Grand Prix 2016 European Grand Prix Practice, Qualifying & Race Discussion

As if to highlight the madness of a 21 race calendar, no sooner have the champagne bubbles dried on the Montreal podium and every team will be frantically packing to have their gear sent 5552 miles around the world to Baku in Azerbaijan. This must be without doubt the longest distance between back to back races in F1 history.

Azerbaijan is located in the Transcaucasia region between south west Asia and south eastern Europe. With a population of 10 million people it has a high rate of economic development and ranks on par with many European countries for human development, literacy and living standards. Baku is the capital of Azerbaijan, sitting on the Caspian sea is a UNESCO world heritage site. A city that has grown through the discovery of oil, it is now home to over a fifth of the population of the country.

Quite how this race came to be given the European Grand Prix tag, I'm not quite sure. Azerbaijan did win the 2011 Eurovision song contest so this may have had something to do with it but we'll never now. If that is the case, we may expect the European GP tag to be awarded to Australia at some point in the future.

The name 'Grand Prix of Europe' was given to races as an honorific title originating in 1925 and from 1950 onward, specifically in Formula 1. That was until 1983 when, at the 11th hour, Bernie was once again let down by the organising team of the New York Grand Prix. Brands Hatch circuit were able to step in with 3 months notice and thus that years calendar contained the first 'stand alone' GP of Europe. The event itself was deemed a major success and so the decision was made to continue with an event given that title. For 84 the race moved to a re-designed Nurburgring before moving back to Brands Hatch in 85 for the last but one F1 race to be held there. For a short while, Europe's once again dropped from the schedule to be replaced by Hungary. It then reappeared to be held at a rain soaked Donington park in 1994. Moving between Jerez, the Nurburgring and finally the much loathed Valencia, the race has finally ended up at Baku for this season. What makes this unusual is that normally the European GP title was given to the second race to be held in a country in a calendar year.

The track itself at 6km long is the second longest of the season after Spa. It winds its way through the old town of Baku and through some insanely narrow sections. It also contains a 2.2km straight before the start finish line. Everyone's favourite circuit designer Herman Tilke has been behind the pencil on this project. Supposedly designed to be the fastest street circuit in the world, what the lap times will be like here are anyone's guess. Expect the grip to be non existent for the best part of the weekend until the cars lay some rubber into the track. I would imagine there will be plenty of scenes of damaged carbon fibre, especially on Friday.

As for the teams, it looks like this is going to be a power circuit. Judging by their respective performances in Canada, Mercedes should have the advantage here but it's clear that Ferrari and Red Bull are now hot on their heels. With Bottas also putting in a decent shift at Montreal and the Mercedes engine in the back of his Williams, a fourth team enters the mix when it comes to belting down that insanely long straight. Nimble handling will be required around the narrow twist section between turns 5 and 13 so a well balanced car could make up some ground here.

It's almost impossible to predict anything beyond that. As I said above, the low level of initial grip, the new circuit layout and the fact that Canada has shown that the Mercedes lead is no longer as totally dominant as it once was, could see an almighty dust up or it could lead to a snooze-fest. For those who don't pay Murdoch's sport viewing ransom, the race will be shown live on C4. I'm not sure about everyone else but I'm actually looking forward to it.
 

steveg

Points Scorer
I think yesterday's race showed Rosberg more calculated and analytical approach coming out on top against Hamilton's all out driving . Its these situations where the much more calmer Rosberg might pay dividends
Five wins and absolute zero challenge in all of them. He's gained massively from both Hamiltons problems and his old team. Just a lucky bar steward if you ask me and and, if he wins it, the most average champion in recent memory.
 

Spinodontosaurus

Points Scorer
^Depending on what you call "recent memory" there aren't that many champions to choose from in the first place and even then you are being hugely unfair. Of the last 9 world champions I would rate Rosberg unquestionably better than 3 of them (Hill, Villeneuve, Hakkinen) and on a similar level to 2 of them (Raikkonen, Button).
That just leaves him behind Alonso, Schumacher, Hamilton and Vettel. I think almost every F1 driver in history would also fall below the level of Alonso or Schumacher, including almost every world champion, whilst Vettel and especially Hamilton look well on their way to cementing themselves as all-time greats.

If Rosberg wins this year he will be more than deserving of it talent-wise.
 

RasputinLives

Leave me alone I'm on Smoko
Contributor
Hakkeninen was far superior to Hill, Kimi and Button in his day. Don't let the after years where he couldn't be bothered fool you.
 

RasputinLives

Leave me alone I'm on Smoko
Contributor
Just to pick up the issue that Hamilton felt it was "unsafe" to try and adjust the mode settings

At the risk of a backlash I'd like to pick up.on this. The Thursday and Friday before the race both Button and Massa stated they thought the track at Baku was a step back safety wise. When told this Hamilton stated that if the two of them thought it was unsafe they could always go home. Has anyone asked Button or Massa what they think of Hamilton's unsafe claim? I bet I know the answer.
 

