Conclusions from the Baku GP


After last year’s bore it was a good, albeit amateurish, Azerbaijan GP, a race in which Sebastian Vettel saw red.

And Breathe…It Was A Good ‘Un. Amateurish, But Good
That was fun, wasn’t it? Most of the excitement was the result of some amateurish and reckless driving from half the drivers on the grid grid, but it all contributed to the best race of the season so far.

From Lewis Hamilton “brake-testing” Sebastian Vettel to the drivers not learning that the “kerb is not your friend” to the Force India team-mates taking the “we are free to race each other” policy too far and Hamilton’s headrest coming loose. It had a bit of everything, didn’t it.

Some amateurish behaviour on display on Sunday…
– Valterri Bottas and Esteban Ocon both learning the hard way not to go over the kerbs
– Ferrari and Force India fixing Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez’s cars outside the fastlane
– Seb Vettel losing his cool (more on that below)
– Drivers not giving a hoot when up against their team-mates (we look forward to the next Team-Mate Wars edition)

“Will Baku deliver this season?” was the main question PlanetF1 asked in the build-up to the Azerbaijan Grand Prix and the answer to that was an emphatic yes.

Over to you Austria.

Seb Sees Red
Over the years we have seen plenty of hand waving from drivers when they feel they were hard done by one of their rivals, but rarely have we seen something so close to a road-rage incident like Seb trying to drive into Hamilton after he was “brake-tested”.

It was silly, petulant and dangerous from the Ferrari driver, especially with the wall so close, and it looks like the bromance with Hamilton is now something of the past after the Merc driver told the German he “disgraced himself”.

That was a bit Michael-Schumacher-esque from Vettel. During his stint with Merc, Schumacher squeezed Rubens Barrichello very close to the wall at the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2010 while his ruthless streak was also on show during the Canadian Grand Prix the same year when he nearly took out Robert Kubica and Felipe Massa.

Schumacher would have been castigated if he had done what Vettel did in Baku, and the current Ferrari driver should not be surprised if he receives similar treatment.

In the end it didn’t cost Vettel as he extended his lead over Hamilton in the Championship to 14 points thanks to the Mercedes driver’s headrest incident. Of course, if he is someone who looks at his glass half empty, then his lead could’ve been bigger as he could’ve won the race.

Where Did Daniel Ricciardo Come From?
He played second fiddle to Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen most of the race weekend and started P10. He dropped further down the order after being forced to make an early pit stop yet somehow Daniel Ricciardo ended up victorious.

The Australian always comes across as one of the most optimistic drivers on the grid, but even he would not have been believed his luck when he finished ahead of the Championship contenders.

He has been there or thereabout the whole season and team-mate Verstappen must be hoping that a breeze spreads some of Ricciardo’s good fortune to his side of the Red Bull garage.

Speaking Of Verstappen…
Four retirements in eight races don’t make pretty reading for the Dutchman. Word on the street before the race got underway in Baku was that both Max Verstappen and his father Jos were not very happy with Red Bull as they don’t believe the Milton Keynes team will be able to provide him with a Championship-challenging car and their mood will not have improved after the race, despite Ricciardo’s win.

Mercedes and Ferrari may be happy with their current line-ups, but drivers as talented as Verstappen don’t come along too often and they should be going all out to sign him if he becomes available for the 2018 season.

Stroll On A Roll
Over to the other teenager on the grid, Lance Stroll, who has only gone and shut up his detractors with a podium finish.

After claiming his first points at Montreal and joining Jacques and Gilles Villeneuve on the list of Canadians to score points in F1, Richard F Rose warned that Stroll “has a long way to go to even be spoken of in the same breath as his peers like [Force India’s Esteban] Ocon, Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein, or Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr”.

Well, he has only gone an outdone them and Ocon, Wehrlein and Sainz Jr. must be casting a jealous eye to the Canadian.

Also, kudos to the way Williams for the way they handled the situation when Stroll came under pressure after making a poor start to his F1 career.

Adding Fuel To The STR Flames
Toro Rosso may be “more than happy” to retain Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat for the 2018 season, but the relationship between the two drivers is turning sour, and at a pretty rapid rate.

After being accused of “not respecting” team arrangements by Sainz after the Canadian GP, Kvyat hit back saying he’s not sure if he “wants to collaborate” with his team-mate in future.

As fate would have it, the two were involved in another “incident” in Baku and Sainz was quick to blame Kvyat, but replays showed that there was no contact.

Sainz has been the man delivering points for STR, but he is now under pressure as he has been called out by the likes of Felipe Massa and Romain Grosjean for dangerous driving. And Grosjean knows more than anyone how a bit of pressure from your peers can affect your racing.

Now would be a good time for the Spaniard to get his head down and do his talking on the track instead of providing rent-a-quotes about how he wants a title opportunity in 2018.

Shahida Jacobs