Ferrari was on the verge of victory at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix when an engine failure brought Charles Leclerc to a halt. World champion Max Verstappen benefited. Meanwhile, a very old Formula 1 record fell.

Formula 1 legend Michael Schumacher has lost another of his records. Thanks to his start in Baku on Sunday, Fernando Alonso is now the driver who has had the longest time between his debut and what is currently his last Formula 1 race. The Spaniard contested his first Grand Prix in Australia in March 2001, 7770 days ago at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The 40-year-old Alpine driver surpassed Schumacher’s previous record by seven days. The seven-time world champion completed his first Formula 1 race in August 1991 in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium. It was not until November 2012 at the Grand Prix in Brazil that Schumacher finally ended his dazzling career – 7763 days after his debut.

However, Schumacher’s former racing team Ferrari had completely different problems during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The Scuderia was on course for victory, but then experienced a total fiasco. That paved the way for Max Verstappen in the Red Bull to his fifth Formula 1 victory of the season. In this way, the world champion extended his lead in the world championship after Ferrari star Charles Leclerc had to give up as the front-runner with engine damage. Second, Sergio Pérez made the third Red Bull double win of the year perfect. They were followed by the Mercedes duo of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton, because Carlos Sainz in the second Ferrari also did not reach the finish line due to an early defect.

Ferrari star Leclerc: “It’s totally disappointing”

“It hurts. We have to look at it to learn from it. It’s totally disappointing. It’s hard to understand,” said Leclerc after the next major setback in the title race. A driving error in Imola, a broken engine in Barcelona and a strategy breakdown in Monaco had cost him many points recently. In the overall standings, Leclerc fell back to third place and is now 34 points behind Verstappen.

The Dutchman increased his tally to 150 points with a superior drive to his 25th win of his career. His team-mate Pérez is now 21 points behind in second.

Leclerc suffers from pole position curse

For the fourth time in a row, Leclerc had placed his Ferrari in first place. However, his pole positions hadn’t brought him any luck recently. Neither in Miami nor in Barcelona or Monaco could he convert the starting advantage into a win. And this time the lead was quickly gone. Buoyed by his triumph in Monte Carlo and the extension of his contract until 2024, Pérez overtook Leclerc before the first corner.

Verstappen also got off to a good start, but was no longer able to squeeze past his Ferrari rival. That’s how it went on the first rounds. Verstappen appeared in large format in Leclerc’s rear-view mirror several times, while Pérez managed a small cushion in front.

Sainz then caused the first turbulence. The fourth-placed Spaniard suddenly rolled out in his Ferrari. Diagnosis: hydraulic damage. The virtual safety car briefly slowed down the field for the clean-up work. Leclerc and some other drivers used this for a pit stop.

“The power is gone”

In contrast, both Red Bull fell by the wayside. Verstappen was allowed to get past Pérez without a fight so as not to lose too much time on Leclerc, who was rushing on with fresh tires. When both Red Bull drivers came to the garage for service, the Ferrari star took the lead.

The next drama for the Scuderia followed a little later: As in Barcelona, ​​smoke rose from Leclerc’s engine. Desperate, the 24-year-old radioed to the pits on lap 20: “The power is gone.” At a snail’s pace, Leclerc dragged himself back into the pit lane, climbed out of the car and waved at the audience with a sad expression. “I just can’t find the right words to describe it,” he confessed shortly afterwards on the Sky microphone. The way was finally clear for Red Bull’s next double success.

Vettel with the best result, Schumacher frustrating again

The eighth round of the season was hard work for veteran Vettel. Starting from ninth after a strong qualifying session, he was on his way up when he missed the corner during an overtaking manoeuvre. But Vettel kept fighting and used a bold tactic with just one early pit stop. That paid off in the end.

The working day was again frustrating for compatriot Mick Schumacher. As the last player after qualifying, the 23-year-old was hoping for some chaos in order to finally be able to capture his first championship points. He drove at the end of the field without a chance and was unable to counter the recent growing criticism after his series of accidents.