Rosberg cruises to victory in forgettable Baku debut

2016 European Grand Prix review

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The ingredients were there for a cracking race.

F1’s newest circuit had proved remarkably fast for a street track. The two GP2 support races had been a frenzy of action, overtaking and incidents.

During the qualifying session Baku’s merciless walls had even caught out the world champion, and his trek to the front from tenth on the grid promised to be a major point of interest.

It seemed anything might happen. But very little did, and from pole position Nico Rosberg ran out an unchallenged winner.

Rosberg’s rivals compromised

Rosberg’s win never looked in doubt
All year long Mercedes’ performance advantage over its rivals has been slightly diminished from track to track. In Monaco they were even out-qualified in a straight fight.

But on this very different type of street track, Mercedes were streets ahead. Rosberg was over three-quarters of a second faster than the next-quickest car in qualifying.

Unusually, this was not a Ferrari or a Red Bull or even a Williams but Sergio Perez’s Force India. And a gearbox change penalty meant he could not take full advantage of his qualifying speed, and was bumped back to seventh. His team mate Nico Hulkenberg had failed to progress beyond Q2 after a spin and a communications mix-up.

So as the field assembled for the first Formula One race in Azerbaijan potentially the next three quickest cars on the grid after Rosberg were all starting outside the top three rows. In retrospect perhaps it should have been obvious he was going to walk away with this one, as he did.

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Red Bull hit tyre trouble

Red Bull chewed their tyres
The start was very orderly by the standards of F1 in 2016. Rosberg held his lead at turn one, moving off-line slightly to discourage second-placed Daniel Ricciardo from having a look, and that was the last anyone saw of him.

He was out of DRS range at the end of lap one and almost two seconds clear after three laps. The next time by his lead had almost doubled. Had Rosberg suddenly upped his pace? No: in fact he had already begun to take it easy, backing off by half a second. What had happened was Red Bull’s tyres had begun to go off.

“At the start we put ourselves in a good position and the aim was to get Nico, explained Ricciardo. “We managed to hold second and I felt pretty good in the first few laps, especially as I could see Seb [Vettel] wasn’t catching me.”

“After lap three we started to slide the rear and there was no way of controlling it. I went from being very optimistic about our race to being uncertain.”

His grip gone, Ricciardo was immediately devoured by Vettel and headed for the pits at the end of the fifth lap. Red Bull still intended to stick with the preferred strategy of pitting only once.

“I don’t think we had the wrong strategy,” reflected Ricciardo, “one stop would have been ideal but we had to adapt and were forced into a two-stop race”. The reason for this was once he bolted the soft tyres on the problem didn’t go away. Max Verstappen had the same problem and had already made his first it stop the lap before.

Vettel stays out

Raikkonen let Vettel past
Ferrari were also of a mind to pit early, bringing Kimi Raikkonen in on lap eight and preparing to do the same for Vettel. But when he was told to come in Vettel, no doubt remembering his ill-fated early stop in Canada, queried the call and decided to stay out.

“I had a decent feeling,” Vettel explained afterwards, “the pace was quite OK, I thought, and then we decided to stay out so I was asking the team to stay out, the tyres felt OK and I wanted to keep going.”

Ferrari’s plan had been to cover off from the threat of Ricciardo, but Vettel’s decision meant he stood to lose out to his team mate who would ‘undercut’ him with an earlier stop. When Vettel finally came in on lap 20 he rejoined behind Raikkonen, who had briefly been the quickest driver on the track as Rosberg and Vettel continued to nurse their original sets of tyres.

By now the complexion of the race had changed, however. Raikkonen had strayed across the pit lane entry line using all four wheels, something drivers had been specifically forbidden from doing due to safety concerns at this very quick point on the track. He was handed a five-second time penalty (and points on his licence).

Vettel was immediately in the order of half a second or more faster than Raikkonen. When he caught his team mate the Ferrari pit wall ushered Raikkonen aside. As he made way he pointedly remarked that Vettel better have the pace to pull away. The next time around Vettel was over a second faster than him.

Engine settings vex Hamilton

Hamilton’s frustration was clear on the radio
But what about Hamilton? The world champion hadn’t been able to progress as quickly as expected. He drove a cautious first lap and came around still in the tenth position he started from. Complicating matters was the fact Valtteri Bottas had been passed by Verstappen and was now running in front of the Hamilton. The slippery FW38 had used the same Mercedes power unit to hit a massive 378kph (234.9mph) in qualifying and was one of few cars in the race Hamilton could not expect to pass with ease.

