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 (http://cliptheapex.com/threads/CTA-race-of-the-year-2016.7848/#post-315885). Nevertheless 2017 dramatically steered their opinion and instead it was "unofficially" named the best race of the year (http://cliptheapex.com/threads/CTA-race-of-the-year-2017.8023/page-2#post-333066). 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!
 

dinsdale

Spectator
Have only just finished watching it. Thought it was a pretty cruddy race really, although not without entertainment, but most of the interesting bits were mistakes, unnecessary crashes and bad luck.

On the bright side teams I support benefitted from the errors, but the down side is that Verstappen's (and to some extent Ricciardo's) immaturity has transformed what was almost a three way title race into a definite two way race.

It does seem as if the design of the circuit forces oddly unprofessional mishaps.
 

vintly

Mostly bacon
Contributor
Agree dinsdale about the incidents mostly being negative, and a circuit that forces oddly unprofessional mishaps is fine by me – the track has really grown on me. The long straight provides overtaking opportunities that don't require DRS, and the tweaky windy conditions seemed to catch drivers out in ways that don't happen elsewhere. I like the variety, and over time there should be a reduction in unnecessary first lap drama. Verstappen's first pass on Ricciardo and some of their duelling was fantastic, and Vettel's mistake at the end although not positive for him was a highlight for it's excitement I thought.
 

RasputinLives

Leave me alone I'm on Smoko
Contributor
I find it kind of funny that Vettel is copping some critiscm for 'blowing it' by going for the move on Bottas for the win when a couple of weeks ago Bottas was copping critiscm for not going for a move for the win on Vettel.

Kind of shows there are no easy choices in F1
 
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Chasz

Podium Finisher
I find it kind of funny that Vettel is copping some critiscm for 'blowing it's by going for the move on Bottas for the win when a couple of weeks ago Bottas was copping critiscm for not going for a move for the win on Vettel.

Kind of shows there are no easy choices in F1

I agree you are up for criticism whatever you do.

The only difference between the two scenarios is that if BOT went for it in Bahrain then even if he overshot his breaking he would still have been 2nd (barring a crash). Clearly VET lost more positions as a result of going in way too hot.
 

Greenlantern101

Super Hero And All Round Good Guy
Contributor
BBC poll of who was to blame.
Formula 1: What happens when team-mates collide?

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