Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Baku City Circuit, 2019

Bottas resists Hamilton to avenge lost Baku win

2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix summary

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Valtteri Bottas scored his second victory of the 2019 F1 season in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, claiming recompense for his lost Baku win last year.

Bottas, who was within sight of victory last year when a puncture put him out, resisted pressure from team mate Lewis Hamilton in the final laps to lead Mercedes’ fourth consecutive one-two finish.

Sebastian Vettel finished third after losing touch with the Mercedes drivers at the beginning of the race when they were running on soft tyres. His team mate Charles Leclerc led the middle part of the race running on the medium tyres, but like most other drivers had poor pace on the soft tyres at the end of the race. He finished behind Max Verstappen, but grabbed the point for fastest lap after a late pit stop.

Both Racing Points and McLarens came home in the points, led by Sergio Perez. Carlos Sainz Jnr got ahead of team mate Lando Norris to take his first points for the team, while Lance Stroll took ninth. The final point went to Kimi Raikkonen, one lap down, who fought his way to 10th after starting in the pits.

Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat retired following an unusual incident in the turn three run-off. Ricciardo locked up and ran wide, taking his rival with him, then reversed into the Toro Rosso as he tried to rejoin the track.

Romain Grosjean and Pierre Gasly also retired separately. The latter ran a very long first stint to get within range of the race leaders, before his car came to a stop.

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2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix reaction

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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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128 comments on “Bottas resists Hamilton to avenge lost Baku win”

  1. Probably not the greatest Baku race ever but I’m happy for Valtteri, especially after last year.
    I think things would have been different if it weren’t for Leclerc’s quali mishap but that’s the story of the season so far – Merc executing, Ferrari shooting themselves in the foot.

    1. people forget bottas early dramas last baku. he was super lucky then super unlucky.
      Interesting to see as usual the mercedes cars excelling at Baku, the mercs had a sligthly bigger rear wing but still held well in the straights and the racing points had their better race and pace. some things dont change.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        28th April 2019, 15:26

        @peartreeI

        don’t really know how he was super lucky then super unlucky exactly. I would say he was slightly lucky as that safety car only gained him 1 place as he will have almost certainly got past Hamilton anyway if he came out behind. The retirement was significantly more unlucky than his fortune was lucky. I think people remember it more because of how unfortunate the retirement was. If he won that race, I’m pretty sure people would remember he benefited.

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          28th April 2019, 15:36

          the i at the end of your name was supposed to be at the start of what i put but oh well! :D

  2. The stars: Bottas and Leclerc with honorable mentions to Mclaren and Stroll.

    The biggest flops: Renault and Haas.

    1. Leclerc? *facepalm*
      For what? Trashing the car? Yeah, sure, a “deserved” star…

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        28th April 2019, 15:33

        Yea i think Leclerc is a bit of a stretch. He finished nearly 60 seconds behind Vettel!!! Take away the pit stop at the end and take off another 25 seconds or so to be generous. That is still around a 30 second gap. Take off another 10 seconds for his not so good strategy. Still around 20 seconds. Consider that he started from further back, give him even more time. Despite his good start, Vettel was significantly better this race, for once this season. He started 8th, Vettel only being places ahead. Ferrari was still very strong here and this has to be one of the easiest tracks to overtake on. Finishing a very distant 5th in the end was not at all impressive from Leclerc in this car as this track given what Vettel managed.

      2. +1 on Leclerc. I like the kid, but he’s starting to get too much hype. He certainly didn’t deliver anything special this time around, binned it in Q2, overtook only the weaker cars on-track, and never looked like chasing down the top 4 even with fresh softs.

    2. Honorable mention to Perez and Racing Point not a single mistake, not in qualy, neither in driving nor race strategy. They delivered the best result they could.

      1. +1 also Perez was intelligent in not resisting too much when faster cars overtook him.

      2. GtisBetter (@)
        28th April 2019, 16:39

        They also did a double pitstop i believe. Great work.

        1. To be honest, Stroll did lose some time because of the double stack (enough for Ricciardo to pass him), but I suppose the Soft were too useless to avoid it.