The pair got past Daniil Kvyat and Verstappen and by lap ten were running fourth and fifth. Hamilton had now fallen 23 seconds behind Rosberg, however, so even when he finally made a move stick on Bottas his prospects of getting back in the hunt for victory now rested on a Safety Car deployment. But while the GP2 races had seen a total of seven, the grand prix passed without interruption.

Hamilton soon had another problem to contend with. His lap 15 pit stop put him on a set of soft tyres to the end of the race and he soon regained the fifth position he had been running in. But around this time he began to experience a loss of power from his engine.

“There was a configuration related to the management of Hybrid energy which unfortunately was not correctly tuned during our race preparations,” Mercedes’s executive director for technical Paddy Lowe.

“What this caused was premature de-rates down the straight, costing the driver around three to four tenths of a second per lap. It was only present when the driver selected a specific strategy mode on the steering wheel, with the other modes unaffected.”

Hamilton at first urged his team to investigate the performance-sapping de-rates, urging them to “pick up the pace” to find a solution. However the new restrictions introduced this year forbid teams from advising their drivers on how to optimise their car’s settings.

“Can I make a suggestion and you say if it’s OK or not?” Hamilton asked. “No that’s not allowed,” race engineer Peter Bonnington told him. “Unfortunately for Lewis, it took around 15 laps to rectify the problem,” said Lowe.

Team boss Toto Wolff said the problem Hamilton had was “unusual and counter-intuitive” and there was “no way Lewis could know what to change to solve it”.

Hamilton later said the fault “fixed itself” and that he “didn’t do anything”, although it was clear from his onboard camera he spent several laps cycling through different possible settings. Team mate Nico Rosberg also experienced a similar problem.

“Eventually [Hamilton] managed to find the right solution,” Wolff explained, “as Nico had done several laps earlier, having switched into the mode causing the problem part way through the race”. But by the time Hamilton was back to full power the next car ahead was too far up the road, so he immediately backed off to save his engine.

“Pretty uneventful”

DRS decided most changes of position
Ahead of Hamilton lay the Force India of Sergio Perez. He had gained two places at the start by positioning his VJM09 perfectly to take advantage of the scrap between Felipe Massa and Daniil Kvyat.

Red Bull’s demise had put him in pursuit of the Ferraris and now Raikkonen’s time penalty meant he only had to get within five seconds of his rival to ‘pass’ him. This he did on lap 28 when Raikkonen backed off to let Vettel though.

“In the moment I let him pass I lost 2.5 seconds in that lap and this did not help,” said Raikkonen. Perez passed him anyway on the final tour. “I could have for sure stayed in front of Perez but there was no reason to fight and maybe take some risks,” the Ferrari driver added.

Perez’s pass, like every other caught by the television cameras, had the unremarkable inevitability of every pass which takes place with DRS. Every DRS zone is in unnecessary, but at Baku the two consecutive zones triggered by a single activation point ensured any overtaking was accomplished with the minimum of drama.

The most joyous moment of racing throughout the whole weekend came when GP2 driver Antonio Giovinazzi, his DRS broken, nonetheless forced past his team mate to win Sunday morning’s race.

Many had hoped for similar drama in the F1 race but it wasn’t to be. “Today was a bit unexpected,” said Ricciardo afterwards. “I got everyone’s hopes up yesterday by saying it could be the race of the season, It was, however, pretty uneventful.”

This was quite an understatement.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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79 comments on “Rosberg cruises to victory in forgettable Baku debut”

  1. DRS… DRS… and DRS… They try to create the fastest street circuit in the world, with the longest flat out section seen probably since Indianapolis left the calendar, and they put not one, but two DRS zones? with only 1 activation point Outrageous… and it showed.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      20th June 2016, 14:07

      I can’t understand the idea of 1 activation point. It makes absolutely no sense to have someone given a really easy overtake followed by an extra boost to pull away.

      I think Baku could be a good track for a series without gimmicks though – the GP2 race was great (mainly because there were so many yellows, DRS was almost constantly disabled!)

      1. the Baku track is good, butf1 fails to show any track as being good. a decent “spec” series would show off the baku track better. f1 sucks on every track it goes to these days, and only gimmicks like drs savet he day for F1 – even though we all hate those gimmicks – without those gimmicks f1 would be far worse then how bad it already is as a “competitive” race series.

  2. PMccarthy_is_a_legend (@pmccarthy_is_a_legend)
    19th June 2016, 22:39

    Yes what an outrage!!!!! I am completely and utterly disgusted at this oversight, i would like to have a word with the manager please.

