Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Baku City Circuit, 2017

Bottas suspects second Baku race will be “more of a mess”

2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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Formula One’s second visit to Baku has been much like the first so far. Mercedes have a clear pace advantage and the practice sessions have been action-packed with driver after driver heading for the escape roads.

Last year Mercedes kept their advantage in the race but the grand prix itself was, to say the least, a dreary affair. Will we get another anticlimax this time?

Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, Baku City Circuit, 2017
Azerbaijan Grand Prix qualifying in pictures
Valtteri Bottas, who will start alongside Lewis Hamilton on the front row of the grid, reckons F1 was “kind of lucky” to have such an uneventful race 12 months ago. “After seeing all the GP2 races, now F2, how many Safety Cars and Virtual Safety Cars they had whereas we actually had none and there was not much action.”

“I think it is a track that normally with this type of track things will happen so my guess is that we’re going to see a bit more of a mess than maybe before but who knows.”

As F1 practice and the support races have shown, any on-track problem could result in a significant disruption. It took almost ten minutes to clear the yellow flags when Jolyon Palmer’s Renault caught fire. And the F2 feature was cut short by three laps after Sean Gelael crashed and blocked the track.

In terms of the competition, the yawning gap between Mercedes and their rivals may seem like bad news on the face of it. But compared to last year, when one of the team’s cars was out on its own and the other languishing mid-pack, at least we have the possibility of a contest between the two. And, as we’ve seen already this year, Ferrari and Red Bull are likely to offer stronger competition in the race.

From a championship point of view there is also the intriguing question of whether and how Sebastian Vettel might get ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. If the top four were to finish in the same order they start, Hamilton would take the championship lead.

As Pirelli has erred on the more conservative side of the tyre options, there may be little room for manoeuvre as far as strategy goes. The medium tyre is unlikely to appear at all as the soft appears to last very well and every driver has saved one new set of them.

Practice showed that the low-grip surface and high minimum pressures makes warming the tyres difficult. In particular drivers have found it hard to get the fronts to warm up as quickly as the rears – note how violently Bottas was working his front tyres before he began his final lap in Q3.

These tyre warm-up problems are likely to discourage the half of the field which have a free choice of starting tyre from using the harder compound. The top ten will, of course, start on their Q2 tyres and as usual they all used the softest rubber available.

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Qualifying times in full


Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’41.9831’41.275 (-0.708)1’40.593 (-0.682)
2Valtteri BottasMercedes1’43.0261’41.502 (-1.524)1’41.027 (-0.475)
3Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’42.6781’42.090 (-0.588)1’41.693 (-0.397)
4Sebastian VettelFerrari1’42.9521’41.911 (-1.041)1’41.841 (-0.070)
5Max VerstappenRed Bull1’42.5441’41.961 (-0.583)1’41.879 (-0.082)
6Sergio PerezForce India1’43.1621’42.467 (-0.695)1’42.111 (-0.356)
7Esteban OconForce India1’43.0511’42.751 (-0.300)1’42.186 (-0.565)
8Lance StrollWilliams1’43.6131’42.284 (-1.329)1’42.753 (+0.469)
9Felipe MassaWilliams1’43.1651’42.735 (-0.430)1’42.798 (+0.063)
10Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1’42.8571’42.215 (-0.642)1’43.414 (+1.199)
11Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1’42.9271’43.186 (+0.259)
12Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso1’43.4891’43.347 (-0.142)
13Kevin MagnussenHaas1’44.0291’43.796 (-0.233)
14Nico HulkenbergRenault1’43.9301’44.267 (+0.337)
15Pascal WehrleinSauber1’44.3171’44.603 (+0.286)
16Fernando AlonsoMcLaren1’44.334
17Romain GrosjeanHaas1’44.468
18Marcus EricssonSauber1’44.795
19Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren1’45.030
20Jolyon PalmerRenault

Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Lewis Hamilton35.329 (1)40.746 (1)24.410 (1)
Valtteri Bottas35.352 (2)41.153 (4)24.453 (2)
Kimi Raikkonen35.771 (4)41.162 (5)24.630 (5)
Sebastian Vettel35.828 (5)41.113 (3)24.664 (8)
Max Verstappen35.761 (3)41.067 (2)24.664 (8)
Sergio Perez35.934 (6)41.433 (8)24.744 (11)
Esteban Ocon36.092 (9)41.421 (6)24.541 (3)
Lance Stroll35.973 (7)41.515 (9)24.651 (7)
Felipe Massa36.112 (10)41.731 (10)24.743 (10)
Daniel Ricciardo36.001 (8)41.428 (7)24.633 (6)
Daniil Kvyat36.149 (11)41.770 (12)24.623 (4)
Carlos Sainz Jnr36.315 (12)41.738 (11)24.913 (13)
Kevin Magnussen36.634 (14)42.111 (13)24.816 (12)
Nico Hulkenberg36.498 (13)42.186 (15)24.976 (14)
Pascal Wehrlein36.642 (15)42.556 (18)25.059 (16)
Fernando Alonso36.762 (17)42.178 (14)25.304 (18)
Romain Grosjean36.968 (18)42.343 (16)25.035 (15)
Marcus Ericsson36.760 (16)42.939 (19)25.092 (17)
Stoffel Vandoorne37.025 (19)42.468 (17)25.367 (19)

