Championship tensions boil over between Vettel and Hamilton but Ricciardo stays cool

2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix review

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Following two days of track action that saw incidents and accidents galore, Mercedes’s Valtteri Bottas casually predicted that the Azerbaijan Grand Prix could potentially prove to be ‘more of a mess’ than last year’s relatively uneventful affair.

Such was the degree of accuracy of Bottas’s prediction, it would ultimately transpire that this very same driver’s recovery from the back of the field following a first lap collision all the way to taking second place in the final 100m of the race would only prove to be a minor talking point in post-race discussions.

Yes, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix was one of those very special Formula 1 races where few made it to the chequered flag unscathed, few could’ve predicted the result and few are likely to ever forget it.

Because not only was this race one of constant chaos and drama, it may have also provided us with some significant spice in the already very tasty rivalry between that has been steadily brewing between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton.

The fallout of which, and the effect it could have over the remaining 12 races of the season, could yet come to define this championship.

Fighting Finns come to blows again

Having dropped the ‘European’ moniker for their second attempt at hosting a grand prix, the Azerbaijan organisers were hoping that the ‘land of fire’ would produce a race with considerably more heat than their first.

Fresh from matching his idol Ayrton Senna’s pole positions tally last time out in Montreal, Lewis Hamilton had followed up by breaking his fellow three-time champion’s mark around the Baku streets ahead of team mate Valtteri Bottas.

Red Bull had looked potentially threatening in practice, but Daniel Ricciardo’s Q3 crash had doomed him to a midfield start, while Max Verstappen was unable to beat the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, who had in turn found themselves over a second adrift of the Silver Arrows.

A second consecutive one-two for Mercedes looked, in all probability, to be on the cards, should this be a conventional race.

It was anything but.

Hamilton kept his lead at the start
As the lights went out, Hamilton swept away onto the racing line and firmly taking the lead. Behind, Bottas found himself having to check up to give his team mate space, coming under pressure from the Ferraris of Raikkonen and Vettel behind. Bottas struggled to get traction down on the street surface out of the first turn, leaving him vulnerable to his countryman Raikkonen on the run down to turn two.

Raikkonen, with the momentum, took to the right in an attempt to ride clean around the outside of the Mercedes into turn two. While the Ferrari left plenty of room, Bottas took too much kerb on the inside and understeered directly into Raikkonen, who made more than significant contact with the outside wall.

Remarkably, despite clouting the concrete, Raikkonen came away from the collision the healthiest of the two Finns, with Bottas suffering major front wing damage as well as a right-front puncture, forcing him into an over three minute crawl back to the pits.

It hadn’t been the first time this season that Bottas and Raikkonen had come to blows in the opening skirmishes of a grand prix. Raikkonen was quick to voice his frustrations over radio and it was hard not to sympathise with the Ferrari driver. But in keeping with the sport’s new, more lenient approach to racing incidents this year, the stewards determined that no action should be taken either way for the incident.

Bottas took damage at the start
Through the melee, Hamilton emerged in a clear lead with championship leader Vettel in second, with Sergio Perez promoted up to third in the Force India, ahead of Max Verstappen’s Red Bull, with Raikkonen’s potentially wounded Ferrari in fifth.

In what was to become a major theme of the race, debris began to cause the first of what would be many, many headaches for drivers and engineers alike.

Max Verstappen called the pit wall to suggest that he may have picked up damage from the turn two, but while Red Bull were initially concerned about Verstappen’s radiators, it was the sister car of Ricciardo who had the more pressing issue. The Australian pitted at the end of Lap Four, switching to Soft tyres while the team cleared out his brake ducts.

It is hard to believe that, on Lap Six, the eventual top two finishers of this race sat in 17th and last, respectively.

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Verstappen forced out again

It would take a long memory to recall any driver suffering such a difficult and fruitless start to a season as Jolyon Palmer has in 2017.

Following regular car problems, disappointing results and very public speculation over his future with the Renault team, the former GP2 champion’s fortunes somehow continued to get spectacularly worse in Baku. Following a sizeable shunt on Friday and an engine fire on Saturday that forced him out of qualifying, Palmer’s Sunday ended equally hopelessly when he was told to switch off his engine and coast home on Lap Eight.

It would be the first of an early spate of mechanical problems – and not the only for a Renault powered driver.

Daniil Kvyat’s weekend ended just after the Baku castle at turn 12 when he was forced to pull off the line with a suspected electronics problem. With the lack of easy access areas for recovery around the Baku street circuit, there didn’t seem to be a simple way for the marshals to remove the stricken Toro Rosso without intervention from race control.

Then, Verstappen’s apparently unlucky RB13 curse struck again. For the second race in a row, Verstappen saw a promising start fall away into nothingness when his power unit stopped providing him full power entering the enormous main straight.

While reaching 300km/h would be an impressive achievement for most engines, it was clear that Red Bull were facing yet another race-ending problem as car after car swept past the helpless Verstappen down the straight.