    3. Say what? Leclerc did nothing special this race. And crashed in qualifying.
      And if any of the Racing Point drivers deserve a star its Perez, maximum possible result for him.
      Agree on Bottas though.

    4. What about Kimi getting to 10th starting from the pit lane?

  3. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    28th April 2019, 15:07

    Strange atmosphere at Mercedes after the race. Both drivers looked awkward in each other’s presence, maybe Bottas is playing it cool and Hamilton isn’t exactly going to celebrate 2nd place. Toto looked sombre as well.

    Is it now that the mind games start and it all turns nasty? 2016 vibes.

    1. I don’t think so. Valtteri was always different to Niko, Lewis definitely has a different mindset since that time, and Mercedes has also learned from that spell.

      Personally I don’t see Valtteri sustaining his Championship charge, though I might be mistaken, so let’s see after mid-point\summer break, when Lewis usually raises his game.

    2. totos problem is dealing with Lewis. its better for everyone that Lewis wins, his contract, publicity and also the fact Lewis is a top driver, they rightfully have more faith on him.

    3. Not yet. Hamilton could have cut off Bottas more aggressively at the start. As he surely would have done had it been Rosberg. However it does look like it could be down to the pair of them to fight for the title. The other three contenders are taking too many points of each other for one to catch the Mercedes’ drivers up. Either Bottas will fade, someone will have bad luck, or it will indeed start to get edgy.

      1. Don’t know about that. Hamilton gave Bottas a car’s width and no more in the first corner. Firm but fair, as indeed he was to Rosberg. Bottas just kept his head better than Nico did.

        1. “Firm but fair, as indeed he was to Rosberg” is an interesting typo for “forcing off the track”. Damn autocorrect, it’s a bit stupid really :D

          1. Don’t remember any steward having that opinion?

          2. @redaearedrabbit I don’t know why they didn’t. It happened often enough.

          3. @magon4 Well Hamilton wasn’t doing anything wrong in those cases. Hamilton was the lead car going into the corner and it was Rosberg’s fault for keeping his nose in the “disappearing wedge” over and over.

        2. @redearedrabbit It’s true that Bottas is calmer, however Hamilton could have feigned he wasn’t going to give room, pushed Bottas wide earlier or so on. They didn’t go into the corner as two team mates competing aggressively. I thought Bottas backed up just a little more than necessary in qualifying to slow down Hamilton, for example, but it’s all still subtle and gloves definitely on. As for Ham v. Rosberg, I agree, Hamilton was always within the sporting regulations, which is what ultimately counts. Rosberg much less so.

          1. The Ferrari challenge hasn’t materialised, looks like Hamilton has identified Bottas as his main rival and will adjust his strategy accordingly.

          2. @emu55 I think Hamilton knows he has the measure of Bottas. He just doesn’t like this track particularly, but he knows the tracks he does like are still coming and then he can pull away from Bottas.

          3. @emu55 Yes, he’s just been reported (here by racefans) as saying he was too friendly to Bottas at the start. To be honest it’s still fluid, had Leclerc not binned it during qualifying, he could have posed more of a challenge than Vettel I think. But the way things have gone in the previous two seasons, Ferrari’s challenge this year looks weaker already. Verstappen is impressive still, the Red Bull car less so.

    4. @rdotquestionmark – they just realized that acting like Ferrari is a threat is going to be a much harder job this season, far harder than their 1-2s.

      1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
        29th April 2019, 6:59

        @phylyp I said it in a comment the other day somewhere but I’ve just had this strange feeling of Mercedes being completely and utterly comfortable this season. They didn’t even open their cars up in pre-season testing they were so confident and seem to do the same all weekend until qualifying. Ferrari obviously have pace but Mercedes are on another level. Even the little pit start dummy in quali, they’re almost having fun with it.

  4. The hell happened with Leclerc’s second stint? He couldn’t switch on his softs then but had no difficulty doing so for his final stint with a rip-roaring fastest lap.

    1. I think that the first soft stint was ruined by coming out just behind Gasly, so by the time he was past the tyres were basically already gone.

