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).
How bonkers was that?

Sergio definitely did what was expected of him as RBR number 2. Ready to take advantage of any issues.

Bottas looked even worse than usual. You have to wonder if he'll see the season out.
If I was Toto Id tell Lewis that they got away very lightly given the weekend that Red Bull would scored 1-2 and Kax had fastest lap that meant he would have lost 11pts further. With Singapore cancelled that would have been another Red Bull win so this championship is wide open
How bonkers was that?

Sergio definitely did what was expected of him as RBR number 2. Ready to take advantage of any issues.

Bottas looked even worse than usual. You have to wonder if he'll see the season out.
This is unthinkable by Mercedes and Toto but they are faced with serious competition now and Bottas is so off the pace now 8ts worrying....when do they call on Russell or is it Hulkenberg then?
Given that the race has been red flagged, if they were to abandon the race, they'd count back, and would Verstappen win?
yes i believe so, we had hard enough time, explaining to people why Leclerc was on pole in monaco, trying to explain why verstappen won despite being the 1 to end the race. would be even tougher

That's an "oops" for Hamilton
1st race now for 8 years that hamilton has finished but not in the points. spanish gp 2013
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