“Ugh, here we go again!,” lamented the thoroughly hacked-off young Dutchman. It would be his fourth failure to finish in the last six grands prix. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Verstappen was nowhere to be found in the media pen or indeed the entire paddock in the aftermath of his latest retirement.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Baku City Circuit, 2017
The Safety Car was called to recover Kvyat’s car
Meanwhile, with no obvious solution to remove Kvyat’s Toro Rosso that remained parked off line, the Safety Car was deployed to give the track workers ample window to take care of it.

With a one stop strategy having always seemed the no-brainer optimum strategy, now was as good a time as any to make the switch, with almost the entire field immediately boxing for new rubber.

After the stops cycled through, Hamilton still lead ahead of Vettel, Perez still in third, Massa in fourth, Esteban Ocon in fifth, with Raikkonen sixth in the second Ferrari. Having stopped for a third set of tyres, the eventual winner, Ricciardo, was now up to tenth, while Bottas was crucially handed his lap back, effectively negating the majority of the damage he’d caused himself in that opening lap mishap.

At the restart, Hamilton carefully, deliberately, backed the field up to give himself plenty of room to put the throttle down hard entering the longest flat out section on the calendar. He timed it perfectly, passing the Safety Car line mere seconds after the AMG-Mercedes road car had done so itself, leaving Vettel with little opportunity to challenge him for the lead, who instead had to fend off an ambitious Perez behind.

Further back, a small piece of debris flew off from Raikkonen’s Ferrari under braking for turn one. While it appeared harmful enough, race director Charlie Whiting refused to take any chances and opted to bring out the Safety Car for a second time, giving even more opportunity for the track to the sufficiently cleared.

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Red mist, red flag

Then came the moment that could well have transformed the entire complexion of the championship duel between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton.

It all started from Hamilton, bracing himself for another restart, again choosing the exit of turn 15 to begin to strategically bunch up the field ahead of lunching himself into another clear lead come the end of the lap.

Vettel expected Hamilton to accelerate after navigating the tricky left-hand kink. He didn’t. Vettel did.

The Ferrari braked hard to avoid the Mercedes, but with brake temperatures having fallen under the Safety Car, Vettel was unable to miss tagging the back of Hamilton’s car.

With little, if any, damage done, that should’ve been the end of it. But Vettel was blinded with anger at what he interpreted as a deliberate brake test on behalf of Hamilton. In one of those poor snap decisions that so many drivers in history, even champions, have been guilty of, Vettel chose to pull alongside his rival to gesticulate in rage and, in doing so, clashed wheels with the Mercedes.

Even after the race concluded an hour later, Vettel was still incensed by what he saw as a deliberate dangerous move by Hamilton.

“I think it was quite obvious,” claimed Vettel. “It’s just not the way to do it.”

Rather unsurprisingly, Hamilton saw things differently.

“I control the pace, so like all the other restarts I slowed down at the same spot,” said Hamilton. “He was obviously sleeping and drove into the back of me.”

Despite the collision, Hamilton took off once again into the lead as the race officially resumed. The stewards began to investigate immediately. It seemed like a moment of poor judgement could well cost Vettel valuable points in the tight title race between the two.

Vettel again had to worry about threats from behind, with Massa in the Williams taking advantage of a double slipsteam from the Force Indias at the fastest point on the circuit to drive down the inside of the Ferrari in a bold attempt to take second.

With Vettel rebuffing the attack, Perez looked to the outside of Massa, in much the same way Raikkonen had done earlier, but found that team mate Ocon had a much better run to the inside. Perez moved to defend and the two touched before the braking zone for turn two.

Ocon to his inside, Perez held his line around the outside but found himself running out of space on the exit. Ocon didn’t offer any more and the two collided, causing significant damage to both cars and all but ending their chances of an incredibly strong result in the process.

Having come off the worst of the two, Perez was livid, later branding the incident as ‘totally unacceptable’

With yet more debris now strewn on the track, Kimi Raikkonen collected some of Perez’s front wing, causing him a right-rear puncture and helping to make the Ferrari driver’s day even more challenging.

Having descended from eventful to almost farcical, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix saw its third Safety Car intervention of the afternoon. This time, however, the red flags were called. Whether this was to allow for a thorough clean up of the entire circuit or simply just to give the drivers a much needed time out to calm down was unsure.

Cars were brought back to the pits as teams got to work trying to fix whatever damage they were permitted to fix, with Perez, Ocon and Raikkonen among those receiving the most substantial treatment.

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Hamilton keeps head despite losing his head rest

After a considerable period of respite, the drivers climbed back into their cars to resume the second half of this chaotic grand prix. It would only be a little less frantic than the first.

Hamilton still headed the field from Vettel, with Massa, Stroll, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen’s Haas following as the field lined up for the third time behind the Safety Car.

