Baku’s first race ranked among the worst since 2008

2016 European Grand Prix Rate the Race result

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Azerbaijan’s first grand prix was ranked among the ten worst races since the 2008 season by F1 Fanatic readers.

The inaugural race on the Baku City Circuit earned an average rating of 4.7 out of ten from F1 Fanatic readers, the lowest of the season so far.

Expectations had been high after two incident-packed GP2 races and a surprise in qualifying as Lewis Hamilton hit trouble. So what went wrong? Here’s what you had to say:

Two DRS zones seemed excessive
Stupid radio rules, same DRS overtake lap after lap, silly tyre saving/fuel saving strategies out of necessity.

No Safety Car? I don’t know the odds of that happening before the race, but I think it’s a subtle hint to the fact that the drivers are having to manage their cars for two hours rather than racing hard.

I know ‘the formula’ is dynamic and subject to evolution, but for me, this grand prix is a manifestation of everything that is wrong with F1 today.
Andy (@andybantam)

The lack of incidents during the race drew many comments. Did it reveal the better standard of driving among F1 competitors compared to their GP2 counterparts? Was it because F1 drivers get five hours of pre-race practice compared to GP2’s one-and-a-quarter?

Or was it simply because F1 drivers were conserving their tyres and fuel loads?

I think everybody expected madness like in GP2, myself included. Just goes to show how high the driving standard in F1 is, when there is not a single Safety Car (virtual or real) over the course of 51 laps when GP2 has six or more (at some point I stopped counting) in 50 laps combined.

We should also take into account that we’ve been spoiled by the start in Canada. I expected something similar and thus a proper fight for the lead but that never materialised once the red lights got out. As soon as Rosberg was into the lead after lap one, this race was done and dusted.

It was never a well thought out track, though. A series of straights that are easy to overtake on with DRS and a twisty section you can’t do anything but follow in doesn’t generate much but procession from the most professional drivers. With less professional drivers, you just get chaos as we saw in GP2 (and Nobuharu Matsushita deserves that ban).
Craig Wilde (@Wildfire15)

I think the track itself is really good but the DRS ruined the race as there was no real racing/overtaking.

I also think how far off the pace there driving managing tyres/fuel resulted in drivers pushing less and making fewer mistakes which also didn’t help.

GP2 kept the Safety Car driver busy
Perhaps the crazy GP2 races set unrealistic expectations:

GP2 might have set entertainment-expectations high, or driving-expectations low, but the drivers were too perfect today.

Apart from that, strategies were unimaginative, overtakes were DRS-aided and that’s it. Excluding, relatively speaking, Hamilton and Perez, the result was predictable, i.e. the usual suspects ended ahead. I was hoping and actually thought this was going to be the most unpredictable race ever… but it wasn’t.

It seemed many drivers were able to overtake on the main straight without needing the first DRS zone, let alone the second:

DRS was utterly destructive, and then a second DRS zone. Pathetic.

Whether or not the track was to blame, F1’s radio regulations came in for some criticism as Kimi Raikkonen and Hamilton hit trouble.

What a joke of a race. Instead of clean racing we witnessed the effects of idiotic regulations, two drivers struggling because of wrong engine settings. Raikkonen even lost the podium because of it.
Kostas K. (@Charlie2alpha)

For the first time in five years an F1 round clashed with the Le Mans 24 Hours. The chequered flag fell at La Sarthe while the F1 cars embarked on their formation lap, but there was rather more excitement around the finish in France:

After following the vast majority of the Le Mans race this year I watched the F1 thinking it would complete a nice day of motorsport.

I got very bored very quickly with the track, just a follow my leader round the vast majority of it until the DRS zones appeared – all in all a terrible race on a very poor track. Lots of 90 degree corners then a pointless narrow section where none of the camera angles seemed to have been thought out to give any excitement killed it for me.

Le Mans kept me enthralled for 24 hours… this GP kept me vaguely interested for 20 minutes at most then I gave up and watched on fast forward.

The view from the stands? “Dull”
Did it look better from the stands? We found at least one person who was there:

Deliberate tight shots of the grandstands avoided showing the lack of any fans that could have stayed awake until the all too predictable finish. Bernie’s ability to woo the politicians to sign up for the circus never fails to impress.

I was at Khazar grandstand and the place was packed. Lots of Russian folks. Many didn’t bother to stay for free Pharrell Williams after-show, so they seemed to be there for the race. But the race itself was so dull, I almost fell asleep by lap 25, under all that scorching sun.

