Can Perez win two-in-a-row on a track he excels at? Six Azerbaijan GP talking points

2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Last year’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix winner Sergio Perez returns on a high after a contract extension and win in Monaco. Will he win again at a track where he has usually thrived?

Plus, will F1 avoid a repeat of the tyre troubles which blighted last year’s race? Here’s the top talking points for the weekend ahead.

Will Perez put himself firmly in the title fight?

Perez has fond memories of Baku, having secured a podium for Force India around the street circuit in 2018 and claiming his second career victory in Azerbaijan last year following the late puncture for team mate Max Verstappen. Baku saw Perez’s strongest showing after joining Red Bull at the start of 2021, makes the most of a strong start to springboard himself up to fourth, passing Charles Leclerc and then over-cutting Lewis Hamilton in the pit stop cycle to run second behind Verstappen.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Baku City Circuit, 2021
Perez took his first win with Red Bull in Baku last year
Although Perez struggled at many points through his first year with Red Bull to keep in touch with Verstappen’s championship-contending pace, 2022 has been a thoroughly different story. While Verstappen has been clearly the better performing driver over the course of the season so far, Perez has been far closer to his team mate and sits just 15 points back in the drivers’ championship after beating him and both Ferraris to the victory last time out in Monaco. A gap which might be slimmer had Red Bull not imposed orders on him on more than one occasion during the Spanish Grand Prix.

Perez may need to build up some more evidence before his credentials as a potential championship contender are no longer in question, but the best way for him to do that will be through another strong weekend in Azerbaijan. If he has one, then Perez could make the fight for this year’s world championship a three-way contest.

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Which side of Mercedes’ Jekyll & Hyde car will appear?

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, 2022
Will Mercedes rediscover their form from Spain?
The Spanish Grand Prix looked set to mark a pivotal moment in Mercedes’ season, with the first major upgrade package for the W13 resulting in arguably the team’s strongest performance in a race weekend so far in 2022 – at least in terms of how closer they were to Ferrari and Red Bull.

However, hopes that this would make the end of the team’s porpoising problems appeared to be dashed in Monaco, where the idiosyncratic street circuit caused a different kind of headache for both Hamilton and George Russell as the Mercedes rode rigidly over the many bumps. Hamilton described the sensation as like a “rollercoaster ride” and as well as being uncomfortable, it also limited the car’s performance. Mercedes drifted further away from their rivals than they had been in Barcelona.

Heading into Azerbaijan, it’s tough to tell which way the coin will fall for Mercedes in Baku. As another street circuit, there is a distinct risk that Mercedes’ stiff car will again not gel around roads built primarily for transport rather than racing. However, Baku is also anything but a typical street circuit, with some extremely high-speed sections and an exceptionally long back straight. With Mercedes’ Barcelona upgrades aimed more at improving the team’s performance in high speed rather than low speed corners, it could be that the final sector plays to the W13’s strengths this weekend.

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Time to rein in DRS?

Yuki Tsunoda, Nikita Mazepin, Baku City Circuit, 2021
Baku has one of the longest straights on the calendar
With one of the longest acceleration zones of any circuit in the world, let alone street circuits, Baku is the antithesis of Monaco in that there are clear overtaking opportunities around the lap. Unsurprisingly, DRS has often played a large part in creating these chances in previous seasons, with drivers benefiting from a major tow exiting the fast 18-19 sweepers before activating DRS for the final 700 metre run to the finish line.

However, this season, cars are able to follow more closely thanks to the revised technical regulations for 2022. The new ground effect cars will not only allow drivers to stick more closely to rivals ahead through the tights, twisty sections of the course, they also could make passes down the main straight more straight forward than ever before.

The FIA’s head of aerodynamics Jason Somerville recently said he would like to see the sport phase out the controversial overtaking aid in the long-term. Baku could be an important test of whether these new-look cars could create exciting racing in a DRS-free environment. However, whether the FIA race director Niels Wittich will reduce the DRS activation zones compared to 2021 – or even extend them – remains to be seen.

