Max Verstappen crashes out of Azerbaijan Grand Prix just four laps from race victory

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Championship leader Max Verstappen has crashed out from the lead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after a left rear tyre failure catapulted him into the wall.

Verstappen crashed at 200mph, hitting the wall on the start-finish straight, sliding to a halt. The Dutchman climbed out of the car, kicking his Red Bull with frustration, bringing out the red flag as the stricken car was removed from the track with just a handful of laps remaining.

The 23-year-old has never won in Baku, and was looking for back-to-back victories thanks to a win in Monaco, and was on course to take a maiden win after controlling much of the race.

The driver was looking to extend his lead to 14 points over Lewis Hamilton, after a relatively quiet Azerbaijan Grand Prix before the crash, with the race halted in the closing stages.

Hamilton, who started second on the grid, managed to get past the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc in the opening few laps, pitting on lap 12 for a set of hard tyres.

But disaster struck in the pits once again for Mercedes, with a slow stop of 4.6s as the seven-time world champions double-stacked their cars, with Bottas coming in behind, handing the lead to title rival Max Verstappen.

Mercedes tried to protect the undercut by pitting early, however, it didn’t work out for them due to a slow pit stop and struggling for pace on the hards, but it played right into Verstappen and Red Bulls hands.

But the championship leader hit the wall hard, fuming under his helmet after the failure saw him exit the race from the lead.

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Replays of the crash seemed to show to be a rear tyre failure, with red flags shown as debris remained strewn across the track, with the race red-flagged on Lap 49 of 51. 

Verstappen was heard shouting across the radio “***** tyre *****” as Horner was shown on the pit wall with his head in his hands.

Hamilton meanwhile, who inherited second place in the race after the crash, was heard asking: “Is it tyre wear, or a failure?” with clear concern over the radio for his own set of hards.

The message was followed up with: “Is he okay?”

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