    2. The softs probably need to be worked harder to turn on ar Baku. Qualy mode did the trick, but could nota be used for more than one lap.

    3. Vettel said his softs were gone after two laps, so I guess the Ferrari is simply bad with this compound.

    4. he ended up being so far behind that it wouldnt’t matter. He was 22 seconds to VER at that point.

    5. his first stint wasn’t even close to stellar, either…

      1. @magon4 I thought it was pretty good, he was easily the quickest guy on the track in the early going. I know he was on the preferred tyre choice but we don’t have much to compare with so I guess we all need to reserve judgement on this.

        1. you are right, he was the fastest. but after a little more than 30 laps he wanted to get off them, where others (like his team mate) were able to push for almost 40 laps. a little bit is circumstancial, but relatively, the seeminlgy good pace in the beginning faded when compared to what the others did with that tire.

          1. Remember, Leclerc was on the Medium from the start of the race, when the car was heavier.

            Of course the tyres will last longer if you use them when the car is lighter

  5. Gross strategy mistake by Ferrari. Softs weren’t working in the long run. So, do a stop when he leads by 17sec, 3 laps, another stop and get him back on medium 23sec behind the pack with 20 laps to go. That would give him a chance to fight for himself. Instead, they used him to hold the Mercedes and try to help Vettel again.

    1. Make sure you apply for a job interview at Ferrari this instant, don’t let this strategic talent go to waste.

      1. Well, he can do no worse there

      2. You fit more the Renault and Ciryl profiles. Lots of sharp words but no results.

      3. I don’t know I would call it a big mistake by Ferrari, but it’s obvious in hindsight that they didn’t lose anything running a two stopper, and it seems unlikely they couldn’t have been a bit quicker if they’d committed to it from the start. It’s speculation to say it would have made a difference to the result, but less so to wonder if the tv coverage of them leading the race is worth more to the team than the car maybe finishing a place higher.

    2. give me a break!

    3. you mean Hards? He started on Mediums he couldnt use them again without another stop.

      1. sorry i misread what you said i think

  6. Zzzzzz
    Teo awful races in a row.
    Barcellona & Monaco coming on, dear gadh

    1. Perhaps you should find a new sport to follow?
      Sounds like F1 isn’t for you ;)

      1. In fairness though: I love F1 and found Monaco last year incredibly awful.

        1. @redearedrabbit – Even with the thrill of Vettel hunting down a stricken RBR? :)
          That race would have been as dull as ditch water without that MGU failure.

      2. I follow F1 since late 90s, but i hate it’s turning into a tyre sport, honestly.
        Everyone was managing things today, only DRS highway overtaking.
        Not the sport i learned to like.

        1. I used to say the same in 2000-2006 (or so) when SCHM ruled…..I am much better now at enjoying the sport (and much older….).

          1. Me too.

            I stopped watching between those years because watching Schumacher win race after race was dull (especially because after the 1994 season and the shenanigans with Damon Hill, I couldn’t stand him), also, ITV was the broadcaster in the UK, and having advert breaks during races is stupid. Finally, I hated the refuelling era, just made races a series of sprints with very little variation in strategy

        2. F1 has always been ‘a tyre sport’, as you put it. Google Fangio and tyres for some examples.

  7. Max is starting to look more disappointed race after race. He did an awesome stint on the mediums making up 7 seconds. He might have been on the podium without that VSC but the redbull car is really not good enough. What a shame

    1. With Lerclerc showing so much potential I worry that Max could miss out on being WDC.
      Despite all his faults, Max is for me possibly the most aggressively competitive racing driver on the grid and I want to see him hold the title and stick up his fingers at the rest of the field.

      Red Bull and Honda now have the driver – they just need to give him the tools to do the job.

    2. At this point, Max needs for one of the 4 top cars to make a mistake AND place himself in a position to profit from it to finish higher than 5th in any given race. The fact that he has done so in all 4 races so far speaks volumes about his ability and his growth as a driver compared to just 1 year ago in my opinion.

      For the past two years everyone has criticized VER for not showing the racecraft that (the much more experienced) RIC had. These past 4 races prove that he has come a long way. The downside being obviously a lot less spectacle and drama ;).