Will the softest tyres hold up under stress?

Verstappen retired from the lead after a tyre failure last year
Last year’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix was certainly a dramatic one, with championship rivals Verstappen and Hamilton both failing to score. But the circumstances that led to this were not ones anyone would like to see repeated this weekend, as Verstappen was the second of two drivers to experience sudden tyre failures along the extremely fast main straight. Lance Stroll suffered a near identical problem earlier in the race.

However, those failures were on the last-generation 13-inch wheels, rather than the new 18-inch wheels for the 2022 season. This year, just as they did in 2021, Pirelli have opted for the softest possible combination of C3, C4 and C5 compounds for this weekend, with Pirelli’s Mario Isola explaining that, as a street circuit, Baku does not place a high level of stress on tyres.

“The demands of this city track are still relatively low, as none of the corners take a huge amount of energy out of the tyres due to the low levels of abrasion and contained lateral loads – which means that we can have the same nomination as Monaco,” Isola explained.

However the strategies play out on Sunday, what must not happen is any repeat of the incidents that ultimately transformed the outcome of the race here last year.

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No more excuses for Schumacher

Mick Schumacher, Haas, Monaco, 2022
Schumacher’s crashes are costly
With his 28th consecutive grand prix start without a single world championship point to his name, Mick Schumacher is steadily rising up the rankings for most races in Formula 1 without scoring a point.

After a promising start to the season, Haas have failed to fully capitalise on the opportunities for points they have created with their much improved performance for 2022. But even more of a headache for the team has been the volume of incidents that their youngest driver has had over the first seven weekends. Schumacher missed the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix with an ugly, violent accident in qualifying, almost crashed into the back of Yuki Tsunoda under Safety Car in Melbourne, spun at the second corner in the wet in Imola, clashed with Sebastian Vettel in Miami and then crashed heavily at the Swimming Pool in Monaco, wrecking his VF-22 in the process.

After a series of accidents during his rookie year, it appears that team principal Guenther Steiner is running out of patience with the former Formula 2 champion in his second season in F1. Steiner admitted it was “not very satisfactory” for Schumacher to end his weekend in the barrier for the second time in seven race weekends. Heading into another street circuit in Baku, Schumacher needs to deliver a clean weekend, otherwise the pressure will truly begin to build on the 23-year-old.

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Can a fix be found for F1’s budget cap crisis?

Christian Horner, Red Bull Team Principal, Albert Park, 2022
Red Bull’s Horner is pushing for cost cap relief
F1’s decision not to replace the cancelled Russian Grand Prix with another round has gone some way to easing teams’ travel expenses in the second half of the year. However with inflation soaring several of the leading teams are sounding the alarm about the unforeseen cost rises they are having to bear in the second year of the budget cap.

Not all teams are as concerned. Alpine have argued against any relaxation in the spending limits, arguing they foresaw the increase and budgeted accordingly.

The question now is whether the FIA will act to ease the pressure many teams claim is unsustainable, and if so when.

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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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45 comments on “Can Perez win two-in-a-row on a track he excels at? Six Azerbaijan GP talking points”

  1. I don’t think Perez will be able to win or even be considered a valid contender in the championship unless Verstappen suffers a DNF or some other issues that make him not able to compete anywhere near the front. Despite the words, surely we all know Red Bull will work to get Verstappen ahead if they are anywhere near each other on track.

    DRS – yes, please get rid of it, or at least cut the zones. Not expecting that to happen though.

    As for the “problem” with the budget cap – first of all, it is only a “problem” for those that have more money than they can spend. Haas is nowhere near the budget cap, nor is a team like Alfa Romeo or Williams. But they might have to cut down on their development to make ends meat regardless of the budget CAP. Because their BUDGET has clear limits. And Inflation (and crashes) will certainly be eating into that. The Cap was put in place exactly to do what it does: limit the options of outspending the rest of the field by the top teams. So just leave it be, agree on a reasonable inflation correction for further years to make it stable over the longer term. That might bring all the teams closer together.

