Verstappen Wins 25th Grand Prix!

Verstappen Wins 25th Grand Prix

Max Verstappen achieved his 66th podium and 25th victory in Formula One at the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Though he has only managed one pole in eight races, he has won five races. In contrast, Charles Leclerc has achieved six poles this year and only won two races. Leclerc has DNF’d two out of the last three races, despite earning pole position in each of those races. Ferrari’s cars are fast but lack endurance. Meanwhile, Red Bull and company are sustaining consistent first and second place finishes over the first eight races of the season.

The Azerbaijan Gran Prix is an interesting race. The track is mapped thru the city of Baku. It is 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) long with 20 turns including a 2 kilometer straight. Speeds of up to 216 miles an hour can be achieved on this track. Sunday’s race held temperatures of 46 degrees Celsius. For my American readers, that is 114 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ferrari and Red Bull made up the first four places on the grid at the start of the race. Leclerc and Sergio Perez were on the front row with Verstappen and Carlos Sainz on the second row followed closely by George Russell in fifth position. It is a short sprint to turn one. Leclerc’s brakes were apparently cold because he locked up going into the turn at the start of the race, allowing Perez to slip by him. Ferrari’s woes continued during lap nine as Sainz’s car suffered hydraulic failure forcing him into the runoff at turn four. This is Sainz’s third DNF due to a mechanical failure this year. After Red Bull completed their initial pit stops, Leclerc found himself once again in first place going into lap 19. Ferrari’s demise occurred during lap 21 as Leclerc’s engine suffered a catastrophic failure, prematurely ending his race. After that, the remainder of the race was uneventful. Five cars DNF’d, including four powered by Ferrari engines. George Russell earned his 3rd podium of the season. Former Champions Fernando Alonzo, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton finished in the top seven. Notably, Lewis Hamilton struggled to get out his car at the end of the race. The Mercedes set up is having an adverse effect on his physical condition. Finally, for the third time this year, both McLaren’s finished in the top ten, putting them in fourth for the Constructors Championship.

Red Bull is the team to beat. To have a shot at winning, you must have a great driver and a great car. Red Bull is showing that they are able to consistently field a great car. Max Verstappen has matured has a race driver. He is cool, calm and collected. He is also steady. With one Formula 1 championship under his belt, he has all the confidence in the world. Sergio Perez is an extremely capable number two for Red Bull with his four second place finishes added to his lone victory. Red Bull’s consistency has Verstappen and Perez sitting on top of the Championship standings. If Ferrari does not get their act together, Red Bull will stay there.

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