There was considerably less drama at the front when the race resumed this time, as Hamilton once again crossed the line comfortably ahead of Vettel. Behind, however, Daniel Ricciardo took a giant step forward with a major lunge up the inside of both Williams of Stroll and Massa to as well as the charging Hulkenberg to jump up to third.

Massa’s Williams was now visibly shaking down the long main straight, the team quick to inform him that a broken rear damper was effectively forcing him out of the race. Massa was passed by both Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault and Kevin Magnussen’s Haas, but the smiles quickly dissipated from the Renault team’s faces when Hulkenberg clipped the inside wall at turn seven, damaging his suspension to become yet another retirement.

A loose headrest forced Hamilton into the pits
Then, as if there hadn’t been enough drama, enough incident, enough talking points from this bizarre grand prix, the race was then turned entirely on its head once more, when Hamilton’s headrest began to come loose from his Mercedes.

Rising from the cockpit of the W08 under the aerodynamic turbulence of a 320km/h velocity, the headrest was becoming a key safety risk, let alone a significant distraction for the race leader, who was forced to do the world’s fastest dab along the main straight in an attempt to secure it back down one-handed.

With Hamilton’s best efforts unable to fix the problem, Mercedes faced the reality of having to call their man in to secure this disruptive device and almost certainly end his chances of taking a fourth victory of the season.

Hamilton duly surrendered the lead to Vettel on Lap 31, but then came the news that the Ferrari driver had been handed a ten-second stop-and-go penalty for ‘dangerous driving’ following the collision between the pair at the second restart.

Vettel was incredulous. “When did I do dangerous driving?,” he asked, although it was difficult to believe he could be at all genuine in that question.

Hamilton, far more believably, was less than impressed. “A ten second penalty for driving like that is not enough, you know that Charlie,” he mused.

Vettel served his penalty at the start of Lap 34, resuming just ahead of Hamilton in seventh. The pair caught Fernando Alonso’s McLaren, who had found himself up into sixth following the carnage of the race so far, and Hamilton looked to take advantage to pass the Ferrari out of turn one, but was forced to bide his time.

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Ricciardo records fifth career victory

Despite his early setback, Ricciardo hit the front and won
Throughout all of this, Daniel Ricciardo had now inherited the lead of the grand prix despite his early pit stop forcing him to have played catch up from the fourth lap of the race.

As amazing as that may have seemed, the fact that rookie Lance Stroll – much maligned by his critics for appearing out of his depth at times over the start of his Formula One career – was running second on merit having kept out of trouble was almost scarcely believable.

Under the radar too had been Valtteri Bottas’s recovery, who had taken advantage of gaining a lost lap back under the initial Safety Car period to navigate the debris and the carnage up to fourth place behind Ocon. Bottas used DRS to great effect to breeze past the Force India on Lap 40 and was now, incredibly, on the podium, with 12 laps remaining to chase down a 14 second gap to Stroll’s Williams in second.

The two Saubers of Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein made minor contact with each other on the run down to turn three, shedding yet more carbon fibre onto the circuit in an almost fitting visual metaphor for that team’s recent fortunes.

Vettel and Hamilton continued to advance back through the field, dispatching Magnussen’s Haas and then Ocon’s Force India to reach fourth and fifth, respectively. Ultimately, it would prove to be as high as either would reach.

Hamilton, aware that Vettel now had his team mate ahead, enquired as to whether Bottas could be used to try and make the Ferrari more vulnerable to him. But with Bottas catching second-placed Stroll at over a second a lap, he would receive no such assistance.

It had been one of the most incident filled and action packed grands prix in recent memory, but despite everything, Ricciardo had once again demonstrated how he thrives on chaos and came through to take his and Red Bull’s first victory of the season and his first win since Malaysia last year.

Rookie Stroll lost second on the liune, but didn’t mind too much
But there was still time for yet more drama as Lance Stroll, en route to an astonishing maiden podium, came under immense pressure from Bottas on the run to the line. With the full power of the Mercedes’s top engine mode and the bonus of DRS, Bottas approached the Williams as if at warp speed and snatched second place from the teenager less than 100 metres from the chequered flag in one of the most unlikely podium finishes you’ll ever see.

Losing second at the death in no way diminished how important and impressive a result this was for Stroll, who had finally answered his critics in the most powerful way by showing great speed, judgement and maturity in a race so many, even multiple world champions, had not.

Vettel and Hamilton crossed in fourth and fifth, the championship leader extending his lead to 14 points over his rival but at the cost of three penalty points on his superlicense. Hamilton’s branding of Vettel’s conduct as a ‘disgrace’ after the race was perhaps the first major indication that the nature of their respectful competition may have suffered a major change.

Sixth place would usually have seemed a solid result for Ocon and Force India, but in light of the unnecessary and costly contact between the two team mates earlier in the race, it was hard not to feel as though the team’s drivers could’ve cost themselves a truly special race result for the second weekend in succession.

Magnussen drove smartly to take seventh for Haas in a good effort, with Carlos Sainz having recovered from an opening lap spin to take eighth for Toro Rosso.