    1. I am sure the team has nothing to do with it I think Max does also very well on this track.

      Agree with you on DRS they can drop it.

      I think they were talking about inflation corrections which is marginal but your right with the smaller teams i don’t think they spend the budget and are way down on it.

      1. Yes, good point there @macleod. It is highly likely that Max will simply do great – afterall, he was running fine, ahead of Perez, last year too until his tyres gave up.

        As I understand it Red Bull and Ferrari (and McLaren and Mercedes too, although they haven’t been as loud about it) are asking for upping it by quite a bit due right now, this year already due to current inflation being “extreme”. Other teams point to it having been up to 7% already by the time they fixed their budgets and having had to take that in account up front. The inflation correction discussions were more about fixing a mechanism for the years after 2023 (the cap had been “fixed” at 140 now and 135 next year, but wasn’t fixed yet for the years after).

        1. @bascb Alpine has talked about the RPI rate of inflation being at 7.1% in November 2021 in the UK, but it is worth noting that is only one of the methods used in the UK – the other method used is the CPI rate, which was running at 5.1% in November 2021.

          It is also worth noting that Alpine’s comments are not giving the full picture – it is not just about what the rate of inflation was back in November 2021, but also what the longer term predicted rate of inflation was back in November 2021. If you look at the Bank of England’s monetary policy report from November 2021, their forecast for the coming year was that the CPI rate of inflation would spike in the last quarter of 2021 and would then run at around 5% until April 2022, before gradually easing after that point.

          If you look at later months, into January 2022, CPI was running at around 5.5% – it’s been from February onwards that the rate has significantly increased. When the Bank of England released an updated monetary policy report in May 2022, it predicted that the CPI rate of inflation would be around 9% in Q2 of 2022 and was expected to increase further to slightly over 10%, which would run from Q2 to at least Q4 of 2022.

          That has certainly been borne out so far, with the latest inflation rate measurements for the UK, which were undertaken in April 2022, showing that the CPI rate had already hit 9%, whilst the RPI rate was at 11.1%. Even if you had made a reasonable estimate in late 2021 based on the latest available data, UK inflation rates have nearly doubled in just three months.

          1. Anon, thank you for filling in some numbers to complete the picture and give some contrast. However, I feel your argument only confirms what I mention below in answer to Sjaak – which number to use?

            Inflation is predicted up front, which is used for budgeting. But then it is constantly being updated. And it only gets “fixed” at a rate more than a year after the fact. But more importantly, it is not nearly the same number everywhere. The inflation rates (CPI) for Italy for example is currently at about 6% (slowly going down already) while it was about 3% in November. For Germany it is closer to 7% currently and not rising as hard anymore (it was 5% in November). Oh, and for Switzerland it is still below 3%. So which number to use.

            Another factor that is ignored in the argument, is that the cost cap is measured in USD. Which means that it would have been about 103m GBP in November but now would allow up to 112m GBP (in EUR it was 120 million, currently about 130m)! So actually the teams can spend almost 10 million MORE than planned already. Which would already cover the inflation.

    2. +1 on your evidence-based comments on inflation. Enterprise must deal with this, and F1 teams must compete on that basis and not merely as marketing departments fighting for budget.

      Perez must drive flawlessly and overcome his own gremlins which sometimes hold him back, before worrying about team orders. Though he’s driving at his best & wish him likewise.

      DRS can surely become a circuit specific feature as suggested? I certainly prefer it over processions or fan-boosts

  2. I don’t think we’ve seen anything from Perez that gives me confidence that he’s somehow going to pull out a WDC challenge. Yeah, he won the Monaco GP, good on him, it was a fine race. But let’s face it, he was slower than those behind him and won only by virtue of strategy and a better qualifying position on a race where you can’t overtake. Again, it was a good job, but in any other track, at least one or more of the three behind him would have overtaken him. He still has a pace deficit to Verstappen, I’d imagine, and it will still very likely take shenanigans or just uncharacteristically bad weekend’s for him to pick up another win over Ferrari and his teammate. I don’t think Sainz and Perez need to be in the WDC fight to make this season interesting, so let them be the occasionally annoying second drivers, that’s fine.