Hamberg

FOTA VIP, I've got the avatar to prove it :)
Contributor
Rosberg is being made to look worse than he is because he's Hamilton's team mate.

Hamilton is the guy that in his rookie year beat Alonso. The only drivers of that list that have had real quality team mates are Alonso, Hamilton, Button and Rosberg. Common denominator? Hamilton. Did any of them get a WDC against Hamilton? No.
 

Dartman

Podium Finisher
Rosberg is being made to look worse than he is because he's Hamilton's team mate.

Hamilton is the guy that in his rookie year beat Alonso. The only drivers of that list that have had real quality team mates are Alonso, Hamilton, Button and Rosberg. Common denominator? Hamilton. Did any of them get a WDC against Hamilton? No.
But the only one Hamilton managed a WDC against was Rosberg, aren't statistics annoying:D
 

Il_leone

Champion Elect
Hamberg The counter argument is Button is the only one who has beaten Hamilton

steveg

Some of those races Rosberg has won because he has made better starts than Hamilton. In Baku Hamilton had it all going for him and then mysteriously fluffed up in qualifying whereas Rosberg kept his cool and got pole

In the race they both had similar problems but Rosberg was able to calm sort it out unlike Hamilton who was a bit more frantic

The ban on radio instructions and start line procedure seems to be hurting Hamilton more and plays into Rosberg's strengths since they've been introduced
 

The Pits

Harumph. Again.
Valued Member
if I may be so bold, there do seem to be some shades of 2011 creeping in to Lewis' performances this season.

lets hope there isn't a reappearance of the Felipe magnet, as there's two of them now!!
 

Spinodontosaurus

Points Scorer
:o

Rosberg better than Hakkinen? Really?

Two world championships says he isn't.

It's not a popular opinion but I consider Hakkinen to be vastly overrated. If you look at how he performed alongside Coulthard he definitely had an edge, but it wasn't huge and Coulthard actually outscored Hakkinen in 2 of their 6 seasons together.
Coulthard had 5 long term team mates in F1 - Hill, Hakkinen, Raikkonen, Klien and Webber - and of those the only one who performed worse against Coulthard than Hakkinen did was Klien. Klien is actually the only driver Coulthard ever beat across their full time together (unless you also count the 3 races he spent with Doornbos and 4 races with Liuzzi, in which case he also beat those two), so Coulthard himself was hardly spectacular.

This is usually reflected in the few mathematical models that have tried to rank F1 drivers objectively, as Hakkinen is consistently rated much lower than popular opinion. For example (using results up to and including Silverstone 2014) the model created by the author of the F1Metrics blog rates Hakkinen as the 56th greatest driver of all time - Coulthard is rated 67th, Webber is 63rd, Villeneuve 39th, Hill 35th, Button 20th, Raikkonen is 14th, Hamilton 12th and Rosberg 7th. Rosberg's ranking is inflated due to his domination of an ageing Schumacher and due to the timing of the ranking (at the time Hamilton was only beating him 350-336 in points overall), and Raikkonen's ranking will have fallen now due to his recent poor performances, but they should both still end up somewhere around Button.



Even if you don't accept ratings produced by a mathematical model look at it this way - Rosberg has consistently kept one of the greatest drivers of this generation more than honest, whilst Hakkinen was himself kept honest by a solid if unspectacular mid-fielder.
 

RasputinLives

Leave me alone I'm on Smoko
Contributor
Hakkinen was the only driver to really push the greatest driver F1 has ever seen (Schumacher) in pretty much level equiptment and beat and kept pace with third greatest driver F1 has ever seen (Senna) as a team mate. His stats do not take into account his recovery time from a brain. Injury r the fact he just put passion for the sport in 2000 after he became a dad.

He is rated highly by people who were there and saw him drive for a reason. Schumacher always said Hakkinen was his greatest competition and that's not to be taken lightly.

You can't rely on stats all the time. I mean according to stats the average human has 1.5 legs.
 

TR

Rookie
I mean according to stats the average human has 1.5 legs.

At least 25% of humans is missing one or more legs?! :o I know that as a privileged white western European male my surroundings are not statistically representative for humanity on average, but I find that hard to reconcile personal observations.
 

Spinodontosaurus

Points Scorer
I would disagree that Hakkinen/Schumacher ever had cars close to level with each other.

Stats don't always tell the full story, often they don't in fact, but Hakkinen's reputation as one of the sports greatest is completely at odds with what he actually achieved relative to his team mates. In my opinion the only season Hakkinen could be argued to have been a top driver is 1998, where he outscored Coulthard 100-56 in a dominant car. Dominant cars tend to minimise the difference between team mates whilst midfield cars tend to maximise the difference, so scoring almost double Coultard's points is pretty impressive.
But that is the biggest margin Hakkinen ever beat Coulthard by, the rest of their seasons were closer and usually in worse cars where you would actually expect the difference between them to be greater than in 1998. Even the likes of Massa, who is hardly rated highly by most people, had 2 seasons where he was arguably performing at the level of a top driver (2008 and 2009).
 
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