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Kevin MagnussenHaasFerrari330.3 (205.2)
2Marcus EricssonSauberFerrari330.1 (205.1)-0.2
3Esteban OconForce IndiaMercedes330.1 (205.1)-0.2
4Daniel RicciardoRed BullTAG Heuer328.6 (204.2)-1.7
5Valtteri BottasMercedesMercedes327.9 (203.7)-2.4
6Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes326.9 (203.1)-3.4
7Daniil KvyatToro RossoRenault326.7 (203.0)-3.6
8Lance StrollWilliamsMercedes326.3 (202.8)-4.0
9Felipe MassaWilliamsMercedes324.8 (201.8)-5.5
10Sergio PerezForce IndiaMercedes323.8 (201.2)-6.5
11Max VerstappenRed BullTAG Heuer323.2 (200.8)-7.1
12Sebastian VettelFerrariFerrari322.9 (200.6)-7.4
13Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari322.2 (200.2)-8.1
14Romain GrosjeanHaasFerrari321.7 (199.9)-8.6
15Carlos Sainz JnrToro RossoRenault320.3 (199.0)-10.0
16Pascal WehrleinSauberFerrari320.2 (199.0)-10.1
17Nico HulkenbergRenaultRenault320.1 (198.9)-10.2
18Stoffel VandoorneMcLarenHonda315.6 (196.1)-14.7
19Fernando AlonsoMcLarenHonda315.3 (195.9)-15.0

Drivers remaining tyres

Lewis HamiltonMercedes011013
Valtteri BottasMercedes011004
Daniel RicciardoRed Bull011022
Max VerstappenRed Bull011013
Sebastian VettelFerrari011004
Kimi RaikkonenFerrari011004
Sergio PerezForce India101004
Esteban OconForce India101004
Felipe MassaWilliams101004
Lance StrollWilliams011004
Fernando AlonsoMcLaren011041
Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren011041
Daniil KvyatToro Rosso101032
Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso101032
Romain GrosjeanHaas011032
Kevin MagnussenHaas011014
Nico HulkenbergRenault011023
Jolyon PalmerRenault011050
Marcus EricssonSauber011032
Pascal WehrleinSauber011032

Over to you

Are you expecting a closer race this year? Or will it be a Mercedes walkover?

Share your views on the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in the comments.

2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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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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    18 comments on “Bottas suspects second Baku race will be “more of a mess””

    1. How in the heck did he find almost two seconds between Q1 and Q3???? That is really something.

      1. By cruising around in a detuned car in Q1?

      2. Race underway, and this prediction comes back to haunt Bottas.

        Bottas [Mercedes buffer] starting in P2 gets taken out by kimi [Farari sacrifice] in P3.

        Its a good job Hamilton qualified P1, or that move would have put Vettel out ahead on points.

        1. Second incident of aggressive driving by Ferrari.

          This time its Vettel on Hamilton, with the incident coming just before the red flag, and whilst they were all under safety car. Hamilton had a radio message saying the last restart was very close. This time he holds back, allowing the safety car more time to drive away.

          Vettel drives into the back of Hamilton, anticipating Lewis might accelerate after the safety car.
          To compound matters, Vettel then drives along side Hamilton and turns his car into Hamilton’s front suspension.

          If the first touch was an accident, that second touch definitely wasn’t. I wonder what they are saying in their Ferrari team talks? Presumably Ferrari believes their cars are stronger, if not faster than Mercedes.

          All this comes after rumours of a team[?] ‘burning oil’ in their engine to aid performance, and
          the oil reservoir suspected as installed for that purpose, now being removed. If this is the case it
          could see an end to this advantage, and explain their apparent boost in performance this year.

    2. This likely will be the most boring race of the 2017 calendar. A processional snoozefest. The only interest will be how Ferrari get Seb ahead of Kimi. Kimi will probably just ease off on the start. Maybe the hapless Lance Stroll will put it in the wall for some interest midfield.

      1. Alex McFarlane
        25th June 2017, 8:37

        Could it be worse than Sochi? At least the scenery is interesting….

      2. They seem to be able to follow each other closer than they could at Sochi

    3. I feel this race will be alot more interesting than last year. Vettel might get ahead of bottas & raikkonen both by the end. Hopefully someone like a Lance Stroll causes a big shunt just to spice up the race

    4. How can ERI be second fastest (speed trap) with a year old engine? WEH is 10 km/h slower.

      1. Wing settings matter too. However, I believe the actual top speeds are significantly higher than those measured in the speed trap, because the speed trap is in a weird place.

    5. Ferrari, Seb fan
      25th June 2017, 8:29

      Mercs will be wheel to wheel going into turn 8. Both crash and bottas and 13 other cars are out. Safety car comes out and ham, vet, mas, per, stroll and alonso are left. After safety car comes in, all 6 cars fight for victory and alonso take the lead with a VERY late breaking move into turn 1. All the other cars try to pas but can’t. Vettel has a look of a pass but backs off on Hamilton going into turn 8, but ham goes straight on and crashes. Perez and massa both hit each other and retire.Only alonso, Vettel and stroll are left. Vettel attacks alonso and both have a brilliant duel which vettel wins, just. On the final lap on the last straight, alonso’s engine fails. He starts pushing it and vet and stroll help him after the two finish. Alonso get it across the line




      Rest retired from race due to damage.

      1. Now THAT would get a 10/10 in “Rate the Race”

    6. I assume the race will be a one-stop for everyone (bar special circumstances)?

    7. Well, that was a good prediction!

    8. He was indeed correct!

      1. @strontium

        Not a surprise when he’s the cause of all the mess.

    9. Well done Mystic Bottas!

    10. Understatement of the year!

    Comments are closed.