    Inflation is a thing and it should be accounted for in the budget cap, of course it’s exceptional to have this much inflation this quickly, but it should have been accounted for from the start. 10% inflation isn’t sustainable for anyone and it’s clearly not going to go away anytime soon. I get that some people think that “poor teams won’t have a problem” but yeah, they also will. They will also need to increase their employee’s wages to account for the inflation, they will also need to pay their suppliers more, they will also need to ask more money from their sponsors to make up the difference. It’s easy to vilify Horner for pushing for this, but as someone that saw their energy, groceries, and rent bills dramatically increase over the past few months, I’d be hard pressed to argue that teams should be held to a cost cap and not be able to give their employee’s a pay increase or have to fire some of them just because Covid was a thing and Russia decided to invade another country and nobody cared to give the teams some breathing room.

    1. I’d be hard pressed to argue that teams should be held to a cost cap and not be able to give their employee’s a pay increase or have to fire some of them just because Covid was a thing and Russia decided to invade another country and nobody cared to give the teams some breathing room.

      If you raise the budget cap, you’ve defeated its purpose. Of course they should stay within the cap that is currently agreed on – it exists in the real world just like everything else and was already on a decreasing slope anyway, so all inflation is doing is speeding up the cutbacks.
      Remember why the budget cap was introduced – economic sustainability through reduced spending. Raising the cap is the antithesis of that.
      And consider the bigger picture – where does the teams sponsorship money come from? Those companies advertising in F1 will also be looking to cut their unnecessary spending too. Not raising it.

      Russia ‘doing their thing’ wasn’t the cause of inflation – however the knee-jerk emotional (virtue-signalling) reaction to it by many governments to (supposedly) punish Russia has been extremely damaging to global economics and population though.

      “Breathing room” would be a luxury for those teams who actually have the money – which isn’t all of them anyway. What about the rest?
      Doesn’t seem fair for them, does it…

      1. S If Putin hadn’t invaded Ukraine there would have been no need for what you erroneously call ‘knee-jerk emotional reaction.’ You’re blaming the victims here not the criminal.

        1. So, none of the countries that have placed sanctions on Russia are responsible for implementing those sanctions, are they @robbie?
          No point playing the whataboutism game – Russian military did invade Ukraine, and lots of other countries reacted by placing sanctions on Russia. No what ifs, no “It’s Russia’s fault” – just facts about the choices which were made.
          Many countries have not placed sanctions on Russia – but as part of the global community, they are still suffering economically as a result too. The sanctions have upset the global economy far, far more than the military action itself.
          What the sanctions have done is made everyone, globally, the victims. Not just the innocent Ukrainians, nor their equally innocent Russian counterparts. Everyone.

          But anyway, that’s politics – not motorsport.

          1. S Yeah true…hard to argue with what you’ve said. Nobody wins with this, including countries that didn’t even have anything to sanction Russia over. Not sure what else the globe was to do shy of risking WWIII though. Like you say, that’s politics not motorsport, but nonetheless relevant to the global inflationary concerns.

          2. Is that not a reaction on Russia agression? Russia didn’t react to return to their land so they are punished by it? You can’t blame the rest of the world on effects Russia did that is very simple.

          3. Is that not a reaction on Russia agression?

            I guess so. Whatever it is, it wasn’t very well thought through.

            You can’t blame the rest of the world on effects Russia did

            Nor am I, @macleod.
            I’m ‘blaming’ every country who has placed sanctions on Russia, for placing sanctions on Russia.
            Russia didn’t make them do it – they chose to.

    2. I get that some people think that “poor teams won’t have a problem” but yeah, they also will. They will also need to increase their employee’s wages to account for the inflation, they will also need to pay their suppliers more, they will also need to ask more money from their sponsors to make up the difference.