  3. The DRS should have been on the back straight only, with the detection point between the first and second corners. If there’s going to be one one the home straight it needed to be shorter by 100m or so.

    All in all I think the castle section, nice as it is for photo opportunities, needs a rethink as it broke up the pack too much when they all had to meander single file through the old town

  4. I’m looking forward to Baku in the new F1 game, it seems like it would be a fun little track to “drive”. Rosberg’s walk aside, qualifying yesterday was probably the most intriguing session in recent memory as every driver is pushing right to the limit and a couple of centimetres makes up the difference between a potential pole lap and red flagging the session. There was legitimate tension in that session for both fans and drivers and it made for a great hour.

    Turn to the race and there’s… nothing. You knew whether an overtake was going to happen 21 seconds before it did, there was hardly any chance to defend, and when someone was overtaken it’s not like they can actually battle back since the overtaking (and now leading) car very likely has DRS again.

    A fine track for hot-lapping, a terrible track for racing. If it never appears in F1 again, then that’s one less totalitarian dictator in the cooldown room.

  5. They really needed to break up that final straight with a chicane or something – otherwise it’s a haven for the kind of highway passing DRS (Disastrous Racing System) promotes.

  6. Matt (@castlebravo)
    19th June 2016, 23:29

    Just a few things. Did anyone else notice the driver who had just completed a pass utilizing DRS after he was in the lead and not within 1 second of another car? Forgive my ignorance if there is some rule about being able to use DRS whenever.

    Finally since overtaking was quite easy here (especially for the Mercedes powered cars) why did Lewis only make it to 5th? Even if Hamilton was losing three tenths a lap to his engine issues that only equates to 4.5s over the 15 laps he was experiencing problems. And still he finished 23 seconds behind Kimi who was also having issues towards the end of the race.

    I hear all the time how much “better” he is than Rosberg, but whenever he does poorly Rosberg only won because Hamilton was unlucky. My personal favorite is the age old temper tantrum “Overtaking is incredibly difficult on (insert track here).” On top of that, the guy was complaining about this circuit earlier this week, then he makes some stupid remark about other drivers “moaning” about Baku. There is a sort of cognitive dissonance surrounding him that I find quite off-putting.

    I get that the guy is good, but he has more of a cult of personality surrounding him than Kim Jong Un. It will be nice if Nico can finish what he has started so that all the Hamilton fans will need to reconcile why he was beaten in the WDC by an “inferior” driver.

    Finally, were people seriously rooting for Safety Car-nage at this race? Considering the concrete barriers I am extremely happy we didn’t see any major incidents.

    1. I didn’t understand your first point, but on the rest I’m with you. I hate when mistakes, accidents, confusion, affect too much a race.

    2. Adam Blumenthal
      20th June 2016, 2:24

      If you read Lewis’ full quote about the other drivers ‘moaning’ it was in reference to the bumpiness of the track. These guys (except maybe Button) have world class attitudes to match their world class driving skills.

    3. @castlebravo Because there’s only 1 DRS detection zone so even if the driver already overtake during 1st DRS zone, he still entitled to deploy DRS on 2nd DRS zone. This is quite an oversight IMO because a 2nd detection zone between turn 1 and 2 could potentially make a better fight.

      One of the reason Hamilton only managed to get 5th is he stuck behind another Mercedes powered cars (Bottas and Perez). To be fair, Perez is really fast and not hindering him too much though. Also while the setting problem might cost him three tenths of the lap, splitting his concentration to switching various setting cost him over 1.5s on some lap, and he back down at the end after its almost impossible to catch Perez and Raikkonen, so the 23 seconds is larger than it could been. Not defending Hamilton here, just stating my observation.

      Aside from free practice, Rosberg is better driver this weekend than Hamilton. I don’t think anyone but the blind fanboys dispute this.

      And yeah, I agree about safety cars. It’s ridiculous people who complain about the “lack” of safety wanting the drivers crashing or having an accident which put them in more risk than the lack of halo or aeroscreen during a race.

      1. Matt (@castlebravo)
        21st June 2016, 3:01

        @sonicslv thanks for clearing that up for me. I appreciate that as well as showing something I didn’t think of (split concentration on top of the actual performance problems).

    4. @castlebravo the reason drivers were able to utilise DRS on the back straight (between turns 2 and 3) even though they already made a pass on the pit straight, is that there was only one detection point (before the first zone on the run to turn 1). So if you were behind coming out of the last corner, you got DRS for both zones.

      They really should have had two detection points – why not I have no idea.

