Formula 1

Baku Grand Prix

image from sky

Beautiful city. Unforgiving track. Practice and Qualifying took its toll on even the most veteran of drivers. 10th isn’t the best place to start when you’re trying to take back the points lead, Hamilton.

There was a mostly clean start–a few cars touched but no one completely taken out, thankfully. Rosberg got a good enough start to grab the lead and then slowly started building his gap on the rest of the field. Hamilton started making his way up to 8th once the DRS was enabled.

I was a little surprised to see so many drivers pit so early. Vettel sure didn’t want to on lap 10–going so far as to question his engineer telling him to come in. “Are you sure about this? Pace is good.” He ended up staying out, and Rosberg put together a 14 second gap. He finally came in on lap 21, and somehow Rosberg stayed out one lap longer.

That long straight seems eerily similar to a miniature Mulsanne at le Mans–was that on purpose or coincidence? Either way, passing there was impressive. Tons of it on the straight, going into the corner at the end, etc.

Ferrari team orders let Vettel come through to 2nd around lap 30. And at this point, it doesn’t bother me anymore. I used to find it frustrating that they don’t let their drivers race, but I guess I’ve given up and accept why they do it.

There were a lot of pissed off drivers on the radio this race–especially between Raikkonen and Hamilton. They both had issues with their cars and thanks to new rules, their engineers couldn’t help them fix settings on their cars. So many bleeps. I was costing Hamilton and we have to assume he figured it out because he started cranking out fast laps. Raikkonen didn’t have the same luck.

The big losers today were clearly the Red Bull boys. Those early first pit stops killed any chance they had of finishing on the podium–and Ricciardo started 2nd.

Rosberg easily took the win, followed by Vettel and Perez. Checo’s done well after going back to Force India–he didn’t rely on Kimi’s time penalty to take the position, he flat-out passed him. Maranello is watching. Hamilton settled for 5th–better than where he started, but gives a big gap in points back to Rosberg. And Rosberg, I’m sure you’ll never read this, but on the off-chance you do… from a native Texan, please never “yeehaw” again.

Overall, the track was impressive, the city was beautiful, and I was genuinely surprised there were no safety cars. It still shouldn’t be called the European GP, but I am all for Baku grabbing a permanent spot on the F1 calendar.

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