      The issue is though @sjaakfoo that while the bigger teams complain that the budget CAP prevents them from spending more money so they do not have to cut their development (i.e. they WANT to spend more, because they have that money available), the smaller teams instead have a completely different problem. Their struggle is not the upper limit of the budget that is allowed (the cap) but the fact that they have only limited funds available in the first place.

      When we raise the CAP on the budget, these smaller teams will still not be able to use more money, since they do not have it available, while the biggest teams WILL be able to spend more. Which increases the gap between the ones who can afford to outspend the competition. And as S mentions, it defies the logic of a cap.

      Unless we install a mechanism that means any money spent above the current gap has to be duplicated by putting it in a pot for the others to also be able to spend more (i.e. Red Bull and Ferrari etc. would be allowed to use say 4-5 million more, but at the same time they should put say 25 million in a pot for the smaller budget teams to also be able to spend), but that is clearly not going to happen.

      1. You don’t “raise the budget cap”, you adjust for inflation. The effect of the budget cap remains equal and thus so would it purpose. The money will be able to do the exact same as it does pre-adjustment.

        1. The effect of the budget cap remains equal and thus so would it purpose. The money will be able to do the exact same as it does pre-adjustment.

          That is simply not true @sjaakfoo – if the cap goes up, the richest teams will be able to spend more money. But the smaller teams will still be limited by their real budget (wich is lower or even far lower than the cap already) because they run out of money. So the spending gap rises.

          Yes, adjust for inflation, for the further years to make the budget cap stable, but which inflation? The worldwide average? The UK number (where many teams are based?), the USA (base of Liberty and making sense since it is stated in USD), France, Switzerland (speficially the Paris or Geneva areas where the FIA is headquartered)? Or specifically for each teams base – all of these can vary. And all of these will be known only by the end of NEXT year, so they would probably have to go for numbers from 2020 that ARE available, but those are far lower. So maybe take an average? All of that needs to be sorted out for the future. But this year, teams went in with a clearly defined cap. They planned their budgets when inflation was already at 6-8% (depending on sector, on area and many more factors), and we should have them stick with it and adjust for cost of crashes, for higher current cost etc. Afteall, it is the same for all teams.

        2. “Adjusting for inflation” is only relevant to those teams able to run at the budget cap limit, @sjaakfoo.

          If you’re a fan of the ‘old F1’ where the big teams spent as much as they wanted to and the little ones could rarely spend enough to produce a car fast enough to even be seen on TV (unless they crashed) then I can totally understand why you’d argue for raising the cap – sorry – adjusting for inflation.
          But the thing is that it costs Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari approximately the same amount to travel the world attending events as it costs Haas, Williams and Alfa Romeo to do the same. It isn’t a point of difference between them.
          Regardless of inflation, raising the cap in any way or for any reason further raises the spending power of the big teams relative to the smaller ones. And more spending power typically raises the chances for better results and higher prize money.

          1. I don’t see how anyone in F1 could have foreseen the continuing and growing inflationary effect the globe was about to experience back when they were constructing their budgets for this season. I wouldn’t increase the budget cap as that would not help the smaller teams, but rather if I was F1 I would give them a 5-10 mill injection of money for the added travel/freight expenses now being incurred. Sure F1 wants to rid themselves of the game being he who has the most money wins and at the same time surely they have a vested interest in having a healthy grid. And F1 has the money to make this unique investment to help right now.

          2. They don’t have to foresee anything, @robbie. Nobody can. But you should be prepared for the possibility…
            Clearly the teams that are demanding raising the cap are the ones who took a high-risk approach to their financial predictions and didn’t leave sufficient buffer or headroom.
            That is an example of irresponsible financial management right there, and is well known to be a massive contributor to financial difficulty, and ultimately, downfall.
            It’s okay, though – some teams have already made it clear they have no intention of sticking to the cap anyway, so the penalty for breaches is obviously pretty useless. They are wealthy teams with budgets well exceeding the cap, so they are financially safe.

