Grand Prix 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix Practice, Qualifying & Race Discussion

What season 2018 has turned out to be! Many predictions from winter tests have been if not completely thrown out at least seriously frown upon. So far this year we've seen 0 races won by either Lewis Hamilton or Mercedes who were the pre-season clear favourites. All of this doesn't necessarily mean Mercedes won't bounce back and run away with the Trophies by the time F1 circus crosses the pond for second time this year, but what we have here is a much better product than most of what 2017 had to offer. At least they got my attention. However if you look at the top 6, you'd see the usual suspects, you have Vettel, Hamilton, Bottas, Ricciardo, Raikkonen and ... Alonso? It is a little surprising to see the Spaniard so high as many expected the McLaren to continue to stink this year. And it does but somehow Alonso finds a way to always be there. More surprisingly still not to see Verstappen, you'd need to all the way down to #8 to find him. After 3 seasons in F1 and having shown he's the top dog at Red Bull, the Dutchman was also "the chosen one" to wrestle Hamilton for the title. This has not been the case so far. Multiple errors, at least one per race, has marred his progress and has casted serious doubts about his capacity to even beat his team-mate. Ricciardo on the other hand is smiling more than usual with his surprising though deserved win (with a pinch of luck). Yes, the Aussie doesn't have the sheer speed than the young Max has but he can capitalize when an opportunity comes his way.

What to expect from the Azerbaijan Grand Prix? The very long, claustrophobic, twisty, non-forbidding narrow circuit was brought about more for political reasons than sporting enthusiasm. 2018's is going to be 2nd Azerbaijan's Grand Prix and it'll be the 3rd time F1 runs at the Baku Street Circuit. First time around it was named the "European Grand Prix" probably trying to tap in the heritage this name evoke. I guess they have forgotten what the infamous Valencia Street Circuit damaged the brand, 2012 notwithstanding. Compared to Monaco but with sections as fast as Monza, a real downtown circuit by the Caspian sea. The first race in 2016 was totally a Rosberg affair, was considered by our own panel of experts, the worst race of 2016 ( Nevertheless 2017 dramatically steered their opinion and instead it was "unofficially" named the best race of the year ( Really last year had it all; first lap mayhem, wheels banging, a plethora of drivers retired and overtaking! and a podium not seen anytime before or after. Even Canadian Lance Stroll, the prototype of a paid driver, somehow managed to score 3rd place, his best position since his debut. Ricciardo who had issues at the start of the race, can be seen at times overtaking 3 cars at a time and at the end winning the race in somewhat similar fashion to how he won in China last weekend.

Here's hoping that next weekend race is as exciting as 2017 and continues the trend of 2018 where so far it seems, anything can happen. Nuş olsun!
That's 'cos they've built him up and now want to knock him down again. 6 and 2 threes as far as I could tell, although if you want to blame someone blame the team for not making a decision and allowing them to get in to this situation. Ricciardo was clearly faster and should have been let through.
It was always going to happen, but that's Verstappen (that was for rhyming effect....) as FB said 6 of one (Max should maybe not've moved across) and half dozen of the other (Ricciardo hit him up the arse)
As a Red Bull and Vettel fan, this race didn’t quite pan out as I’d hoped, but it was thoroughly entertaining. The Red Bull situation is now fascinating. Team orders? Perhaps it's needed. Max won't yield and is a tad too aggressive at times, so this problem is likely to happen again with such closely matched team-mates.

If only Ricciardo hadn't blundered into him. If he'd backed off, then Max would have been rightly accused of weaving, and in a whole world of crap - he would have had no defence and would likely have been ordered to yield at the next opportunity.
I think his attempt to shove Ricciardo into the wall earlier had an effect on their thinking, thus convincing him he needed the double bluff.

He also did the Spa 2008 crime of letting someone past and then slipstreaming them, unpunished.
Talking of that, how id Sirotkin wind up getting punished for the Alonso incident, was he supposed to spontaneously vaporise the second he got squeezed by the renault on his outside?
Sirotkin was penalised for hitting Perez up the back at Turn 2, I think. Not sure anyone was blamed for the Alonso-Sirotkin-Sainz sandwich on the following straight.
Seen GP good race thankfully Melbourne is looking more like anomaly & fun final laps. A bit of mid race lull while we waited for the ultras. But thats just me i think spoilt by F2. Have to Feel for bottas, thats now Safety cars in consecutive races cost him 2 wins