Such was the level of action and the number of talking points from this race, it was easy to overlook that McLaren took only their first points of the season with Fernando Alonso securing a ninth place finish – the longest wait for first points of the McLaren-Honda reunion era.

Despite their minor coming together, Pascal Wehrlein rounded out the points ahead of Sauber team mate Marcus Ericsson. With team principal Monisha Kaltenborn having departed from the team just days before the weekend began, the result will hopefully provide a boost to morale.

Vettel fumed at title rival Hamilton/caption]And so, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix succeeded in its ambition to produce dramatic, exciting racing with a race that will sit long in the memory for many of the sport’s fans.

While the sheer number of incidents and accidents will have left some feeling as though this was hardly a shining demonstration of Formula One racing at its highest level, the ramifications from this particular round of the 2017 championship could well be felt throughout the rest of the season.

Perhaps most importantly, we were all treated to an unexpected podium of three drivers who would never have expected to find themselves on it after the opening laps of the race with genuine jubilation on display on the rostrum. Which, many may well agree, is how it should be.

After all, as Lance Stroll put it best, “That’s why we do this, for these moments. You have hard days, good days, but these days feel so special.”

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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80 comments on “Championship tensions boil over between Vettel and Hamilton but Ricciardo stays cool”

  1. Great review, thanks Keith

    1. Thanks but this one’s by Will :-)

      1. Give Will a bonus, it was really well written imho!

    2. It’s Will Wood. But yeah, I can’t tell the difference lately too.

      1. The best write up of the race in all media platforms. Congratulations, Will and Keith.

  2. Lewis always do unnecessary slow down restart. He just forgot the one behind him was not Rosberg.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      26th June 2017, 7:49


      I really don’t like the way he does this after all the complaining he does about the speed of the safety car. He complains about it being too slow and affecting his tyres, then he chooses to go much, much slower himself. I can’t follow the reason’s for this just after he’d been moaning on the radio about the (faster) safety car going far too slow. It is a bit unreasonably of him I think.

    2. @ruliemaulana

      Lewis always do unnecessary slow down restart.

      If you’re the leading car, this is completely necessary as it’s the best way to to try and stay ahead is slowing the pack. In fact it’s the ONLY way to stay ahead on a circuit like Baku where the car behind gets a massive toe with DRS down the long straight.

      Feel free to rewind to other races with other leading drivers at the restart and you’ll see the same kind of slowing down. If it’s unnecessary for Hamilton it must therefore be unnecessary for anyone else and the rules regarding pace-control should be changed accordingly.

      Finally, if his slowing down was unnecessary, there’s just as much reason to say Vettel’s acceleration was unnecessary.

      Hamilton wanted to ensure the best possible way to retain his lead by slowing down. Vettel wanted to give himself the best opportunity to put Hamilton under pressure by keeping close and anticipating his next move (hense the acceleration not knowing what Hamilton was doing). I just put it down to a racing incident between two drivers that had a conflict of interests. And indeed that’s how the stewards saw it, too.

      1. A very good analysis.
        And where were all this Hamilton critics when other drivers did exactly the same at a restart ?

      2. I do not believe DRS is enabled on a restart.

        1. You’re absolutely right, don’t know how that slipped my mind! :)

    3. @ruliemaulana


      Every leading driver slows down the pack before accelerating on a race restart. Have you been watching Formula 1 or not?

      What is unnecessary though is internationally bumping in to other drivers because you cannot control your anger.
      I’m just shocked at the level of support Vettel is getting on this website. There is no justification for his actions. Let’s hope karma comes full circle to bite him in the rear.

      1. Hilarious, huh? Look at Vettel’s restarts all throughout his career. Better yet, look at old-school drivers’ restarts (of which Vettel isn’t one).

        1. Every leading driver slows down the pack before accelerating on a race restart.

          @ Paul This cannot be argued against. @todfod is merely stating a fact.

          Hilarious, huh? Look at Vettel’s restarts all throughout his career.

          Given Todfod ‘s intended point, one would have to assume you’re insinuating that Vettel never slows the pack down during the race restart?

          Have a look at this video from around 10 seconds onwards.

          Vettel is indeed perfectly within the rules to do this, but what you say does not invalidate Todfod’s point in any way.

      2. @todfod Looking back at the old comment, karma has bit Vettel in the rear, looking at Singapore.

        1. @godoff1

          And his post race bump in malaysia

    4. Not only is it standard practice, as others have mentioned, but it was the exact same place as he had “slowed down”* previously. Vettel should have been more careful, but I would have put it down as a racing incident.

      However, Vettel’s reaction was beyond unacceptable. Even if Hamilton had actually brake tested him as he thought, it’s up to the stewards to deal with it, not for Vettel to overtake him and gesticulate. I can just about accept the possibility that he didn’t deliberately bang wheels with Hamilton (although his cagey answer after the race leads me to suspect he did) but he definitely drove dangerously and, at least, lost control of the car due to his own anger.