Baku has replaced Valencia as the home of the European Grand Prix but it may not change this race’s reputation for tedium:

I think it’s just another example that a track doesn’t significantly contribute to a good racing. It’s the cars and its aero effects that dictate a good or a bad race.

eg. Valencia 2012 – A boring track in the eyes of many yet produced a fascinating race. Abu Dhabi 2012 – Similar.
Neel Jani (@neelv27)

2016 Rate the Race Results

Race Average score
2016 Spanish Grand Prix 8.706
2016 Chinese Grand Prix 7.853
2016 Australian Grand Prix 7.757
2016 Monaco Grand Prix 7.747
2016 Bahrain Grand Prix 7.382
2016 Canadian Grand Prix 6.583
2016 Russian Grand Prix 5.396
2016 European Grand Prix 4.728

Your verdict on Baku

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2016 European Grand Prix

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Author information

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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28 comments on “Baku’s first race ranked among the worst since 2008”

  1. I was about to comment that the scores have fallen every race through the season…

    The I realised the table is sorted by score. Complete fail on my part!!

  2. “A series of straights that are easy to overtake on with DRS and a twisty section you can’t do anything but follow in doesn’t generate much but procession from the most professional drivers. ”

    Couldn’t be summed up in a better way.

    1. Yes, that’s the perfect description of this race track.

  3. Personally, I didn’t find the race that boring.

    1. As a Mexican I was happy, but still the race bored me to death… An exciting track on my view turned it to be Valencia 3.0.

    2. A few changes to the DRS zones next year may change that. It is an OK track, but the DRS ruined it more than the track layout. Overtakes were way too easy. Not one overtake was done under pressure.

    3. I thought it was OK too, I gave it a 6. It ended up as more of a strategic battle than a driving battle, but at least that’s something. The visuals were nice too.

  4. The race was boring, but I don’t think it was a bad as described here. As with Sochi, I feel the race was downvoted because of its location. There were some battles in the midfield as some times suffered from excessive tire wear. Unfortunately, the top teams had no such issues and therefore the frontrunners were never really challenged. I do agree that two DRS zones were way too much. This track didn’t need DRS at all.

    1. @f1infigures

      Doubt that the location mattered, if you look at the top and bottom races, they are all over the place.

      1. @mike Russia and Azerbaijan? Those countries are pretty close. Russia always performs badly in this poll, partly because the track is boring and partly because of political reasons.

        1. @f1infigures

          … … How do you distinguish between a boring track producing boring races and “political reasons”? Hungary is ex-eastern block and has some fantastic scores. China is communist (or so they claim) and has the 2nd best score. Bahrain is in the middle east AND has significant internal problems yet still has scored very well.

          I don’t think there is much evidence to suggest people are rating based of whether they like the country or not. Britain and the US aren’t even in the top ten.

  5. The race was boring, but as boring as other races in the recent years. I think the disappointment is given by an expectation too high, given that the qualy was fine and GP2 races were great. The problem here I think was the DRS… if you have a long long straight and a thing that allow you to overtake easily in that straight, if you have brainh in your head, you are going to wait and use that advantage. If you overtake in other point of the track, then it’s very difficult to make a 1.0s difference until the straight arrives, and you are going to have a bad time in it. It’s logical.

    OK, GP2 have DRS too, and the races were great. But in GP2 the drivers are not that experienced, and they are all fighting for the win, basically. 10-12 drivers are potentially race-winners and in F1 there is only 2-4. And the sporting rules of GP2 are more “traditional based”… I mean, the driving it’s not focused to save tires, fuel or power units, they only drive as fast as they can, and that leads to take some risks. In F1, conservadurism it’s the word that can define now the category. In each race, there is some drivers that take high risks, but it’s not the norm. In GP2 all drivers go full attack most od the time. Add to this that some of then looks to be a little bit crazy (The safety-car relaunching of Matsushita was epic) and you have some reasons for tell why the GP2 races were filled of incidents and the F1 race was boring to sleep a sheep.

  6. It was very boring

  7. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    23rd June 2016, 23:44

    I feel people rated it low as they were expecting it to be more exciting just because of what the track looked like. There is a good chance that next year, this race could look totally different. This race to me really wasn’t that boring. Maybe the worst this season but only just and there have been far more boring races in the last few years. The location of this track still looks great. The track has the narrowest part out of any track on the calendar. There are loads of things that make it stand out. So many people seem to be saying that this race looks like it will always be boring. It was actually quite impressed that there wasn’t any crashes / mistakes during that race. Not even on the first lap. Do people actually want a load of crashes? I’ve noticed that F1 races tend to get voted higher if there are crashes. If it is overtaking people are after, then there has been a lot here due to the long straight. But people complain and say it is too easy. If they didn’t have DRS and it was harder to overtake, people would probably complain and say there isn’t anywhere near enough overtaking.

    I don’t see anything wrong with a track in F1 having an extremely long straight. They don’t all have this and it is what makes this track unique. This track also gave an advantage to a team that isn’t normally anywhere near as strong as they were here. That was yet another thing that made this race more interesting.