      Still, I hope that RB improve the car enough that he can actually fight for wins on his own merits rather than be dependent on the mistakes of others.

      1. The benefit of ricciardo was red bull could split strategies and the rivalry pushed the drivers to extract the most from the car. Max looks like he’s coasting in a race of his own.

        1. True, I hope Gasly steps up his game, it would benefit Max as well as himself.

        2. @emu55 I also think Red Bull is missing the setup input from Riciardo. I doubt Gasly is giving any useful input at the moment.

          1. Where might Red Bull be had they been able to keep Riciardo on the team.?
            If they can start scoring points with two cars instead of one, it will give them a shot at Ferrari.
            That is until The Red Team figures out how to stop shooting themselves in the foot.

    3. @anunaki

      Max is starting to look more disappointed race after race.

      I don’t think he’ll be at Red bull much longer. Personally, I don’t think Honda will ever close the gap to Ferrari and Mercedes. Maybe they’ve made “tremendous progress” according to Red Bull BS PR machine, but he’s already complained twice about Honda’s engine braking issues in 2 out of the 4 races so far… and let’s face it… even if a miracle does occur for Honda, they might be close to Ferrari and Mercedes in 2021 at the earliest.

      He’s at the absolute peak of his game right now and hungrier than anyone else at Ferrari or Mercedes for the title. Toto has already started to approach him for a drive in the future, and if I was Binotto, I would be seriously considering a Leclerc – Verstappen line up as well. I just don’t see Max sticking around for Red Bull to finally come good. The sport needs Max in a Ferrari or Mercedes asap to make a championship battle interesting.

      1. “he’s already complained twice about Honda’s engine braking issues” – It is funny, isn’t it, that you hear only him complaining.

        “Toto has already started to approach him for a drive in the future” – Toto is laughing right now.

        “The sport needs Max in a (..) Mercedes asap to make a championship battle interesting.” – How would that make it interesting?

      2. @todfod Is Honda really that far behind on engine power though? I would guess the issue is more the shortcomings of the car/chassis which is holding them back most at the moment.

        1. @f1osaurus

          We don’t know for sure right now. We know that it isn’t the quickest during the race, that it doesn’t have a strong enough party mode, that it has engine braking (driveability) issues, and it’s still too early to gauge reliability.

          My point is that it’s not guaranteed that Honda will catch up to Mercedes and Ferrari. I just don’t think Verstappen will have that kind of patience.

          1. @todfod Actually Red Bull were analysed to be faster on race pace than Ferrari. We also don’t know how much their party mode brings. Looking at Q2 to Q3 differences is obviously overly simplistic.

            What we do know is that Red Bull have acknowledged that they have an issue with the chassis/aero:
            https://thejudge13.com/2019/04/05/red-bull-chief-admits-neweys-got-this-one-wrong/

      3. Ferrari as a team doesn’t look any better than red bull atm, in fact being at red bull would give more guarantees of chances than at ferrari, considering they have proven time and time again that they throw away every chance they get.

    4. The RB is a better race car than the FER. Max lost a lot of time behind PER, losing out against him in turn 2. His first stint was slow overall. He also couldn’t get his tyres to work after the VSC, unlike VET.

  8. Ricciardo and that reverse… If Vettel got a penalty for ramming Hamilton two years ago, this should be the same for him. Absolute stupidity.

    1. yeah, that move was incomprehensible. His right mirror should’ve been full of ToroRosso

      1. *left mirror

        1. I understand this from RIC’s point of view. When I play F1 on PS4, I generally end up at the back of the field and I think, “Why not?”
          Driving backwards into people is a hell of a lot of fun.

          1. It’s sad that that move would have worked if he was in a red bull, the renaults break pads must be made out of chocolate.

      2. F1 cars have huge blind spots, and Ricciardo didn’t see that the Toro Rosso hadn’t made the corner. As soon as he started reversing it was too late to stop.

        It was the most entertaining bit of the race, anyway.

  9. Once again most of the real interest lays in the midfield for me.
    Perez was brilliant and even Lance made up a load of places to secure his seat in the team …. his Dads team …. his team.