      I hope the FIA haul him up for this. At the very least, a reprimand or superlicense points with a stern warning (“if you ever do that again you’ll get a race ban”) are necessary. As was said on the C4 coverage, it’s no better than a footballer hitting another on the pitch. It’s a really bad example to set and the FIA need to show that it will not be tolerated.

      * “Slowed down” is in quotes because he didn’t, he just maintained speed out of the corner rather than accelerating.

      1. He did brake on corner exit. On board replay show that. FIA just choose to ignore it.

        1. The FIA found no evidence of your claim. You’re choosing to ignore that.

          1. You are aware that that image is take just as he exits the apex? If you watch the actual footage you will see that he lifts off the brake (or the kers stops generating) and maintains speed almost immediately after that image. Vettel hit hamilton after the corner not during the corner. It is entirely expected for a driver to slow through a corner especially as they were about to restart.

            So no he did not brake on the corner exit, he was releasing the brake on the corner exit. A single frame grab obviously does not show context.

            Also it is worth noting that the telemetry graphics shown on TV are not necessarily accurately synced while the stewards have access to huge amounts of accurate and precise data.

        2. @ruliemaulana actually onboard telemetry is done through camera sensors, these cameras issued by the FOM aren’t an accurate gauge of if a driver is braking or simply coasting. The teams on the other hand do have graphs, and chart so give to the FIA stewards that actually have moment by moment data over any lap of the race.

          This is how the FIA actually concluded that Lewis was doing what he had done ever SC prior.

          1. @magillagorilla
            Thanks. This really makes sense. Care to share what telemetry data any team ought to give? Was it only speed data or FIA could see if any drivers push the brake pedal or not?

          2. @magillagorilla

            They also did show braking and throttle at the same time . How can they show this if they don’t have telemetry?

          3. @ruliemaulana there was a tweet one year from Lewis and a couple other drivers showing the data they receive from their team here is an example from this very site used by another site. In this telemetry graph it shows precise braking times, times of speeding up, changes of gear and what gear the car was in, as well as DRS activation, and then various other things like temps of certain parts. It does this over a lap. The driver or team or stewards can then compare each lap and see if a driver did something differently to similar situations prior, based on this literally second by second (less than that even) measure of data.
            @anunaki You’ve clearly misunderstood. The team telemetry in the link provided is a very precise and accurate measure that the stewards/FIA use to make judgments. What people are given on TV is an FOM version, not that from the team. If the team gave critical data like that, other teams would have sweeping unbridled access to it without much trouble. The FOM cameras have sensors in them, that tell the HUD provided on TV when the car is speeding up or braking. Now the braking could simply be down to a driver coasting at third throttle and then completely letting off the gas, or actually applying the brakes. The FIA has claimed that Hamilton did not suddenly apply the brakes based on the more accurate team data. Which we don’t get to see during the broadcast we get a watered down version from the FOM.

          4. @magillagorilla
            Thanks for taking time to explain. Cheers…

        3. Coasterjunkie
          26th June 2017, 9:51

          All this about what HAM did or didn’t do is totally irrelevant as two wrongs to not make a right and if you cut me up at a roundabout that does not give me the right to chases after you and use my vehicle as a weapon to intimidate you. Do that in public and you will end up in court.
          Should be an instant 1 race ban given his lack of contrition after the race; a gentlemen would have gone up to Hamilton and apologized for over-reacting, whatever Hamilton might or might not have done. Hamilton’s ‘no-comment’ initial responses after the race showed he is the better person.

        4. A tiny touch of the brake which did not allow the car down appreciably (the graphics show a drop of 2kph from applying the brakes after the corner, 51 to 49kph, which is nothing). This is not the same as brake testing.

          All Hamilton did was choose not to accelerate out of the corner. He chose that point to start backing up the pack, which is exactly where he chose to for the previous restart.

        5. Tony Mansell
          26th June 2017, 10:38

          Yes because Lewis lifting behind the SC is what’s important here. Not Vettel driving into LH deliberately. You seem to equate an action that was unfortunate – LH lifting, with one that was deliberate and potentially dangerous. USING YOUR CAR AS A WEAPON. If you cant see that, you are not thinking about this rationally. Maybe Red tinted glasses don’t help you.

    5. Did none of you watch the GP2 race in Baku last year when the guy leading after the SC came in dashing too soon and having to brake before the SC line bringing confusion down the pack and accidents galore? It was what Lewis had to do and considering the exit out of T15 is integral to your speed down the long dash to T1, what would you have had him done instead? T15 was and will still remain the best place to bunch up the field.

      1. Sorry exit out of T16 is crucial. My bad.

  3. I feel sorry for Max with again a retirement after a promising race. On the other hand a well deserved victory for Ricciardo with a stellar 3-in-1-corner overtaking manoeuvre.