    1. The race wasn’t as exciting as the rest have been this season but that was nothing to do with the track. It was just down to other factors such as:
      No duelling Mercedes
      Hamiltons problems
      No safety car
      No rain
      Red Bull tyre problems
      One pit stop for some.
      Silly DRS.

      Next year could be a classic. Baku were just unlucky.

  8. worst and most boring race of the season so far

  9. I haven’t watched an F1 race in ages (due to not having a TV and European races being at midnight, and other things to do generally), but watched this one. Actually I really enjoyed it. Rosberg was dominant but lots of good contests through the field. The track is unique and the DRS zones especially on the long straight created unique dynamics to the racing, lots of action through the field and a track with a variety of interesting corners and a visually interesting setting.

    I think a lot of people see what they expected to see. This isn’t to say that some of the comments are invalid — the DRS on the pitstraight was a bit absurd, it’s probably true that the lack of drama is due to drivers having to conserve tyres, and they really needed a second DRS detection zone before turn 2.

  10. Unfair, to judge Baku on the race, which in my opinion was misjudged. I was really tired though from watching LeMans in the early hours.

  11. It is unbelievable how people let their hate for the host country interfere with their opinion about the race its self. A track that favors overtaking and high speeds. A track that punishes every small mistake. Isn’t that what we are looking for? I enjoyed the race so much. It was actually one of the few races so far this season where I did not fall asleep. Azerbaijan sure needs to sort out its human rights issues. But the track its self is amazing.

    If F1 is going to a place where there are human rights issues, at least let the track be good. Not like the dull Bahrain circuit or the horrible Yas Marina…

  12. DRS completely killed the race for me. I suspected it would take away and it did, heavily.

    Absolutely no need for it when you have straights like that.

    1. Yep. This race was the worst use of DRS sofar.

  13. Michal (@michal2009b)
    24th June 2016, 12:32

    I think there is too much strategy involved in racing this season. The races sometimes look like ‘a time trial’ when they trying to go to the finish in fastest time. Yes, I know racing is all about, however it hurts the on-track action. It may seem good to give teams more strategic freedom, but the result is the decrease of overtakes for real positions. It happens because the drivers are running on a different strategy, so they either are not together on the racetrack or the actual overtakes are a formality, especially with DRS. And no, I am not against pitstops or a little bit of strategic variety but if many people are running a different strategy each, it can be very easily chaotic or confusing as well as the overtakes are not really exciting (again, DRS is not helping there).

  14. I think the problem when you have a DRS zone thats as effective as the one on this circuit was is that it allows the faster cars to get by slower one’s fairly quickly/easily which then leads to the field getting strung out in pace order which then removes the prospect for any decent battles continuing into the latter stages of the race.

    If you look at the race itself you had any cars that were out of position relative to there race pace (Hamilton & The 2 Ferrari’s for example) making there way past those who had better qualifying pace (Such as the Red Bull’s) fairly quickly so you then had the middle section of the race where not a lot happened as cars settled into there race pace & did whatever tyre/fuel management was required. Then you had a phase where cars that went onto a 2 stop strategy drop back & come back past those on a 1 stop/yet to stop before everyone settled back into management pace & then at the end you had those who were running out of tyres (such as Kimi) start to lose pace & get passed by those who had more tyre life left (like Perez).

    Had DRS been less effective or non-existent we may well have seen more of a race as those with better race pace/out of position would have had to race there way past slower cars which in itself would have been more exciting but it also would have spread the action out more throughout the entire length of the race rather than it all been done early on with DRS & this would have made the race overall much better.

    I still stand by what I said over the weekend though, I think the circuit itself is really good & I think it has the potential to provide good races in the future. They could make a few tweaks to maybe open up some of the tighter corners by moving the kurbs closer to the barriers on the inside & by obviously doing away with the DRS zone into turn 1 but I think the overall circuit layout is fine.

  15. Willem Cecchi (@)
    24th June 2016, 14:41

    If DRS was calibrated better Baku would rendered a much better race.

  16. ILuvSoundtracks (@)
    24th June 2016, 15:47

    Great. I will quit rating F1 races for good.

    (that’s a joke)

  17. Well. That is what happens. DRS highway passes and lots of stop and go 90 degree corners. Camera angles were poor. They did little to show Nico Rosberg doing 120kph on narrow castle entry for example.

    Even main straight seemed slow. Terrible infact.

  18. Sviatoslav (@)
    24th June 2016, 21:46

    I’ve been watching F1 for nine years. I had never complained about even the most boring races until they introduce stupid DRS in 2011. I was a fan of many drivers and I wanted to watch racing. For me, there weren’t such thing as “boring race” before DRS.
    I will stop complaining about current F1 when they ditch DRS, because I was fed up with it during the European race.

  19. Bernie can make this track more special without DRS!This track naturally has DRS, so does new Monza.

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