    5. – I get that the guy is good, but he has more of a cult of personality surrounding him than Kim Jong Un. It will be nice if Nico can finish what he has started so that all the Hamilton fans will need to reconcile why he was beaten in the WDC by an “inferior” driver.

      Ok, let me get this. So if Nico wins this WDC, he is suddenly better than Lewis who has beaten him twice in WDC?
      You must be very smart.
      Let me help you. If Nico wins, that means for now, he is only half as good as Lewis in championship standings. If he wins again, that means he would have equaled Lewis in WDC but maybe not in number of race wins, poles, etc.
      If there are people who use the term “inferior” to describe Nico, isn’t that a lot more restrained in comparison to the unprintable filth that the likes of you keep trolling Lewis Hamilton daily with? Here we have a story about the Baku race and all you can do is to drag your dislike of Lewis into it. See, I am not a fan of Nico but I don’t make him my problem. I don’t wish him misfortune of any kind but that cannot be said of the likes of you. Do you ever question why the lot of you go out of your way to find and disparage every statement the man makes no matter the issue, what he does or wears or who he hangs out with? Clearly people who support Hamilton don’t attack other drivers in such appalling manner.
      Anyway, back to your issue with the championship, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. The championship is not yet over. We have seen how quickly fortune and points haulage can swing in a few short weekends. And if at the end of the year Nico wins, he deserves to be congratulated.

      1. Matt (@castlebravo)
        21st June 2016, 3:28

        @tata Wow. See this is what I was talking about with the “cult of personality” where any criticism of Hamilton is swiftly attacked because he is elevated to godlike status in the eyes of fanboys. I didn’t say that he is a bad driver, I said that I get that he is good man.

        And by your logic wouldn’t that mean that Sebastian Vettel is “better” than Hamilton because he has beaten Lewis in the WDC 4 times to Hamilton’s 3? Look, I haven’t said any “filth” about Hamilton. My criticism is completely constrained to how folks perceive Hamilton and Rosberg, how when one is aggressive defending it is “killer instinct” and when the other is aggressive at defending it is an illegal and dangerous move. I couldn’t care less about what he wears or who he keeps company with or how late he stays out at night. And since when do I wish Hamilton misfortune?

        I guess it all comes down to this. All of the “bad” things you attribute to “the likes of [me]” are things I have never said. I was merely commenting on the blind loyalty and rabid, vocal defense of Hamilton to even legitimate criticism. You on the other hand seem to fit in with the members of this cult of personality that I mentioned, so I can see why your feathers got ruffled.

    6. – I get that the guy is good, but he has more of a cult of personality surrounding him than Kim Jong Un. It will be nice if Nico can finish what he has started so that all the Hamilton fans will need to reconcile why he was beaten in the WDC by an “inferior” driver.

      Ok, let me get this. So if Nico wins this WDC, he is suddenly better than Lewis who has beaten him twice in WDC?
      You must be very smart.
      Let me help you. If Nico wins, that means for now, he is only half as good as Lewis in championship standings. If he wins again, that means he would have equaled Lewis in WDC but maybe not in number of race wins, poles, etc.
      If there are people who use the term “inferior” to describe Nico, isn’t that a lot more restrained in comparison to the unprintable words that the likes of you fling daily at Lewis Hamilton? Here we have a story about the Baku race and all you can do is to drag your dislike of Lewis into it. See, I am not a fan of Nico but I don’t make him my problem. I don’t wish him misfortune of any kind but that cannot be said of the likes of you. Do you ever question why the lot of you go out of your way to find and disparage every statement the man makes no matter the issue, what he does or wears or who he hangs out with? Clearly people who support Hamilton don’t attack other drivers in such appalling manner.
      Anyway, back to your issue with the championship, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. The championship is not yet over. We have seen how quickly fortune and points haulage can swing in a few short weekends. And if at the end of the year Nico wins, he deserves to be congratulated.

    7. @castlebravo You have two “Finally”‘s in your post.

      Finally, does that make you quicker than me?

      1. Matt (@castlebravo)
        21st June 2016, 2:54

        Finally! Such tired. I am slower actually.

    8. First, Rosberg is an underrated driver– people ignore the fact that Schumacher was supposed to wipe the floor with him, but Rosberg was pretty much on level with Schumacher for three years at Mercedes (slightly faster in qualifying, equal in race, but Schumacher had terrible luck with his car). Yes, I know it wasn’t the same take-no-prisoners, back-stabbing, win-at-all-costs Schumie who racked up 7 world titles, but he was still a formidable driver– and the only reason it seemed less than that was that the Mercedes wasn’t a very good car at the time, and Rosberg was much better than anyone thought.