    Delighted to see McLaren back into the thick of it where such a classic name belongs with two keen drivers who’s confidence must be going from strength to strength these days.

    Kimi in the points from a pitlane start and Albon going good as a Rookie.

    I would have preferd Ferrari and Max on the podium (in any order) just to spice up the WDC battle but if Valtteri is going to keep this up then at least things could get spicy in the last half of the season.

  10. Surprised at how boring the race was, very poor performance by Hamilton. Bottled it twice at the start, didn’t really have that much pace and messed up twice at the end. He’s all smiley smiley but doesn’t realise Bottas is his main rival and coming for his title!

    1. Plenty of time yet. Swapping 1-2 positions in the opening of the season builds up a good cushion to the other contenders, which suits both of them.

      1. And the excuses keep on coming.

    2. Yes, yes…Lewis “bottled” it. Bravo young man, bravo.
      Lewis is playing the long game. He is “smiley, smiley” as her knows if Bottas is his rival for the championship, he has got it made. No disrespect to BOT but I’m 99.9% sure Lewis has him covered over the course of 21 races. Lets wait yo see it play out.

  11. Mercedes is really dominating now. 4 consecutive 1-2s at the 1st 4 races of the season. Has this happened before in the recent years?

    1. AFAIK it has never happened before.

    2. @knightameer

      It’s never happened before, full stop. Heck, the last time a team matched up three 1-2’s in the first three races was Mansell and Piquet Jr in 1992 with Williams (Which makes Williams current situation even more saddening)

      Though, in fairness Merc’s 1-2 in Bahrain only happened because of Leclerc’s engine woes.

      Gotta say, regarding the rest of the fiield, Racing Point and Mclaren good results. And Mclaren’s performance does seem to point towards Renaults issues being as much the car than the engine.

  12. Hopefully, this champ will, at least, be a scrap between the Mercedes boys because there’s nobody else with a car good enough to challenge them for real.

    So much hype for Leclerc’s pace… but his 2nd (and somehow even the 3rd) stint was pretty much a disaster. So, obviously, he had no chance at the win with that kind of pace no matter the strategy adopted… although some rushed to declare he’s fast enough to take the PP and/or the win. Apparently… not!

  13. Hamilton gave the win to Bottas in the first two corners by being too kind to him. He got Bottas at the start and should have been more forceful to defend his position into turn 2 but i guess he took it easy to get him on the long straight but by then Bottas opened up a gap of 2 seconds.

    1. Yep he was waaay too soft there and only has himself to blame. He probably thought he would overtake Bottas in a few laps but didn’t have the pace at the end of the day. Bottas is driving like a man on a mission, Lewis is looking sub-par.

      1. He was on the dirty inside line and gave Bottas very little space on the outside. If he’d gone for it, Bottas would have been in the wall.

        1. Utter rubbish, you do not back out of it twice when you have the inside line. Hamilton has now admitted he was too soft with Bottas, it’s errors like that that cost you titles.

      2. I hate myself for suggesting this, but – – – might Lewis be not overly concerned?
        So long as he stays close enough in the points then he can rely on his “Number One” status to give him what he needs in the last races of the season.

        1. he can rely on his “Number One” status to give him what he needs in the last races of the season.

          @nullapax
          You’re not serious, right? He has no unearned number one status. If they’re competing at the end, Mercedes will favour neither. What Hamilton does have in the bag is his exceptional quality on wet race tracks, plus his strategy over recent seasons of ‘saving form’ to the midpoint of the season and then doubling down. Over a season, he should be confident of prevailing – reliability notwithstanding. As the Mercedes looks mechanically sound, he is probably wise to minimize team friction for now. Bottas on the other hand might need to find a way to unsettle Hamilton during the season.

          1. “his strategy over recent seasons of ‘saving form’ to the midpoint of the season” – You’re not serious, right?

      3. When has Lewis ever started a season at the very top of his game? He is wise enough to know a championship is not won over half a season. If we are in the same position come Spa then I’ll consider Valteri a genuine contender. At present I’m just pleased Merc are racking up these points.
        Lewis knows how to win championships. Does Bottas? Let’s see.

