Helmut Marko claims Max Verstappen ‘distracted everyone’ with clever trick in Baku

Sergio Perez extends contract with Red Bull Racing until 2024

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Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has revealed that Max Verstappen pulled off a clever trick on his way to victory at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon. The Dutchman only started from third on the grid but ultimately managed to take the chequered flag after both Ferrari drivers were forced to retire with separate mechanical problems.

Carlos Sainz was hit with a hydraulic issue during the early stages of the 51-lap contest before pole-sitter Charles Leclerc, who was leading the race, followed suit with a power unit failure of his own. The situation allowed Verstappen to cruise home virtually unopposed, but Marko has since claimed that he still tried to push to the best of his ability despite being asked to hold back from setting fast laps during the closing stages of the race.

“He distracted everyone on the penultimate lap with his trick,” Marko told Austrian outlet Servus TV. “Max said he had a problem with the brakes, but then he drove a purple sector.”

The extra point for the fastest lap ultimately went to Sergio Perez, who pipped Verstappen by a slender margin of just 0.004 seconds. The latter’s all-important victory saw him stretch his advantage at the top of the Drivers’ Championship standings, though, to put himself in command in his bid to clinch a second individual title by the end of the year.

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He was undoubtedly helped by Leclerc’s untimely retirement in Baku, with the Ferrari man now over 30 points adrift of his Red Bull rival after failing to win any of the last five Grands Prix. However, Verstappen was adamant that he would have caught up with Leclerc if he had stayed in the race as a result of Red Bull’s advantage in terms of outright pace in Azerbaijan.

“I think today we had an incredible pace in the car,” he told reporters. “We could really look after the tyres and we could chip away at it, pass for the lead.

“But then, of course also, maybe a tiny bit lucky because with the retirement. But I think nevertheless, our car was really good today, so I could have closed that gap.

“Then of course you have a race on your hands. But overall, yeah, really, really happy with how the balance of the car was today.

“Just tyre behaviour together with just general grip of the car and that’s what you need around here, that you can look after your tyres. So at the end, to have a one-two as a team as well, it was a really good day for us.”

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