      I seriously believe Rosberg would be a one, or two-time WDC if anyone else besides Hamilton was in the other car in 2014 and 2015. Not because Hamilton is the greatest driver on the grid, but because he and Rosberg have been racing each other for most of their lives. I do think Hamilton is just a hair better at qualifying and much better at overtaking, but they have very similar race pace.

      Hamilton is a very, very good driver, in spite of the effort that a number of fans put into minimizing his accomplishments.

    9. petebaldwin (@)
      20th June 2016, 14:11

      The Mercedes aren’t designed to race – they are designed to dominate in clear air. That’s why they always struggle in traffic. Vettel used to be the same – remember Abu Dhabi 2012 when he changed his setup to allow him to overtake instead of cruising around out front?

    10. You appear not to like HAM much which is fine, but not rating him as a driver is hardly justifiable. His driving ability is good enough to draw praise from peers and other experts. While his personality rubs many the wrong way, most are fair-minded enough to recognise the driving skills he has demonstrated to title-winning effect in all categories in which he has competed. Please try suspending your seeming repulsion at his very existence for long enough to acknowledge his proven ability. In 23+ years of racing, he has done more than enough to prove his ability. In conclusion, race pace, though attractive for its high level of objectivity, is not a very useful comparison criterion in racing. In technical terms, there isn’t much separating the top drivers in the pinnacle of motorsport, but the track record of these particular team mates shows HAM to be the better racer regardless of the category in which they have been paired. On a day when both are handed a technically sound car, HAM will beat ROS much more often than not.

      1. Matt (@castlebravo)
        21st June 2016, 3:55

        Criticism =/= Hatred. I am not repulsed by his existence and I have acknowledged that he is a good driver. I am repulsed by his attitude, comments, temper tantrums, and his rabid unreasonable fan base. He has “proven” himself in more ways than one. Sure he won 3 WDCs. Great. He still complains an awful lot for a guy who gets paid millions of dollars to drive a race car. And please show me this vacuum where both drivers are handed an identical, technically sound car. Until then there are far too many variables to make statements like HAM will beat ROS much more often than not. They are both great drivers driving for a team that makes a dominant racing machine. That is really all that needs to be said.

  7. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
    19th June 2016, 23:38

    Highlight of the race for me was Jenson moving up to 11th. Was an anti climax overall though after the promise of an exciting race. It was a shame to see Ricciardo struggle with tyres, I’d have looked to see him win especially after the last few difficult results he has had. To be honest I found it entertaining seeing Hamilton struggle after the back handed compliments and moans he directs at others.

    1. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
      19th June 2016, 23:39

      Also was hilarious seeing Nico hit himself in the face with his ear piece. Bit of a “You’ve been Framed” moment :)

    2. And a real downer to see and hear Alonso when told he had to retire from the race…

    3. I was expecting smash and safety cars but would have felt the anti-climax if any of the big boys had been taken out on the first lap. The race when Vettel was shunted into the wall was a let down for me, the Mercs taking each other out must have been the same for LH/NR fans.

      The danger of those unforgiving walls kept them on their best behaviour this time. I admire the skill with which they get those cars round at 200mph within mills of disaster.

  8. Without Brundle here to keep Croft and Ted in check, the SkyF1 coverage is honestly reaching new and unbearable levels of Hamilton fanaticism.

    1. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
      19th June 2016, 23:41

      Agreed. They were making as many excuses as they could for him during quail and the race. Makes for awkward TV.

      1. @peppermint-lemon I think you mean that it makes for unbearable TV. For me, they were far worse than anything else to do with race.

      2. May explain why many in the UK have a rather skewed view.

    2. Completely agree. “Crofty” is simply unbearable, with his screaming and histrionics every time someone executes a routine DRS pass or pulls left or right in a breaking zone to “have a look”.

  9. 378 km/h, if I’m not mistaken, is the highest speed ever recorded in a F1 session. Absolutely crazy to see such speeds at a city track. That escape route at turn 1 doesn’t seem particularly long either.
    If I recall correctly, the previous record was ~370 at Monza held by McLaren or Williams circa 2002-2004. We came close to that in Monza and Mexico last year. With those two tracks still having yet to host their race in 2016, we might see this record fall again.

    1. Fikri Harish (@)
      20th June 2016, 0:04

      I think Williams held that record, but I’m not completely sure.
      Their BMW V10 was a beast back then.

    2. @johnbeak @fihar it was Raikkonen in the 2005 McLaren at Monza. +370 kph I believe!

