Grand Prix 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix Practice, Qualifying & Race Discussion

Welcome to Azerbaijan, a country with a rich history and which straddles Europe and Asia. F1 has been going to Baku, for a race around the city streets, since 2017. We missed the race last year because of the COVID pandemic, but we are back in 2021. We can look forward to 51 laps around an almost exactly 6km long circuit which includes a super long straight, wide enough for 4 cars to run together, and one corner so narrow the cars must go though in single file.

Previous years have been full of incident, including the two Red Bull cars taking each other out in 2018, Lewis Hamilton having to pit to have his cockpit surround refitted in 2017, the same year Sebastian Vettel gave Lewis a "telling off" for not going as fast as Seb thought he should behind the safety car and Valterri Bottas getting a puncture whilst leading and being forced out of the race. And then there is one of my favourite moments in an F1 race when Romain Grosjean radioed to his team to complain that "I think Ericcson hit us", when it was his own incompetence at having wound the brake bias all the way to the rear which caused him to stick it in the wall.

To give you a flavour of the country, which prior to the fall of the Soviet Union probably few of us had heard of, I had a dig around on the interwebz to see what delights a trip to Azerbaijan may offer. It's a country rich in natural resources, especially oil and gas. This presumably explains why Liberty Media see fit to run an F1 race in a country with no history in the sport, as they have a sizeable wedge they can throw their way to pay for the race. The President of Azerbaijan , IlhamAliyev, took the role from his Father in 2003 with nearly 77% of the vote. A positive mandate, although Human Rights Watch catalogued widespread voter abuse and fraud, the arrest of opposition candidates and police violence against journalists and at political rallies. In subsequent elections he has won with 85%, 87% and 86% of the votes. Clearly the population love him!

However, he is no mug as he's a close ally of Vladimir Putin and keeps the EU on side with what is referred to as Caviar Diplomacy. Many EU politicians have been investigated for taking payments from the Azerbaijan government and Portsmouth's own Mike Hancock was a well known apologist for the regime in the British parliament. Hancock is one of those politicians who you know what not to agree with as he supports it.

Fed up with politics? Sorry, but Azerbaijan, like many F1 race venues, is very far from being a pleasant place for it's citizens to live with wide spread reports of ill-treatment and torture, and many of the basic freedoms we enjoy being severely restricted.

On a positive not, if you fancy a holiday there Google answers says "On the whole, Azerbaijan is very safe. Since the country is ruled by a strongman who wants very much to increase tourism to the country, crimes against visitors are virtually unheard of". There is also some stunning architecture in Baku, old and new, and the Maiden Tower and Palace of the Shirvanshahs are both UNESCO world heritage sites.

So enjoy the Azebaijan Grand Prix, another which we can add to the list of venues we would would probably prefer that F1 didn't go to because of the despotic ruling regime, but hey ho they have plenty of money so let's all look the other way (me included).
Maybe this will be the year that two cars try to take the single lane corner together.
And who can pronounce the President’s name llhamAliyev. 😳😳
yeah its pretty bad that we race in these countries but then we also know that this isnt new problem hypothetically we all know F1 would race in Nazi Germany if they paid enough. but as sport they have to turned blind eye to it unfortunately because with budgets going in last 20-25 years from £60m to £350m & grid total spend from £550m to £2.15billion. they got to find the income to plug the outgoings

i like this race as we already have some corkers over the years in F1 & F2. problem my memory lets me down on F1 as i cant remember if things were over 2017 or 2018 or just 1 of the years. we had stroll on the podium & him drag racing bottas to the line. then we had bottas nearly despite crashing at T2 & going a lap down. then the race that Perez & ocon shouldve been 1-2 but took each other out. but then everyone left that race saying they couldve won

i was very shocked at how dreadful 2016 was, because i saw 2 races of the year contenders in F2. had high hopes & then F1 delivered 1 of the worst races of the year
Just so we know what a wonderful country we're dealing with here, Freedom House which is an organisation that charts the freedom levels of a population through a free press and access to a free and fair democratic process, rates countries on a scale of 0 to 100.

Here are some cherry picked scores for comparison:

United Kingdom - 93
United States - 83
Lebanon - 43
Vietnam - 19
Iran - 16
Cuba - 13
Yemen - 11
Azerbaijan - 10

Of course, if you wanted to read these stats in Azerbaijan you wouldn't be able as the government controls the internet.

Even more ironically, if you want to watch the coverage of the GP on Sky for example, again, you have no chance in Azerbaijan as foreign TV and Radio broadcasts are also banned.

it is pretty horrible cider_and_toast , & when cuba is more tolerant you know something gone badly wrong. but how much difference is driving here compared to aphardid South Africa. when F1 raced there annually despite the sporting world ostracizing them. throwing them out of everything

can you attach morals to a sport thats never had any
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it is 1 of the weirdest mind games relationships, because they are both doing mind games but both denying it. Lewis hamilton saying he doesnt need mind games because he been there done it 7 times, but then he hasnt had a full season title challenge from outside his team since 2008. & max is saying that he isnt thinking about the title race. its hardly Schumacher / Hakkinen. or sir alex & keegan

but then its natural that he will feel the pressure at sometimes, every sportsman does Andy murray said when he won wimbledon in 2013. he was fine. then he got 6-4 7-5 5-2. he was shaking so hard he could barely hold the racquet
Russell engineer deserves a medal for the radio message, "be careful, he's just doing a austin powers"
fail austin powers GIF
FP2 commentary update -

Crofty: and down to Paul di Resta who's track side
PdR: Yes, I love coming here every year as you get a sense of how close you are to the actual action.

That'll be because you're standing next to the track then Paul :givemestrength:
It looks like Mercedes being softer on their tyres could be a disadvantage in Qualifying,but come back to them in the race. It was interesting to see after 6 laps Charles Leclerc’s mediums had gone, whilst Hamilton on his Mediums was not much slower than the Red Bulls on the softs after 7 laps.
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