            If F1 has the money to bail out the big teams from their poor financial decisions, then they’d be better off donating it to the poorer teams to increase competition. That’d benefit everyone involved with F1.
            Just look at what a close championship has done for F1’s growth….

          3. S I just don’t think it is reasonable to expect teams to have anticipated this particular amount of inflation that is happening this quickly. Hard for me to envision that the teams should have already been accustomed to budgeting for something akin to that which only now has hit the globe this drastically. Had they, all teams would have been experiencing for years now big surpluses in their budgets come seasons ends. Would it not have been just as ‘irresponsible financial management’ to budget for through the roof inflation that didn’t exist, including even for this season? I’m sure they always allow for some inflation, but the world is far far different than even just a small number of months ago. I don’t fault F1 teams for not having a crystal ball.

          4. I agree, it’s not reasonable to expect them to anticipate it – but I certainly think they need to keep a fair amount of their budget aside for unknowns.
            They could have written off 6 tubs throughout the season, or 8 gearboxes, or 20 front wings. They could have had a major fire in their garage, or had one of their containers fall off a cargo ship… They just don’t know, so they have to leave space for such unforeseeable things in the budget. No different for external costs such as transport, energy etc, as far as I’m concerned. Nothing is guaranteed 18 months in advance.

            I can’t get on board with the idea that F1 teams are somehow new to budgeting. The only difference now is that for many teams, their budget is a fraction of what it used to be. For the rest, it’s business as usual.

            I don’t think it works in reverse, no. Having money left over at the end of the year sounds like excellent budget planning to me. Profit. Keep in mind we’re talking about ‘only’ a few $Million difference than expected here (not a lot out of $140M)- if a team’s budget is that borderline, they are playing hardball with themselves.
            There’s no way I would run my business so close to the limit – and the only reason they do is because they know they can get away with it.

          5. S but they’ve been doing this for years, mind you not while being capped which is exactly relevant to the conversation, and what you might suggest of a surplus as being ‘profit’ others might suggest would be money they could have put into the cars. Of course they have always allowed for some unknowns. Reasonable unknowns. F1 has always been, in the modern era, about running close to the limit. These are extraordinary times, would be how I bottom line this, and I certainly don’t blame any TP for at least broaching the subject. It’s not like Horner is asking for some massive assistance just for himself. I have no doubt he is not looking to favour only the teams that can meet the cap either. I highly doubt he would seriously try to bury the smaller teams by attempting a money grab. I’m sure he is thinking of all the teams for of course they will all be incurring the growing astronomical rates together. Frankly I see it as a no-brainer that F1 help the teams with a cheque to cover off these extraordinary and rapidly growing expenses, but not through raising the budget cap that half the teams can’t even meet. Liberty and FIA know very well how close to the limit teams run. That’s what makes it F1. I just don’t see the need for Liberty to take a ‘too bad so sad’ approach towards the very teams that are the show. How would it look if Horner’s warning of some teams not being able to make all the races were to actually happen, even in a lesser degree than he has described. What if two teams couldn’t make the last two races? How would that look?

          6. As mentioned above @robbie the argument is somewhat diluted when you look at exchange rates (since the cap is stated in USD) – both for UK based teams and teams having their cost mainly in EUR the cap is actually about 10 million higher than it would be with last years exchange rates.

            Should we also correct for that rather unexpected jump?

          7. @bascb A valid point, I think. Not sure how stable the exchange rates are, and I have taken my cues from what Horner has said on this topic and he doesn’t seem to bring exchange rates into it. I’m sure that is complex and I certainly wouldn’t be able to know what their (F1’s) thinking is on exchange rates wrt budget caps in general, let alone now in this unique economic time.

            Perhaps if you have a valid point then that will be F1’s response (read denial) to a request for some financial relief for the escalating travel and shipping expenses. Hard to know how this will play out and if exchange rates will actually come into it.

