Verstappen praises Red Bull’s ‘incredible pace’ but admits to ‘luck’

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Red Bull's Max Verstappen celebrates victory in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has admitted that there was an element of luck to his easy victory in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen clinched a dominant victory in Baku on Sunday, coming home 20 seconds clear of Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez as the pair controlled proceedings after two separate mechanical failures took Ferrari out of the race.

Verstappen rose from third on the grid to pass Perez on track after Charles Leclerc’s retirement, before sprinting clear throughout the second half of the race.

Having retired from the lead after a tyre failure five laps from the finish last year, Verstappen was overjoyed to have banished the memories of that race.

“You can never make up what you lost last year, but I think today we had an incredible pace in the car,” he told Sky F1 after crossing the line to open up a 34-point gap to Leclerc in the Drivers’ Championship and 21 points clear of Perez with the Red Bull drivers now first and second.

“We could really look after the tyres, and we could chip away at it, [and] pass for the lead.”

Verstappen admitted he’d felt a little bit lucky to have circumstances fall into his lap, as Ferrari’s aggressive pit strategy had given Red Bull a proper challenge on the tyre choice.

“But then, of course, also [we were] maybe a tiny bit lucky because of the retirement [for Ferrari], but I think, nevertheless, our car was really quick today, so I could have closed that gap,” Verstappen explained as Red Bull had pitted him nine laps after Leclerc.

“Then of course you have a race on your hands but, overall, [I’m] really happy with how the balance of the car was today.”

As for what the critical difference was compared to Saturday’s qualifying, where the Dutch driver struggled to match Perez over a single lap, Verstappen said he’d felt good on the tyre management front.

“I don’t know, just tyre behaviour together with just general grip of course of the car,” he said, when asked about what had worked so well for him.

“That’s what you need around here, that you can look after your tyres. So at the end to have a 1-2 as a team as well, [it has been a] really, really good day for us.”