      1. Arnoud van Houwelingen
        20th June 2016, 10:22

        No it was Montoya who had the topspeed in Monza in 2004

    3. who got that speed?????

    4. Top speed during the race was 340.8 km/h.

      1. Yeah, at the speed trap that, not at the end of the straight.

  10. I probably speak for a lot of people when I say I expected more from the race today. In terms of competition at the front, in terms of surprises, and overall drama. But this is my favourite addition to the calendar in a fair while. Rarely does the mere sight of an F1 car going round a track entertain me these days, but there are a few distinctive and really nail biting moments during the lap here and I actually felt wowed by what I saw from man and machine. It’s only really Suzuka and Spa which usually come close to doing that.

    1. Agreed, the cars were visually awesome at several points on the track. The camera angles on the final kinks leading onto the pit straight were brilliant, but I really wish we could have something other than the long, lingering front-on shot of the cars approaching the start/finish line. Completely ruins the sense of speed, and makes 220mph looks more like 40. The cars should look like missiles blitzing down the pit straight, and with that angle they just don’t.

      Would have been great to see some quick panning shots, or overhead tracking of the cars there.

    2. I have to agree. It’s a very attractive track and looked great. There are a lot of complaints, but I thought the first third of the race was more exciting than the majority of races in the last couple of years. It was just that once things had settled down by the second half nothing much happened.

  11. The Skeptic
    19th June 2016, 23:59

    The race was defined by non-racing rules:

    1) Perez demoted due to gearbox rule, which ruined his chance to challenge
    2) Hamilton unable to get any advice on car settings, which ruined his recovery from 10th
    3) Hamilton going slowly after getting power back to avoid engine penalties in future races
    4) DRS which makes overtaking trivial on a long straight
    5) Railkonnen effectively eliminated from contention for simply driving on the straight.
    6) Fuel and tyre limits causing everyone to cruise in the middle of the race.

    It’s almost as though they WANT boring races!

    1. You might sound a bit crazy but you’re not the only one who at least sometimes thinks the f1 rules are made to have boring races on purpose, if you consider modern f1 is racing to begin with. The points you have listed are prime examples.
      I think it’s obvious that as long as f1 cars depend a lot on downforce for laptime it will be very difficult to follow another car and overtake, especially with downforce that is sensitive to dirty air coming off the car in front (maybe there’s less sensitive types – downforce from the floor/ ground effect has been mentioned but i’m not an aerodynamicist so it’s just my opinion).
      My theory is that at least one of the reasons why that hasn’t been addressed is because the top teams want it that way. I suspect that even the best team can make a bad chassis once in a while. If the difference between a fast and a slow car was only the amount of mechanical grip it had and how much more or less powerful its engine was then a midfield or sometimes even a tailender could occasionally embarrass a front running team. The bigger and more funded the team, the more they have invested in wind tunnels and having an army of engineers/ aerodynamicists. And the return on investment is usually consistent – the more money you spend the more performance you get.
      I believe that tendency protects the top teams (rich teams) from the smaller ones. And since Ferrari has a veto when it comes to most regulation in f1 and teams like Red Bull and Mercedes can have a lot of influence as well, those rules are unlikely to change.
      Also as weird as it sounds it might be in the interest of some people who run f1 that the show is not very good at the moment. What i mean by that is imagine you’re CVC. Would it be easier to sell your stake if you could say: Look how much money it’s making and the rules are really bad, the racing is crap. Imagine how much more you could earn if you changed the rules and improved the racing?

      1. +1

        Those points sounds so valid, obviously several negative things going on in the background that we fans will never know about. What a shame !

    2. digitalrurouni
      20th June 2016, 14:16

      COTD for me. The whole crap of getting a penalty to replace a gearbox – fine that works if it is indeed a mechanical failure without anything being done to it. But if there’s an accident why in the name of zeus’s butthole does that rule still apply?

      1. Yes but this would lead to teams asking their drivers to deliberately crash into something or someone. No amount of data can prove if a crash if fake or real. I don’t want to see anymore crash gate races.

  12. Mark from Toronto
    20th June 2016, 0:40

    I think most observers know what Mercedes did to re balance the points standings and reward Nico for being a team player while punishing Hamilton for his bad behavior in Montreal. Toto is so smart…well done.

    1. Conspiracy anyone?

      Oh dear… ;o)

    2. It wasn’t Mercedes that made Hamilton hit the wall in qualifying…

      1. How do you know? What if Mercedes has a data link to the car which allows them to actuate sensors that operate the steering, brakes and throttle?