          8. Giving the teams money to spend in addition to the current budget cap IS raising the budget cap, @robbie.
            There’s no other way to look at it.
            While half the teams may not reach the budget cap, half of them would then be allowed to spend more than the cap, wouldn’t they… Without penalty.
            What budget cap? And why bother with the concept, then?

            I think you massively overestimate Horner’s community spirit. He only cares about one team, and wouldn’t be too upset at all if the rest of them suffered.

            For me personally, I think it would be great if a team or two feel they have to skip an event. It would show everyone just how important it is to live within your means and prepare your budget for the unforeseeable, just like many other people and businesses have to do all the time. Giving F1 teams a bonus just because they are wealthy (but irresponsible) does nothing but show that they continue to not understand what a budget cap is for and how disconnected from most people’s reality they are.
            I know it won’t happen though, as none of the teams are in anywhere near the financial dire straits that, say, Caterham or Marussia were when they shut down. I’d suggest most of their travel arrangements for the rest of season are organised and paid for (or at least budgeted for) already anyway.

          9. No, off course Horner is not going to take exchange rates into the discussion, since that would completely unravel his argument since it already compensates for the inflation of the budget cap by allowing a higher GBP (or EUR) spend than they envisioned in November @robbie. The exchange rate shot up early march, then went somewhat down again and by now has stabilised at the current level where it is expected to stay there (just like Inflation).

  3. Will Perez put himself firmly in the title fight? – I doubt, although he could have an outside shot if he can remain relatively close in the points.
    Which side of Mercedes’ Jekyll & Hyde car will appear? – Either way is possible, although I lean slightly more towards this season’s standard struggles. We’ll see.
    Time to rein in DRS? – Not yet & Baku doesn’t have any other suitably long or otherwise suitable section for DRS, so no more than the existing two. The only difference could be an earlier starting point for the S/F straight zone, but everything will probably remain unchanged.
    Will the softest tyres hold up under stress? – I’m positive, they will. We’ll find out.
    No more excuses for Schumacher – Yes, but I’m confident he’ll improve his trend.
    Can a fix be found for F1’s budget cap crisis? – Eventually, yes, I’m sure.

    1. Schumacher has shown some signs of improvement, running in points position a few races lately and getting close to scoring. Indeed doubt perez is a championship contender, he needs special circumstances to win a title, like irvine in 1999, or maybe button in 2009 with the initial car advantage he had and a weaker team mate.

    2. Not that irvine won, just saying, barrichello, a slightly better driver, would’ve got his so wanted title if he had been in his place in 1999, also keeping in mind his wet weather ability.

  4. petebaldwin (@)
    7th June 2022, 9:07

    Will Perez be in the fight? No. Not even close. He did well in Monaco but it’s one race around an extremely unique circuit. He’s not been close enough to act as a solid number 2 driver for most of his time at Red Bull and despite clear improvements this year, he’s got a long way to go before he’s consistently fighting with Max.

    Which Merc will appear? Baku will be bumpy and there aren’t many high speed corners so I don’t think they’ll have much joy here. They need to not panic though. Their pace at Spain suggested they will be quick once we get back to the purpose built tracks where they can run their car as low and stiff as possible. The big straight at Baku means they’ll have to do the same here to avoid porpoising so they’ll be bumping about as they were in Monaco.

    Time to rein in DRS It’s always time to rein in DRS. Passing will be extremely easy with DRS in Baku – it’s all down to who has the most top speed in the engine. Red Bull have been good this year so I think there’s a reasonable chance they’ll qualify behind the Ferraris but will be able to get past them in the race.

    Will the softest tyres hold up under stress? Whilst I have no faith at all in Pirelli, it’s down to them to manage this and I have no interest in the tyres. Hopefully they provide tyres suitable for what is required this time but it’s a part supplied by a third-party so it’s like talking about the ball in football….

    Schumacher? – Baku isn’t an easy track… If I was going to put a bet on anything this weekend, it’d be him ending up in the wall at some stage.