Onto the many point, Horner rightly furious its isnt 100% 1 way. Both have to take some blame. I kind of wasnt surprised because i was saying lap25 - 30 "this will end in tears". Im a fan of his but Verstappen 4 incident in 4 races & seemingly just wont learn, he nothing other than short term mentality. You cant move twice in braking zone. this crash has been coming since spa. Because this is what everyone said in beligium (kimi expiernce stopped a bigger version of that at 200mph) Suzuka?? & Mexico. Also he was very lucky in prior laps because few times couldve ended in tears. he should let Riccardio go for his own race as much as the team. Because lost out to both Renault earlier & then made it much closer than it shouldve been to kimi with their squabbling

On kimi surprised at no penalty. Because ocon was the victim, you would thought that kimi with vast experience would know that door was always going to be closed on such a tight 90 degree corner & Nothing against perez great drive, another podium but highly confusing if your allowed to serve a penalty under Safety car. what was the point of the penalty in the 1st place.

Ive got to end on driver of the day. I was banging the drum preseason because he was outstanding in F2 & he proved it today brilliant drive from Leclerc not fortunate as he was running as high as that all race. Seems to be getting to grips with switch from F2 to F1
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I am starting to think that Max is solid bone ear-to-ear. He doesn't seem to have learned anything in his time in F1. IMO, if the Bulls lose Ricciardo, they will regret it!

Very true but red bull are dammed if they do & damned if they don't. Because verstappen is a very talented driver & you dont want to give your rivals that potienal world champion. If or when he can get his head sorted. But at moment his ego & overconfidence is costing the team constantly. Because some of the moves were near the knuckle for an opponent nevermind a teammate
A strange race on a strange circuit which has been designed to have accidents.

A safety car on lap 1 (it would have saved a lot of money to have started the race behind it).

Following the first lap accidents both Raikkonen and Alonso put on soft tyres to try to get to the end with no more pit stops although everyone knew that there had to be at least one more safety car.

Hamilton and Bottas could not get their tyres up to temperature; similarly both Red Bulls were in the same situation and early on only survived because Ricciardo backed off to avoid Verstappen. The red bulls fell prey to the Renaults on the ultra softs which was only corrected when the Renaults had to pit or did the Hulk commit hari-kari with one of the avoidable walls first?

Eventually the Mercedes drivers managed to get their tyres to work but could not make any real roads into Vettel's lead.

Meanwhile the Red Bull drivers kept on rehearsing for their accident.

Hamilton, having had a problem before did a total on his tyres making him pit for a set of softs which despite being new were no quicker than his old ones. Vettel was keeping a good lead with Bottas actually getting his super softs to work and looked like taking them all the way to the penultimate lap.

Ricciardo managed to get ahead of Verstappen so he could get first dibs at the tyre changes, a move which proved to be disastrous for the pair of them as Verstappen got the jump on him. Then when Ricciardo finally managed to get into the prime position for overtaking Verstappen decided to weave, Verstappen didn't think that was fair so he rammed his team mate to teach him a lesson.

In the safety car period all the cars but one changed onto ultras with Van Doorne doing it twice to give the mechanics sime exercise. Bottas got revenge for Melbourne for his team, getting in front of Vettel.

Just when it looked as though the safety car was close to going in Grosjean fell asleep out of sheer boredom, hit the wall and kept the safety car out. Did that count as two safety cars or only one; it will keep the statistical people in discussions for years.

At one time it looked as though the race might finish behind the safety car Charlie Whiting took a chance and let them go racing. The result was chaos, Perez was quicker than Vettel who had a hissy fit and decided to overdo things at the first corner and let the blood rush to his head. Bottas then showed the road cleaners where they had missed a bit of debris (Mrs B would have never allowed them to do that), punctured his tyre and lo and behold, despite not done anything to deserve it, Hamilton was in the lead and duly won the race.

A race full of incident but as far as I am concerned should have been transferred to Formula E.

DR is clearly capable of winning the WDC. If Max continues his crash-and-burn style, Ricciardo is, IMO, far more likely to achieve the championship than Max.

It wouldn't surprise me if today's episode, and the team's response to it, will have convinced Danny to go elsewhere (Ferrari?). If he does,indeed go to the red menace team, I think he is quite likely to win the championship.
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Red Bull could have always told Max to let him through and then tell Ric to give the place back if he couldn't make anything of it, but they preferred to sit on their hands. A management mistake as much as a driver mistake today, methinks.
Well, if Liberty are lookig at ways of spicing up the races, they just need to intersperse the racing with random acts of incompetence. 3 races this year where the outcome has been critically influenced by the safety car.
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