The Mexican claimed his first victory for Red Bull in dramatic circumstances during a bonkers race in Baku after teammate Max Verstappen crashed out five laps from the end due to a sudden tyre failure.

Perez charged up the order from sixth on the grid and overcut Hamilton’s Mercedes in the pits, before engaging in a relentless duel to keep the reigning world champion behind.

The only respite came during a red flag suspension in the aftermath of Verstappen’s incident, but Perez still had to keep his cool to win when the race restarted with a standing start for a two-lap sprint to the finish.

Perez also had to nurse a hydraulic issue on his car that almost forced him into retirement in the closing stages.

“I couldn't breathe,” Perez told Sky Sports F1 as he reflected on an intense race.

"I couldn't get to a rhythm to manage my tyres at all, I had to be flat out, flat out, lap after the other. It was pretty hard hard to keep Lewis behind.

"Also looking after the fuel, it was a pretty exhausting race.”

Hamilton got the better launch at the restart to sneak momentarily ahead of Perez, but the Briton went straight on at Turn 1 having made a rare error when he mistakenly hit the ‘magic button’ on his steering wheel that alters brake balance.

That enabled Perez to maintain his lead, and the Red Bull driver kept his composure to seal a hard-fought second victory in F1.

“It was our race to be lost, you know, because we were in the lead, there’s everything to lose,” Perez explained.

“Not much to win because we were on pole and we just have to do two laps. Getting that start right was a big things and I think we had pretty cold tyres for that restart.

“Lewis had a better one. I just tried to brake as late as possible. I was like “no way I’m losing this one”. I just tried to brake as late as possible. Lewis was on the inside line, the dirty line and yeah, unfortunate for him.

“It just shows how vulnerable we are all to mistakes. We are operating at such a high level lap after lap that these things can happen to anyone.”

 

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