    3. ColdFly F1 (@)
      20th June 2016, 9:49

      Toto is so smart…

      He even induces Hamilton to miss a turn in Q2 and crash in Q3 ;o)

    4. Seriously, do people like you exist?

      1. There have been people posting this weekend that Hamilton couldn’t fix his car because he didn’t read the Mercedes Haynes Manuel, so nothing surprises me anymore

        1. I was intrigued to hear that so I did a quick search for ‘Haynes’ and found no one has made that comment here this weekend.

          1. Thats funny

            I thought it’d be obvious i was exaggerating, since it would be hilarious if Mercedes actually presented both drivers with a real 2000 page working manual of their Power Unit and its controls, how it works and how to maintain it.

            It was a response to the people who keep bringing up this ‘Hamilton didnt read the Mercedes manual’. As if: A/ there is actually a manual, and B/ Hamilton stated he hasn’t bothered reading it, while Rosberg knows it cover to cover.

            I thought my joke was as ridiculous as the claim. I guess not.

          2. The manual brand was not mentioned, but it was ‘EC’ commenting on ‘Rosberg had engine switch problem like Hamilton’.

  13. I think what happened in GP2 spooked the drivers and teams and led to more cautious driving, in which nobody took any real risks. This plus DRS made for an underwhelming race, but I am going to be optimistic and say Baku will produce better races. Valencia, Abu Dhabi, Sochi, these are tracks in which drivers can go full on and still stay in a stuck processional races, Baku seems different.

    1. Agree with your assessment of Baku and look forward to better races in future

  14. It felt like a GP3 track with extra DRS zones to make it look more grown-up. It was exciting when it was novel, but F1 drivers are fast learners and by the start of the race, they’d learned enough to (mostly) know what they needed to do. They did it, with predictable consequences.

    That said, it led to one moment of hilarity, with the Sky commentators exaggeratedly hyping up the Ferrari car swap as if it was the most exciting overtake in the history of motor sport. It sounded like they were as bored as I was (even if, as a Force India supporter, I am delighted at the result).

    1. (I should probably add that the Sky commentators did the hyping-up in a way that made it very obvious they were being sarcastic…)

    2. Considering that they couldn’t tell Checo from Hulk and mentioned that Kimi passed Checo when they were together after his first stop, leads me to believe they thought it was a genuine overtake.

      Either way, have to look for a new feed. I can almost hear them crying when Hamilton wasn’t getting the help from his team.


  15. I think the on track action has been pretty well covered, the race was dull, and that’s being kind. I just want to say also that the off-track shenanigans were equally depressing.

    What kind of host needs to congratulate itself by having a “well done” banner on the podium? Not congratulating the drivers or thanking the fans for coming out, but congratulating itself.

    Also they hired a LOT of people to hold/wave flags (who looked mighty depressed by the way, not holding/waving their flag because they love their country as most flag wavers at F1 you would normally see are) all over the place.

    I’d just love to see how their instructions were handed out: “You will stand here, and you will wave this flag because, because you love your country. And if you don’t, you will never see your family again.”

    1. This was a classic ‘Monaco’, just at higher speeds.

  16. FailureIsOption
    20th June 2016, 3:28

    Ferrari should have swapped Raikkonen and Vettel, and instructed Vettel to let Kimi gap him by 4.99 seconds while blocking Perez. Thus getting a 2nd and 3rd place finish instead of 2nd and 4th.

    1. ColdFly F1 (@)
      20th June 2016, 9:51

      You’re hired!

      1. @coldfly obviously, not by Ferrari. Too much logic.

  17. when nico was first interviewed he said he had 0 issues during the race,,,then all of a sudden he changed his story.

    also we are always told nico had the same issue as lewis after lewis has issues,its been happening all season.i find that very hard to believe.

    1. Why is it hard to believe it? They have the same car, so it is quite likely that they have similar issues. This is especially true for engine mode problems as the engine modes are preconfigured before the race.

      As Mercedes said, Rosberg was simply lucky as he switched on the wrong mode himself and immediately recognised that it was causing problems so he switched back to the correct one. Hamilton had no such luck as the engine mode was selected by the team before the race start.

      I do not think that the explanation given makes Rosberg better than he is. If they wanted to make Rosberg look better it would make sense to find excuses when he has a bad race (as in Monaco for example) rather than when he wins.

      1. Lewis had issues with the layout of the circuit before he even had a decent lap on it, then he moans about his colleagues having issues with the layout of the circuit after Fridays running and finally he moans about the dangerous layout of the circuit so he can change his tyre he flat-spotted during qualifying. It is like a pendulum swinging from left to right and vice versa.

