Penalty for Leclerc in Canada? What you missed at the 2022 Azerbaijan GP


Red Bull made the logical decision to tell Perez not to fight Verstappen, Leclerc could have a grid penalty as soon as Canada, while Latifi ignored 12 blue flags before letting Gasly past

Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) brakes hard with smoke from his tyres as Max Verstappen (Red Bull-Honda) takes the least at the start of the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku. Photo: Grand Prix Photo

Leclerc concedes lead to Perez at first turn

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Luck could not have been more different for the two championship contenders at this year’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen extended his lead in the standings to 21 points in a Red Bull one-two, while Ferrari endured a double DNF in a disastrous weekend for the Scuderia.

Reliability is now quite a concern for the Italian outfit with two retirements for Charles Leclerc in three races, while other Ferrari-powered cars encountered problems on the weekend.

Despite their terrific start to the season which had Ferrari leading Red Bull by 49 points after three rounds, they now trail by 80 in what has been a huge championship swing since Melbourne.

With so much going on throughout the weekend, you may be forgiven for missing one or two storylines, so here is what might have gone under the radar at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Letting Verstappen pass Perez was the right thing to do

Max Verstappen leads Red Bull-Honda teammate Sergio Perez in the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku. Photo: Grand Prix Photo

Sergio Perez was also asked on two occasions to let his team-mate pass during the Spanish GP.

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It was the perfect start for Sergio Perez who managed to take the lead heading into Turn 1 on the opening lap.

And Perez just built on that terrific start with a two-second lead after five laps, until Verstappen picked up the pace and gained on his team-mate after taking P2 from Leclerc.

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On lap 15, he then made his move and took the lead at Turn 1, however after hearing team radio, fans were angered by the events.

Perez was told “no fighting” as Verstappen started to close but in hindsight, it was the correct thing to do.

The Dutchman was clearly the faster driver and that showed once he made the overtake by increasing his lead to a significant 3.2 seconds within one-lap.

And as Christian Horner pointed out, if Perez had tried to fight it, it could have been disastrous for the team – meaning what happened is not necessarily similar to Red Bull events in the past, like Barcelona.

“I think today wasn’t strictly team orders,” said Red Bull’s team principal. “It was just a question of you’ve got certainly a faster car and a slower car and Max had a significant pace advantage. Checo at that point was quite heavy graining on his rear tyre.”

“So it’s just a question of ‘guys, let’s not put each other against the pit wall here, if one car is quicker, concede, and let’s focus on getting the best result for the team’.”

A grid-penalty for Leclerc could come as soon as Canada

Charls Leclerc (Ferrari) leads Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honds) in the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku. Photo:

More pain for Leclerc in Montreal?

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The 2022 season is only eight rounds old, but with two retirements in the past three races – all power-unit related – Leclerc is going through new engines like there’s no tomorrow.

An entire new power-unit – his second of the season – was fitted to his car for Miami, but then he retired at the following race in Barcelona caused by a failure of the turbocharger and MGU-H.

This meant Ferrari had to give him his third turbo of the season for Baku but considering the retirement there, he will inevitably have a fourth one fitted which will incur a ten-place grid drop.

For the other components of the power-unit, Leclerc can still use one more before receiving a penalty, but Mattia Binotto confirmed he will need a new engine for this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.

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However, at the moment it is up in the air whether that means he will receive a grid-penalty as it depends on what Ferrari decide to do with his turbocharger.

“It is a concern,” said the Ferrari boss. “And even more a concern because I do not have the answer I would like right now as to what was the problem.

“We will need to fit another new engine, it’s a fact. It’s very early in the season. Sometimes the problems you may have are not short fixes, so I don’t know what will be the strategy we need to adopt.

“Is it shorter mileage or a different type of usage, or a short fix because what happened is a short-fix solution?

“It is something we will understand in the next days and hopefully we will have a clearer answer by the time we are in Canada.”


Sebastian Vettel could have challenged Lewis Hamilton for P4

Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin-Mercedes) in front of city wall during practice for the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku. Photo:

Vettel came home sixth – but it could have been more

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On the whole, Vettel had a great weekend finishing P6 after getting into Q3 during qualifying.

However, it could have been more for the Aston Martin driver had he not locked up at turn 3 after passing Esteban Ocon.

This meant he then had to use the escape road resulting in the loss of two positions, including to Hamilton who eventually finished fourth.

Considering Vettel was ahead at that point and showed strong pace, he perhaps should have finished higher up than sixth.

He said: “I thought maybe we could have battled with Hamilton, then I had my silly off, [and was] stuck behind Ocon for too long.”


Nicholas Latifi ignored 12 blue flags trying to give Pierre Gasly DRS

Nicholas Latifi at the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Sunday was quite disastrous for Latifi who was given two penalties, the second of which was for ignoring too many blue flags.

With Pierre Gasly hot on his tail, Latifi skipped 12 blue lights between Turn 7 and the start-finish line, which resulted in a five-second penalty and one penalty point on his super licence.

However, what you may have missed is his reasoning for that and it turns out Latifi was actually trying to help Gasly, who had Hamilton closing in on him for fourth.

He said: “I just basically wanted to give him (Gasly) the DRS, because if I let him by a few corners before then he was going to have no DRS and he was going to get penalised from Hamilton catching him up through that dirty air before.

“So I said ‘okay let me at least give him the DRS and try and negate whatever I held him up and he agreed. He said ‘yeah you did the right thing’.”