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).


Champion Elect
It was nice to see drivers getting punished for making mistakes.
i think i heard during an FP, that they said that this is a F1 street circuit for the modern age & i thought that was great adage. yes the drivers have got to use to the miles of run off & where they can push & get away it. like gravel taken away from parabolica in monza


Champion Elect
also a great fact ive just worked out as i was think of leclerc's consecutive pole positions, in F1 entire 71 year history, only 33 drivers have taken 3 poles in a row


Hello my friends. Old boy from Tennessee is very excited about this season. My boy #10 had another good day. These qualis have been wild. I like seeing those red cars hauling ass here recently too. Hope all have a great weekend! Hot here. Gin and tonic could help.


Staff Member
Did the top 3 all get a solid uninterrupted qualifying run in Q3?

I was reading some comments after FP2 and there were a lot about how Hamilton has been relying on the superiority of the Mercedes and now it's obvious that without it Verstappen is the better driver.

The Artist.....

Champion Elect
Brogan Leclerc and Hamilton both got clear laps - both got monster tows on their fastest lap - Hamilton from Bottas and Leclerc from Hamilton. No idea about Verstappen - as the coverage was really poor again - but no reason to think he had anything other than a clear lap.

what was most interesting to me was how fast the Mercedes (and specifically Hamilton’s Mercedes) was on the straights (And of course, how flexible Hamilton’s rear wing was this weekend - Sky did a comparison between Red Bull and Merc, and the Merc rear wing was showing similar flexing).

Hamilton could find himself in front, and with cars unable to overtake him during the race, even with DRS. (Of course, McLaren, or others, might put in a complaint about the flexing rear wings…


Race Winner
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The Artist.....

Champion Elect
Another left rear tyre failure

They should have red flagged after Stroll's incident. That's an identical failure to Stroll. The tyres are completely inappropriate.
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