        Of course he was allowed to change his flat-spotted tyre by the biased steward from the UK.
        A lot of drivers have flat-spots on their tyres after qualifying, but apparently their case is not as strong as the case of Lewis when he starts to moan. They simply have to deal with it during the race and accept an early pit stop to change the tyres or start from the pit lane if they think the risks are too high.
        So why not didn’t the steward imposed Lewis to start from the pit lane?
        Because it was his fault only he ruined the tyres during Q2 and he ruined the qualifying session in Q3 for his colleagues as well by parking his car in the walls in Q3.
        That would be a clear signal to anyone going over the limit during qualifying in Q2 and Q3.
        Now it is a matter of time that it becomes part of the qualifying strategy, to do a quick lap in Q2 and then ruin your tyres in the next lap and start moaning about the risks attached having a flat-spotted tyre.

        It looks like that he lacks the guiding support of his engineers during the races to be as dominant as he used to be in 2014 and the beginning of 2015. He won 2 races of the last 11 races and only because the Red Bull team screwed up a pit stop in Monaco and the Ferrari screwed up their pit stop strategy in Canada.
        Since the start procedure has been changed, Lewis has issues with the start procedure as well.
        At a couple of races he has been outwitted at the start by Rosberg, Vettel and others, or tried to hold his position by simply bullying his teammate..
        So it is no wild guess that without his engineers making life easy for him, he has serious issues to pull off a good start too.
        So I predict, when he starts moaning about the start procedure being too dangerous is just a matter of time.

    2. I guess to Rosberg it was the equivalent of going to a double light switch to turn a light off, pressing the wrong one to begin with, and immediately knowing and changing back. You wouldn’t see that as an issue. To Hamilton, it was as if someone else suddenly switched the light off without him knowing, and then having to fumble around in the dark to try and find a switch to turn it back on again.

      The way it happened to Hamilton is a huge issue. The way it occured for Rosberg was a minor inconvenience that didn’t affect anything (possibly lost a couple of tenths at most).

      1. Rather than trying to make Rosberg look better, I have a suspicion that Mercedes are trying to cover for Lewis not knowing how to solve the problem. The reason for my suspicions are based on comments such as Mercedes saying that his engine mode was selected by the team before the race.

        In Keiths article above:
        “His lap 15 pit stop put him on a set of soft tyres to the end of the race and he soon regained the fifth position he had been running in. But around this time he began to experience a loss of power from his engine.”

        Does this mean we are to believe that from the start all the way to lap 15+ (including a pitstop) Lewis didn’t change his engine mode at all?

        Perhaps I have misinterpreted Mercedes explanation.

  18. In the aftermath of the race,Toto Wolff has said Lewis lost 2.5 seconds in the twelve laps he was struggling with the switches and his steering wheel.
    So was it a huge issue?
    After Lewis solved the riddle he had plenty of time to catch up with the guys in front of him, but simply lacked the pace or just didn’t want to upgrade the pace, Toto claimed.
    Maybe he was saving his engine, not knowing wat the cause of the problem was, according to Toto.
    But only Lewis can solve this new riddle…

    1. “Maybe he was saving his engine”

      Lewis himself said as much after the race, he had around 12 laps to go and about 15+ seconds to make up just to catch Perez, and that’s presuming Perez couldn’t up his pace once he saw Lewis catching, which in fact he did in couple of laps where Lewis did pick up his pace once the problem solved itself. Lewis said, knowing hes down on PU components for the rest of the year, he decided to back off and save what he has.

    2. @auria

      Maybe he was saving his engine

      As it says in the article, he was.

  19. Baku 2016 was a memorable race for me, but that was mainly down to the raw speed, camera angles, and the interesting views. I also thought the passes down the main straight were reasonably good, due to the incredible speed.

    Whilst the race was no Canada 2010 or Suzuka 2005 … I have seen far worse :-)

  20. Did anyone else find the “BAKU WELCOMED ALL OF US” signs were a little sinister? Sounds like the words of a hostage with a gun to their back.

  21. the Baku track is memorable, but not the 2016 race. the way f1 is, without safety cars and driver mistakes, and only 1 stop strategy, then EVERY racetrack is boring. the track was actually one of the most interesting of the past decade.

  22. To sum it up, it was forgettable because subject A, Ricciardo went backwards, subject B no one died, subject C Ros won, subject D DRS is used in every track. From my perspective it was just as good as most races this season.

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