    1. raffaelef195
      26th June 2017, 7:56

      For max this is the 4th retirement in the last 6 races. it’s a shame.

      1. Especially since he seems to be putting some distance between himself and Ricciardo. And it appears to be Verstappen improving rather than Ricciardo going backwards.
        A shame indeed.

        1. After the benchmark ricciardo has set, i believe it is ricciardo gone back rather than verstappen forward. Lets see how it plays out

        2. I really wonder what it’s like at Red Bull at the moment. It clearly frustrates Verstappen that Ricciardo is well ahead in points. But l wonder how happy Ricciardo is – surely he is aware that Max has consistently been faster, and I don’t think he’s happy with that.

          And the more Horner and Marko say that none of their drivers are going anywhere, the more I think either Mercedes or Ferrari is very actively trying to get Max to drive for them.

    2. Antoon van Gemert
      26th June 2017, 9:37

      Remember the tweet Max received from Red Bull Racing after his DNF in Canada?. It said: “We’ll go get it in Baku…”. But yet again Max was in trouble with his RB13 in the early stages of the race, a crazy race that he could have won! Red Bull Racing is hampering his F1-career in a big way at the moment, with a yet more frustrating Max Verstappen as a result. He was so gutted and disappointed with his team, that he refused to talk to the media after the race, even the Dutch Ziggo Sport had no chance to talk to him. According to our local newspaper he went later on to his hotelroom, refusing to talk to anyone, accept his manager Raymond Vermeulen, who brought out his short statement about his awfull race. I never believed in conspiracy-theory’s, but now I’m wondering what is going on behind the scenes at Red Bull? And what was that weird thing with the Max-cap on the podium? Only to make yet more fun of his misfortune by his team? Red Bull should stop with all these loose promises as “his time will come”. THIS IS HIS TIME! I think another DNF at Austria, in front of a special Max Verstappen-tribune (5000), will draw the releation-ship between Max and Red Bull in a big crisis, as it is not already. Let’s see if Max appears tonight at Peptalk (Ziggo Sport) for his Skype-interview?

    3. 1:05 PM on 26/06/2017 It’s all very sad for Max. One of the most important aspects for a driver is that he feels comfort in the car and along with that a feeling of trust in his machinery. Every new practice session and every new race Max puts his best into it. He out-qualified his team-mate now 5 to 3, he was running in front of his team-mate in most of the 8 races so far. Confronted with technical mishap he lost a series of possible podium places. Due to a miscalculation by his team he lost a possible podium in Monaco as well. How much stamina is asked of a 19 year old racing genius to keep giving his best, to stay focused, to keep his faith while his team-mate is running away with 4 podiums a victory included?
      Understandably he did not appear in front of the media because, what would they ask him and what could he answer? He was not willing to spill his frustration and he was not willing to put himself in this circle of smiling and celebrating colleagues. All this would have added loads upon his misery and he simply hates to feel rotten.
      Max Verstappen is much, much better than the car he is given to drive. So get your act together Red Bull!

  4. Watching the replay, It looks like Vettel got antsy and Lewis was using the best tactical move he could. Vettel seemed to underestimate Lewis’s resolve. After first contact, Vettel’s run up alongside was ill advised, contact was unnecessary but did not seem intentional. 10 sec and three points seem right.

    They drive like karters. Oh, right, they still are.

  5. DRicc does have a pretty good skill of staying out of trouble and managing his volatile engine to the finish line.

    1. GtisBetter (@)
      26th June 2017, 9:03

      how can you manage an engine? Did he accelerate less, brake early? Cause if he did manage his engine by not going 100% he would have been outside the top 5.

      1. @passingisoverrated he changes his oil early.

      2. Do slightly early shifts to not let the engine rev out, lift off a bit before braking, how you down shift while braking as well. There are things to do to manage your engine, like we saw people having to do at Russia when their engine’s were overheating, as an example.

        1. That’s just wild speculation, it’s completely hypothetical that any drivers do anything differently to ‘protect’ their engine.

          With the amount of telemetry they collect all of that would be shared with the drivers and your wouldn’t still be seeing them drive in a manner that causes failure this many races in.

          1. FreddyVictor
            26th June 2017, 10:53

            yep, total speculation
            he had reported a problem with that engine in 2 of the practice sessions
            I always wonder if you have some doubts about it, whether to simply take a new engine/penalty as you’re more likely to finish than not ?
            Anyone could have won yesterday’s race from the back of the grid !

          2. That was what the multi 21 incident was all about a few years back.

      3. For example, there are different engine settings which change boost levels, power output, etc…Some of them can be accessed on the steering wheel.

        1. That was what the multi 21 incident was all about a few years back.

        2. GtisBetter (@)
          26th June 2017, 16:23

          that’s engineers managing the engine and the team telling the driver which mode to use. I know that, but unless someone is using engine modes that are not allowed (which will be noticed by the team and definitely mentioned on radio) there is little management involved. You hit the brakes, hit the gas and shift. I don’t see how much you can do as a driver. Either the engine works, or it doesn’t.

