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Race Recap: Aston Martin's first Formula One podium after Baku thriller

Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One™ Team made history in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as Sebastian Vettel secured Aston Martin’s first-ever podium in the World Championship.

2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

It was another classic on the streets of Baku as the Azerbaijan capital city provided slipstreaming, drama, and a late twist in the Grand Prix.

While Lance Stroll missed out on the points in a crash that was not his fault, the team also scored its best points return of the 2021 campaign to date (18), building on the momentum of Monaco (14) last time out.

Sebastian

Sebastian was frustrated in qualifying on Saturday as an ill-timed red flag meant he was unable to fight for Q3, but he was still able to take advantage on Sunday.

Starting 11th on the grid, Sebastian had the benefit of a free tyre choice, and the team opted to bolt on a set of new Soft tyres, compared to the top 10's used compounds.

"Yesterday was challenging [due to the red flag in qualifying], but I was relaxed and confident going into the race," said Sebastian.

"The key was being able to start with a free choice of tyres in P11."

Race report

Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Get the full story from Baku and discover Sebastian's podium drive. Dive into the facts and figures behind the Azerbaijan Grand Prix and hear from the four-time World Champion, Lance and Otmar.

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Sebastian celebrates his Baku podium
Sebastian celebrates his Baku podium

It opened a potential strategy avenue because Sebastian could run a longer first stint with an eye on maximising the overcut.

At the start, Sebastian launched strongly off the line and went around the outside at Turn One, taking advantage of Lando Norris and Valtteri Bottas’s battling to clear them on the exit of the corner.

Running in ninth, Sebastian pressured Yuki Tsunoda, and the battle only briefly ended when the AlphaTauri pilot passed Fernando Alonso.

Alonso made an early stop on lap eight of 51, lifting Sebastian into eighth and back in range of Tsunoda.

When the pitstop window opened two laps later, the AlphaTauri driver was one of several cars ahead to stop, moving Sebastian into clean air to make the overcut viable.

Sebastian then began a four-lap stint in the lead and set a series of personal best lap times before pitting on lap 18 for new Hard tyres.

He returned to the track ahead of Tsunoda and into a net sixth place, as team-mate Lance circulated in fourth and off strategy.

Sebastian reeled in the fifth-placed Ferrari of Charles Leclerc and moved towards DRS range before the Safety Car arrived after Lance’s crash on the main straight.

After four laps under the Safety Car, Sebastian demonstrated his vast experience and wheel-to-wheel expertise.

As Leclerc and Gasly battled into Turn One on the restart, Sebastian closed in. Gasly locked up, forcing the Ferrari driver into backing out, and the four-time World Champion moved into fifth.

Gasly, who lost time because of the lock-up, couldn't prevent Sebastian from slipstreaming into fourth.

I am over the moon and P2 means a great deal to all of us. We did not expect to be on the podium, but we made great progress through the weekend.
Sebastian Vettel
2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Sebastian and third-placed Lewis Hamilton traded lap times late on as he moved within two seconds of the Mercedes driver.

But the fight for the podium places soon turned on its head as Max Verstappen crashed on the pitstraight, bringing out the red flag.

Benefitting from the red flag conditions, the team switched Sebastian to used Soft tyres for a two-lap sprint to the flag.

At the start, Sebastian threatened to pass Hamilton, who then overshot Turn One, which promoted Sebastian into second place. He would stretch the gap between the AMR21 and Gasly to protect second, crossing the line to make history.

"I am over the moon and P2 means a great deal to all of us," beamed Sebastian. :We did not expect to be on the podium, but we made great progress through the weekend, and the car had strong race pace.

"I felt good in the car, and combined with on-track events and strategy, we were able to get a really special result."

Lance

Lance and the team opted for a strategic gamble in which the Canadian was the only driver to start on the hard tyre, aiming to gain places on the road and overcut or take advantage of a Safety Car period for a free stop.

Lance was alert in a frantic start as Mick Schumacher touched wheels with the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One™ Team driver at Turn One.

Undeterred, Lance made up two places on the opening lap as he worked the Hard tyres up to temperature.

Several teams opted to gamble on an early stop which, combined with Lance's strong place, helped him gain six places in the opening four laps.

With the top 12 drivers running on the Soft tyre, Lance worked his way up to fourth as the pitstops unfolded.

He then fired in successive personal best lap times just past half-distance of the race to ensure his upcoming pitstop returned him to the track inside the top 10.

"We were on course to score good points by running much longer before the pit stops and overcutting a lot of cars," said Lance.

"That proved it was the right call to start on the hard tyres because we had good pace throughout the first stint and the race was coming to us."

It has been a challenging weekend for me, but there are positives to take, especially our race pace, and, of course, the podium for Sebastian. Huge congratulations to the whole team.
Lance Stroll
2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

But cruelly, a technical issue meant Lance crashed on the main straight, ending his race through no fault of his own.

While a tough result to take, Lance, like Sebastian, was able to demonstrate the improvements made in understanding the AMR21, particularly on race pace.

"I am frustrated not to finish the race, but I am OK," added Lance.

"I am not sure what happened to cause me to spin on the straight because there was no sign of any issues, so we need to investigate.

"It has been a challenging weekend for me, but there are positives to take, especially our race pace, and, of course, the podium for Sebastian. Huge congratulations to the whole team."

Round Five

Lance vs Sebastian

Exclusive interview

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