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Sergio Perez beats Max Verstappen as Red Bull remains unbeaten

Sergio Perez defeated Max Verstappen to victory at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday to continue Red Bull’s undefeated start to the 2023 Formula One season. 

Perez’s victory was helped by a well-timed safety car on Lap 10, which helped him jump past Verstappen at his pit stop, although the Mexican was faultless once he took the lead. 

Perez and Verstappen each have two grand prix wins this year, while Perez also won Saturday’s sprint race. 

Perez’s strong weekend has cut Verstappen’s championship lead to six points. 

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who started the sprint race and Sunday’s grand prix from pole position, claimed Ferrari’s first podium of the season in third. 

Leclerc’s lead in the race lasted for three laps before Verstappen powered past him using DRS on Lap 3. 

Perez got past Leclerc two laps later for second position. 

The order at the front swapped around when Nyck de Vries, driving for Red Bull’s sister team AlphaTauri, crashed and triggered a safety car. 

That gave Perez the chance to make his pit stop while the rest of the field was driving at a reduced rate, moving him in front of Verstappen, who had stopped moments after De Vries had crashed but before the safety car had been deployed. 

Leclerc had a lonely race to third position ahead of Fernando Alonso, who saw his run of podiums come to an end. 

Alonso’s race featured a spectacular, opportunistic overtake on fellow Spaniard Carlos Sainz at the safety car restart. 

Sainz held off Lewis Hamilton in the closing laps to claim fifth in the other Ferrari. 

Hamilton concluded ahead of Lance Stroll, who had a messy race that included a bump with the wall and a wide moment which let the seven-time world champion pass him down the main straight. 

Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate George Russell finished eighth. Russell had enough of a gap on the penultimate lap to pit for soft tires and claim the bonus point for the fastest lap of the race. 

Lando Norris finished ninth for McLaren on a weekend the team has showed clear progress with its upgraded package. 

Yuki Tsunoda claimed the final point on offer for AlphaTauri. 

Disaster was narrowly avoided on the final lap, when Esteban Ocon came in to make a late pit stop for Alpine while a group of photographers had gathered at the end of the pit lane. Fortunately, the French driver managed to avoid making contact with anyone. 

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