      4. Of course they manage there engines just as they need to manage tyre and break wear. Ricciardo seems to be quite good at it.

        1. This talk about managing / overdriving the engine is just speculation without any source.

          These guys are the best drivers in the world and the teams have the best engineers in the world. The team puts in hundreds of millions to get the best results possible.

          I really don’t see that this is even possible but if it is why don’t we hear about it? And why is it suddenly in this years car and not last year?

          The way I see it is that Max has a bad luck season so far. This happens and he has to deal with it.

          1. Maybe someone doesn’t want him to do well. It happened to Hamilton.

  6. I predict Stroll for at least one win this year, based on his improving form… Okay, maybe not.
    But I do predict that Verstappen will leave Red Bull for a team with a fast, reliable car, as soon as he is able.
    As for Vettel, I was surprised to see him “driving angry”, he usually seems more in control of himself. It was a disappointing display.

    1. Mexico 2016

      1. More like 2016 season.

    2. As for Vettel, I was surprised to see him “driving angry”, he usually seems more in control of himself. It was a disappointing display.

      Since last year, all I can remember of Vettel is throwing his toys out of the pram and driving like an angry little child. I’m surprised you’ve seen him keep his cool. I can’t remember a single incident where he has.

  7. I like drivers who have temper. But it’s never a good thing if your frustration makes you unwillingly slam into your direct competitor’s race car. So, well deserved penalty for Vettel in my opinion. I would even say it should have been harsher.

    But on the other hand, I can’t believe that Hamilton got away without any sanction. After all, this is not the first time that he drives unbelievably slow behind the SC. I remember that very particular time that a similar incident happened with Alonso (2009?).

    Can somebody please tell me what the rules say about the distance between the leader and the safety car? is it two corners?


    1. The rules state that you have to remain 10 car lengths behind the safety car. However once the safety car is called in then the lead driver essentially becomes the safety car and is allowed to control the pace. At this point the distance to the safety car is not mandated, however no driver is allowed to pass the safety car until after the safety car line (just before the pit entrance). So this means the lead driver slows the pack down for 2 reasons. The first reason is so they can catch the following drivers off guard and get a gap and the second reason is so they can sprint off and time it so that they don’t overtake the safety car. It is the responsibility of the following drivers to drive safely behind the lead driver. This being said it is not uncommon for mistakes to happen and cars run into the back of another. Vettel just mad a mistake but instead of admitting this he thinks it is perfectly ok to accuse another driver of accelerating then braking (this clearly did not happen) and then to ram into another car out of anger!

      Hamiltons slow driving was not unbelievable it was totally expected and happens at every safety car restart regardless of the lead driver. Just look at old footage to see vettel doing the exact same thing. It is perfectly within the rules and completely expected. The lead driver could do 1mph if they wanted.

  8. “the world’s fastest dab”

    This made me audibly chuckle. :)

    Great review of a great race Keith.

    1. pastaman (@)
      26th June 2017, 14:59

      +1, except review by Will Wood

  9. @keithcollantine

    You really should use the main picture from this article for the caption comp…

  10. Great factual report. Biggup

  11. Just 2 questions:

    1. Could Vettel’s move into Hamilton have been accidental?
    Not trying to defend Seb (as he clearly didn’t behave like a 4 time WDC), but it seemed to me that he came alongside to gesticulate rather than bump into Lewis just to find himself surprised by the trajectory of its car. I believe he only had one hand on the wheel, the other gesturing furiously, and maybe his feet slipped a bit on the accelerator causing the car to quickly swerve to the right. He might be embarrased to admit this, that;’s why he didn’t say anything about this particular incident in post interviews.

    2. Why isn’t Ocon’s driving against Perez considered dangerous driving?
    I mean he left no space, and actually went further into Perez, squashing him into the wall. As far as i recall, Sainz got a penalty for this same maneouver in Canada when he crashed into Grosjean.

    1. sorry about the above, i meant to post it in a different article.

    2. 1: Accidental in what way? I can’t see it being that the car suddenly swerved violently to the right as that would not be a great characteristic for a race car. However it is possible he wanted to swerve to the right but didn’t mean to hit hamilton. The steering significantly veered to the right so some input would have had to be made. Either way it is dangerous driving.

      2: Perhaps the stewards were lenient due to them being team mates. I think he should have been penalised but I have seen odd decisions before when the incident involves team mates.

      1. Ocon wasn’t penalised because they failed to penalise Bottas on Lap 1. Simple as.

    3. I thought ocon into perez was a racing incident… yeah, maybe he could have been penalized, but wasnt. replay showed to my eyes, that ocon’s car stepped out a bit during power down exiting the corner & his steering correction was a bit to much, which put him into perez.

      quite honestly, if things went differently during @ montreal, maybe ocon would not have raced him so hard… hey, it takes 2 to tango & ocon simply stepped on perez’s toes during this one! OUCH…

      1. regarding the Ocon / Perez incident, i was reffering to the part after they made the corner, in the straight line, when Ocon kept coming towards the wall. He clearly steered towards Perez, look at the white line in the replays: Ocon was a couple of meters left of the line after they made the corner, but as they accelerated in the straight he started to push Perez into the wall until the mexican had nowhere to go. That was deliberate in my mind, and very poorly judged.