  14. I wonder what would happen when Mercedes has the fastest car.

    1. Wonder no more ’cause everything is REAL!

    2. Then it’ll start behaving like a Diva. You know, nothing’s for granted.

    3. @sunrise no chance this season for mercs to be the fastest. Ferrari is the fastest car of all time.. Mercedes are barely faster than the Williams. Its mere luck and their super duper drivers that they have 4 consecutive 1-2s

    4. We will see when Ferrari actually manage to not screw up in quali and/or the races. It’s astonishing how they spend so much money on building a great car and then get so little out of it. Again!

      1. Just out of interest how do you know its so great? Is it be because Mercedes say it is?

      2. It’s not better than mercedes overall.

  15. Man, what a ludicrous moment for RIC!
    Maybe I’m harsh missing something among the past seasons, but as of now I’m starting to think he only has dive bombings at his repertory. Reverse-ramming the lil fella behind was quite something as well.
    Oh well, a bad car can bring out the worst of any driver, after all.

  16. What I did like is to see basically 6 guys on the same pace for quite a few laps there.
    This is promising, even with the Mercedes dominance.

    1. Yes, this made the race more interesting.

  17. Utterly annoyed. Not at the results, not at the race but F1TV.

    It died on lap 8. It died AGAIN.

    So I’ve missed the race entirely, and having to make do with the YouTube highlights instead.

    1. Same here. Lost Around 10 laps or more. :-(

    2. There’s sites that show full f1 races, as recently as yesterday and as old as decades ago, even qualifying.

  18. i’ve watched the replay when Gasly stopped .. he could have easily driven behind the first velcro (barrier) to avoid a VSC . such a bummer cause Max was only 1,5 sec behind Sebastian :( The soft tyre was horrible in this race .. everyone was quicker with the medium tyres!

    1. @arnoudvanhouwelingen He actually did go up the side road though. I really didn;t get why they brought out the VSC at all. By the time it started Gasly was well clear off the track already.

      1. i mean on the side road you have sort of two parts .. in the middle on the left you have a velcro barrier and on the right you can pass that barrier and park the car behind that velcro barrier .. that is what i meant .. where he was now it can be dangerous spot if someone miss the corner he could have crashed into Gasly his car

        1. Yep, which is what happened at Long Beach years ago.

        2. @arnoudvanhouwelingen
          It’s techpro barrier. I know the clumsy marshalla in Baku would like a velcro barrier :-)

  19. You fit more the Renault and Ciryl profiles. Lots of sharp words but no results.

  20. So what to do, something needs to be done to stop predictable processions.
    Add lead weight ‘penalties’, Bernie Sprinklers around the track or reverse the Q field, I dunno ?

  21. @Maybe Talladega will restore my faith in racing.
    NASCAR at an awesome track…Looks like good weather too.

  22. Well that’s 4 for 4 comfortably. Merc have won the WCC and one of their drivers probably Hamilton will win the WDC. I think Ferrari will be able to fend off RB for second.

    1. Yes, that’s it, got to see if bottas can keep up the title challenge over a long period, reliability will be important as well, and if ferrari and red bull can get some wins, they should be able to win some on pace.

  23. I do like the Bottas 2.0. He is showing a style and intensity that was missing last year.
    There is still the question about the 4-day beard and it’s affect on performance.
    The top 3 all have it, Max, in 4th, it just isn’t there. Perez, Stroll for eg, and all the others interviewed after the race, all clean shaven.
    With such an obvious performance differentiator, Ross Brawn has got to research this and the FIA needs to issue a technical directive to save face and balance out this performance enhancement across the grid. Not to mention the handicap it creates for female drivers.

  24. After the woulda coulda shoulda… I want to know why a pass for the lead of the race in a yellow flagged sector was not investigated as a violation?

    1. @heidenh

      Probably wasn’t yellow there yet. (And was it waiting to be vsc? Don’t remember, at least it’s always first local yellow then something more if needed)

      1. Sector 1 turned to a double waved yellow before Bottas passed the DRS line on the front straight. Bottas didn’t complete his pass on Leclerc until after they passed the Start/Finish line. Thus resulting they were technically in Sector 1. Even Localized yellows in the regulations still state “overtaking is forbidden”. I only want to know why this is ignored, especially when for the lead of the race, when they were handing out penalties like cookies the whole weekend.

