By KELIN DILLON
Mexican Formula 1 (F1) driver Sergio “Checo” Pérez took first place for his team, Red Bull Racing, at the Azerbaijan Baku Grand Prix on the morning of Sunday, June 6, marking his first win with the team since joining the Austria-based team at the beginning of the season.
His teammate, Max Verstappen, led the race for the first 49 laps until an accident that took the Dutchman out of the running with blown tires, forcing a restart with just two laps to go.
While Mercedes driver and current world champion Lewis Hamilton took the lead at the relaunch, his brakes locked up in the first turn giving Checo the chance to swoop into first place, where he remained until the race’s end.
“I had the pressure from him,” Pérez said in a post-race interview. “But I was not going to miss (the opportunity).”
Checo started the race in sixth place from the qualifiers, but managed to make the most of the accidents on one of F1’s longest tracks in the world, winning him the trophy and further cementing Red Bull’s place at the lead of the Constructors’ Championship.
“I’m so happy for today,” said Pérez, though noted his sadness for Verstappen’s crash, saying “It would’ve been incredible to get that one-two for the team.”
This marks Guadalajara native’s second time taking the top of the podium after an incredible comeback in the 2020 season at the Bahrain Grand Prix, when he went from dead last to win the circuit, during his time with Racing Point.
Following Pérez on the Azeri podium were Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel in second and Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly in third.