    Budget cap? The budget cap should be left as it is. For some teams, their spending is limited by the cap so the money they can spend won’t go as far. For the other teams that won’t reach the cap, they are limited by the amount of money they can commit to the sport – again, that amount won’t go as far as previously. If you extend the cap, that gets the big teams out of trouble but it doesn’t help the smaller teams who are going to equally struggle to come in under their planned budgets.

  5. Something I have felt since Perez joined Red Bull is he’s been extra cautious around Max on track. With a 2 year contract in hand and the confidence from winning Monaco, we might see a more combative team mate.

    Either way. He has 3 podiums including last year’s win in Baku and was genuinely on Max’s pace at that race. I think the combination of slow speed corners and long traction zones really play to his strengths, so he has to be a favorite for a race win.

    But we all love Baku because it often produces crazy results, so who knows… It might be a Haas 1-2 😅

    1. I’d tend to agree. He is well aware of how well cemented Verstappen is within the team, if he was to start trying to call the shots before getting these wins under his belt he would’ve been dispatched just like Gasly and Albon, but he’s showed continual, incremental improvement, and after 2-3 wins it looks good on him more. He has great natural talent but I don’t think he’s commited enough to fight for a WDC.

  6. Perez? No, unless Verstappen has a couple more DNFs.

    Which Mercedes? Miami’s Mercedes, and that’s not a bad thing.

    Tyres? No problems.

    DRS? Baku is one of the few that could leave without it as of today. There’s enough room for a powerful tow. I also believe they will fix the DRS detection for this race.

    Schumacher? That’s F1’s motto 100%! You are as good as your last race’s result!

    Budget? Deal with it! Or don’t call it a budget. Maybe call it a suggestion.

    A big disagreement between FIA and Formula 1 has cost a great deal to F1! Why did this clash happen? And what are it’s sever outcomes?
    The relationship of the FIA and Formula 1 is under intense pressure. The Guardian reports the day after the Monaco Grand Prix that the premier class of motorsport is not happy with how the FIA is proceeding in 2022.

  8. If you want to assess the future for Perez at Red Bull you just need to review Mark Webber’s past.

    If KMag starts to have regular points finishes, Schumie is in trouble

  9. I already forgot that schumacher has had so many incidents. If he would be mazepin the story would be different. I can’t help thinking If Perez will win or get more points than max it could form some sort of Webber/Vettel scenario.

  10. Previous tire problems were due to debris, not the normal stresses

  11. Can a fix be found for F1’s budget cap crisis?

    Please don’t revert to Dailly Mail style scaremongering and sensationalism.
    It’s not a crisis, its barely an issue really.
    The headline should be “Can a fix be found for overspending teams before the FIA have to grow a pair and introduce appropriate sanctions”

  12. He won last year because his team mate crashed and Hamilton has the magic brake button issue…

    Two in a row? Come on.

    1. Exactly. I like Checo, but reading this site you would be forgiven for thinking the rest of the season was between Charles and him instead of Max.

      The guy had one (1) race in which he genuinely challenged Max on pace. Well done but lets not blow it out of proportion just yet.

  13. Sadly it’s becoming apparent that Mick has picked up the Ralf set of genes instead of Michaels.

    1. Still remember splitting a gut the first time I heard Michael’s brother referred to as Half Schumacher.

    2. Yes, I agree, but it’s not a bad thing, ralf still managed a few wins, he had a good car at times, like in 2001, 2003, especially in 2003 it was a championship contender, but never a dominant car, you can be a ralf and still be a decent + driver, thing is I’ve seen some improvement but I think eventually he would have to match magnussen to be considered at that level.

  14. Marko has recently given us confirmation it is still very much Jos Verstappen Racing. For those thinking Perez can continue to win keep dreaming.

    1. I’m absolutely convinced that if the number 2 driver proves himself to be faster than the number 1 he will take his place as new number 1, even in an established team, see what russell is doing for now, see what ricciardo did in 2014 and see what verstappen did in the course of 2016-2018, and also leclerc in 2019-2020, they turned a team into their own with their speed.

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