'This cannot happen': F1 world explodes over 'horrendous' drama

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·Sports Editor
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Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, pictured here crashing out late in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton both crashed out late in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Image: Getty

The Formula One world has been left in a state of disbelief after Sergio Perez won the Azerbaijan Grand Prix following late crashes from Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

Verstappen was cruising towards a second-straight victory on Sunday when an unexpected tyre failure turned the race into a two-lap shootout and a shock victory for Perez.

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The Dutch driver crashed out of the lead with just four laps remaining to bring out a red flag that set up the unconventional shootout from a standing start.

Hamilton then went off course trying to pass Perez for the lead, marking the first time since 2016 that the top two in the championship standings failed to score points.

That made for an unfamiliar podium as Perez, Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly all finished in the top three for the first time this year.

Australian star Daniel Ricciardo was ninth is his McLaren as his difficult F1 season continued, with teammate Lando Norris again outshining him to finish fifth.

However all the attention after the race was on the chaotic final laps, with Verstappen's tyre failure causing much concern for Red Bull and angering fans.

Verstappen had no warning his tyre was about to fail as he slammed into the wall. 

The Dutchman climbed from his car, inspected the tyre and kicked it in anger before stomping off in disgust over the race-changing failure.

"Sometimes you can hate this sport," Verstappen said after the race.

“I didn’t feel anything up until the moment that I suddenly went to the right, the tyre just blew off the rim and it’s not a nice impact to have, it’s quite a dangerous place to have a tyre blowout at that speed.

Max Verstappen, pictured here kicking his tyre after crashing out of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen kicks his tyre after crashing out of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

“For sure (there will be talks with Pirelli) but we know the result from that conversation already and that’s a bit hard to accept.

“It will be related to debris, it’s like that. I’m sure there will be talks, Pirelli isn’t happy with what happened here today, but it doesn’t change anything to the race and the result I got here.

“Of course I’m p***ed off because of what happened today. It was a fairly easy race for me."

Red Bull now have major concerns about the Pirelli tyres after a similar accident ended Lance Stroll's race earlier.

“It’s not acceptable, it’s not acceptable,” Sky Sports commentator Paul di Resta said of the tyre dramas. “That could be championship deciding.”

Fellow commentator David Croft added: “Pirelli have gone one step softer with the tyre compound for this year’s race. Have they gone too soft or is it just construction?”

Other pundits and fans were also left fuming, with Pirelli firmly in the firing line.

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Lewis Hamilton misses podium after blunder

Perez was the leader on the restart but Hamilton shot past him in his attempt to win the race and reclaim the points lead from Verstappen.

But he failed to brake in the first corner and his Mercedes slid off track. 

Hamilton dropped to 15th, snapping a streak of 54 consecutive races of earning a points position finish.

Hamilton said he accidentally flicked a switch which "basically switches the brakes off and I just went straight".

Four-time champion Vettel took second to give Aston Martin its first ever F1 podium in an an impressive drive after qualifying 11th.

Sebastian Vettel, Sergio Perez and Pierre Gasly, pictured here on the podium after the F1 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan.
Sebastian Vettel, Sergio Perez and Pierre Gasly celebrate on the podium after the F1 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan. (Photo by Maxim Shemetov - Pool/Getty Images)

It was his highest finish since 2019. Gasly was third for AlphaTauri.

It was the second career win for Perez, who is in his first season with Red Bull. 

It somewhat salvaged the race for the team that had been headed toward a 1-2 finish before Verstappen's tyre failed.

"I am so, so happy. First of all I have to say I am very sorry for Max because he had a tremendous race," Perez said.

"We were going to have a 1-2 together, but in the end it was still a fantastic day for us and luckily we were still able to finish the race."

Perez's second win ties him with Pedro Rodriguez for the most in F1 by a Mexican driver.

with AAP

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