        1. @heidenh @maxv Yellow flags are rarely for the entire sector, however – the sector note is simply a guide to help people know where the problem is. As long as the move was completed before the sub-sector featuring the yellow flag zone was entered, everyone may overtake where they will.

  25. Another Finn fight a Goliath and the rest of the world is watching ..similar WW2 scene?

    1. No mate it’s only a Motor Race.

  26. Now – I’m not a Ferrari or Leclerc fan (Oh Ricciardo, may your F1 dreams rest in peace), but that race really depressed me.

    Leclerc was clearly the fastest driver out there in the first stint and after 11 laps, starting many positions back, would have driven straight by Vettel had they not called Vettel in when they did.
    Why would they not go a 2 stopper for Leclerc (on any combination of meds/softs) and pit him at the same time as everyone else when he had position and momentum? With his pace he would have easily finished on the podium.

    I mean how much more exciting would that have been to watch – a guy with a clear mastery of that circuit (look up his past results at Baku), pushing hard for the whole race, while everyone else nursed their 35 lap old mediums home? He might have won the race if the usual pace car event took place as everyone expected.

    But in the end this is how Ferrari treat any ‘second’ driver. They destroyed Raikonen’s race on more than one occasion last year in the spirit of helping their number 1 driver.
    I think they are very keen to temper Leclerc’s progress early in the season to quickly create a situation where there is no doubt that Vettel is their primary contender for the championship. I think on pace alone (not to mention Vettel’s other well discussed issues), they might be backing the wrong horse this year..

    For everyone who is commenting on how slow Leclerc was in that second stint, he was basically so far behind the main contenders because of when they pitted him (timed beautifully to come out right behind Gasly) that there was no point in pushing. I think once he got past Gasly he had to make up like 29 seconds in 18 laps to get to Vettel.

    I still love F1 and I won’t stop watching but the whole thing made me sad given the possibilities that the early part of Baku threw up.

    1. They called vettel in because his tires dropped off. No strange theories about 1 and 2 driver now Leclerc ruined his own quali and race

    2. @dazman

      Leclerc was fast because he was on the only usable tire. The soft was useless for everyone it seems, throw away tire.

      1. Yep fair point- the softs effective operating window was tiny but I still think he showed enough that a Med/Med/Soft approach would have worked and I know they run these simulations on the fly and would have known this.
        I think they kept him out there to act as a shor term roadblock for the Mercs for a few laps to help Seb.
        They did this on more than one occasion last year with Kimy.
        Time will tell but I think this will become a story this year – sacrificing Leclerc for Seb too early in the season to establish their true contender.

        1. @dazman @maxv What really annoys me about the Ferrari strategy was that with the barn door DRS system in place this year, and the many easy DRS overtakes already seen by that point in the race (as well as in previous rounds), it was never going to help Vettel to attempt the block. With the DRS boost, it’s like trying to hold water in one’s hands. I was surprised it worked as well as it did, but it was never going to work well enough for there to be any point in trying. Medium/Medium would have probably gained enough time to give a “free” pit stop for a short stint on Softs, and while I get that Ferrari was even less happy on the Softs than the other front-runners, it was clearly capable of handling them when the stint was sufficiently short and sufficiently near the end of the race.

          I maintain that despite or possibly because of the crash (because it enabled the start on mediums that was necessary to have advantage over the Mercs on this occasion), there was a win to be taken here. Ferrari lost it. And as much as I want to believe the “they were trying to help Vettel” idea… …if that’s the reason, it’s not working for them. They only thing established by continuing to do this is that Verstappen and Red Bull will continue to look better than they actually are, through having more opportunity than they could reasonably expect to continue to exist.

          1. @alianora-la-canta

            Medium/Medium would have probably gained enough time to give a “free” pit stop for a short stint on Softs..

            Yes! It feels like they are playing from a strategy guide that was written 20 years ago..

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