprint on the medium tyre, except for Lando Norris and Valtteri Bottas. They start on soft tyres. Logan Sargeant cannot take part in the sprint, after driving his Williams into the wall during the sprint shootout.

At the start of the sprint in Azerbaijan, Max does not have a good start. Russell, who started from P4, moves immediately next to Max. They make contact and Russell overtakes Verstappen. The car of the Dutchman is damaged in the incident. Max reports his dissatisfaction over the radio and thinks he should get the position back. Leclerc stays in the lead after a good start from pole position.

Suddenly a medium tyre is rolling on the track. The tyre came from Yuki Tsunoda’s car, who hit the wall and damaged his front wing. This causes a virtual safety car. Which was followed by the regular safety car not much later because of all the debris on track. AlphaTauri tries to repair the car, but when the car comes back out on track it becomes clear that this did not work. The suspension is damaged and Tsunoda comes back into the pits. He is the first to retire.

When the safety car comes in, Max can retake his third position. Sainz and Alonso overtake Hamilton. Perez is gaining on Leclerc, and he overtakes him in lap eight. Putting the Mexican in the lead of the race. Max also gains on Leclerc but is unable to overtake. Perez increases the gap to Leclerc. When he comes over the finish line his lead over Leclerc is more than four seconds. Max finishes in P3. Russell in P4, while Sainz completes the top five.

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Results sprint race Azerbaijan:

1Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1733:17.6678
2Charles LeclercLECFerrari17+4.463s7
3Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT17+5.065s6
4George RussellRUSMercedes17+8.532s5
5Carlos SainzSAIFerrari17+10.388s4
6Fernando AlonsoALOAston Martin Mercedes17+11.613s3
7Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes17+16.503s2
8Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes17+18.417s1
9Alexander AlbonALBWilliams Mercedes17+21.757s0
10Oscar PiastriPIAMcLaren Mercedes17+22.851s0
11Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari17+27.990s0
12Zhou GuanyuZHOAlfa Romeo Ferrari17+34.602s0
13Pierre GaslyGASAlpine Renault17+36.918s0
14Nyck De VriesDEVAlphaTauri Honda RBPT17+41.626s0
15Nico HulkenbergHULHaas Ferrari17+48.587s0
16Valtteri BottasBOTAlfa Romeo Ferrari17+49.917s0
17Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes17+51.104s0
18Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault17+60.621s0
0Yuki TsunodaTSUAlphaTauri Honda RBPT2DNF0