  12. Pretty much 8 drivers had a clear shot at the victory yesterday, that’s why I was so sad when Massa’s Williams failed. A win for him would’ve been spectacular. He was on it the whole race…

  13. Just wanted to mentiin again perez verstapenn like block on verstappen. Most people forgot it, i thought it was great.

  14. Lucky Ricky. Naughty Seb. Cool Lewis. Frustrated Max. Unprofessional stewarts. Lots going on which makes good watching. But besides Lucky Ricky not many winners today so I guess overall the sport lost big time this race. On to the next!

    1. I thought the sport won big.. it made f1 interesting.

  15. Great review. I liked that bit about Hamilton losing his headset but Vettel losing his head. And of course Ricciardo keeping cool and making the best use of the circumstances. That is his strong point

  16. To me, it’s ironic that had the Mercedes Team properly attached the foam bolster to Hamilton’s cockpit he would have won the race. This would have brought VET back on track well behind HAM after the penalty was served. HAM would have won without the stop to fix the detached bolster, and VET’s penalty would have seemed more fair.

    There are a lot of people upset with VET surrounding this past weekends race. He got his penalty, 10 second stop-go, from the stewards and it was a sufficient penalty. The stewards are not going to double check to see if HAM had to pit again to fix his bolster and make sure HAM came out in front of VET.

    The blame for this situation lies at Team Mercedes for not properly attaching the bolster to HAM’s car before the restart.

    1. There are a lot of people upset with VET surrounding this past weekends race. He got his penalty, 10 second stop-go, from the stewards and it was a sufficient penalty. The stewards are not going to double check to see if HAM had to pit again to fix his bolster and make sure HAM came out in front of VET.

      The blame for this situation lies at Team Mercedes for not properly attaching the bolster to HAM’s car before the restart.

      Correct and well said. The stewards job in that case was to assess the incident and apportion blame, which in this case they correctly deemed was Vettel’s fault and imposed the appropriate penalty. If Hamilton and lost out because of the incident, a much harsher penalty on Vettel like some others have suggested would have been justified. But he did not and neither did Vettel gain any places right then. Both managed to get their respective damages repaired during the Red Flag stoppage. Obviously, all headsets had to me removed to enable the drivers to get out and cool off and so it was entirely Mercedes team’s fault for not reattaching the set properly. Since that could have been dangerous if it had come off, some sort of financial penalty should have been imposed on the team (NOT the driver) by treating this as an unrelated incident.

  17. In my opinion, Vettel’s action is not acceptable, but it was a reaction to something he felt was a deliberate move to create a crash from Hamilton. As a spectator without all the data, it did felt to me Hamilton slowed down abruptly on a place where Vettel or the other cars behind wouldn’t have time to react without some sort of incident. I don’t think we’ll ever see the full telemetry of the mercedes car at that moment, or the exact angle of vision Vettel had when Hamilton lifted.

    All in all, what I know is that I haven’t been this excited on a World Championship since when, Alonso VS Schumacher? This is absolutely great for formula 1 and shows how really its a sport of Humans, and this is what differentiates from that Autonomous Racing Cars nonsense. May the best Man (and team) win!

  18. Vettel chose to pull alongside his rival to gesticulate in rage and, in doing so, clashed wheels with the Mercedes.

    This is political correctness at it’s worst, @keithcollantine. It is clear that Vettel swerved on purpose. No one can claim that a driver accustomed to driving at 300kph, dicing through sweeping high speed corners, suddenly forgets how to drive, and mistakenly (this is what you re insinuating) “clashed” wheels with another driver at a pedestrian 30mph. How is that possible? Calling a Spade a “gardening implement” is an insult to gardeners all over the world.

    1. @kbdavies Hi there. I wrote this particular article, so please do not direct anything towards Keith as it is not in anyway a reflection on his view.

      While I understand and, to a large degree, agree with a lot of those who feel Vettel’s behavious was totally unnaceptable, there is too much scope for ‘reasonable doubt’ in accusing him of having deliberately clattered into Hamilton for the secondary contact for me to actively do so.

      As I don’t have access to the same data or telemetry as the stewards did, I am very careful not to accuse any driver as doing something that I feel is as severe as deliberately running into a rival without clear proof or admission.

  19. @keithcollantine, @willwood, while you are praising Bottas’ prediction, I would like to bring to your notice your headline for the Monaco GP review: “Vettel delivers bodyblow to Mercedes” it said. Prescient much, eh :D :D

    1. @sumedhvidwans Haha! Good point…

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