by M.C. – foto: @MercedesAMGF1 | Urban circuits are notoriously spectacular: their unusual layouts make Formula 1 competitions unpredictable and extremely exciting. Despite only in his third edition, the Baku circuit has become one of the best of its kind. The Azerbaijan GP 2018 has been a prime example of a chaotic, dramatic and illogical (as far as strategy is concerned), but nonetheless memorable and masterly race for everyone… Amidst the mayhem, Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) has come out triumphant, with a victory that not even himself was expecting.
After plenty of crashes, withdrawals, safety cars, etc., Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) seemed to be destined for victory, but at just three laps from the finish line a punctured tire took the win away from him and handed it to his team-mate Hamilton, making him the new leader. This was only the last misfortune in a compelling Grand Prix saw plenty of burst tyres, as in Sebastian Vettel’s case (Ferrari), who ended in fourth position; unexpected mistakes such as that of Grosjean (Haas Team) in the middle of the safety car; foolish crashes like that of Sergei Sirotkin (Williams) with Fernando Alonso; and a fratricidal war between Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen (Red Bull)…
Alonso and Red Bull, two very different stories
Hamilton and Bottas’ was not the only drama of the day. Behind them, Red Bull pilots seemed to be honouring the Bull that represents them by ramming each other. In Baku, it was Ricciardo who crashed into Verstappen from behind, but previously it had been the insubordinate Dutch who was trying to stop his Australian team-mate from progressing in every possible way. Despite being one of the few scuderias which could rival Mercedes and Ferrari, Red Bull seems to have a conflict of roles and egos. The enemy lies within.
McLaren’s Fernando Alonso gave another great performance. Things were looking quite bleak for the Spaniard when Sirotkin damaged his car on the opening lap and he could hardly make it to the pit-lane with two puncture tyres. With his vehicle mended as best as it was possible, he returned to the track and, not only managed to finish the race but began a steady climb, at times aided by the safety cars, from the seventeenth to the seventh position. All in all a remarkable achievement considering he is driving a car which is admittedly still under development. The Spaniard has managed to earn points for a fourth consecutive GP, something unthinkable in the last few years, and his dexterity in Baku was such that he himself declared it had been the best race of his life.
Other noteworthy victors were Kimi Raikkonen, Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz. The Finnish driver from Ferrari made the podium again with a second position and showing a very unassuming way of remaining on top. Sergio Perez came third with Force India consolidating the rebirth of a scuderia which has been promising right from the classification rounds. Finally, the Spaniard of Renault finished fifth, advancing his position and demonstrating again his consistency as a driver.
Next date: The Spanish Grand Prix at the Catalonia circuit.
Results Azerbaijan GP:
- Lewis Hamilton (Gbr/Mercedes) 25 pts
- Kimi Räikkönen (Fin/Ferrari)) 18 pts
- Sergio Pérez (Mex/Force India) 15 pts
- Sebastian Vettel (Ger/Ferrari) 12 pts
- Carlos Sainz (Hol/Red Bull) 10 pts
2018 Driver Standings F1:
- Lewis Hamilton (Gbr/Mercedes 70 pos
- Sebastian Vettel (Ger/Ferrari) 66 pts
- Kimi Räikkönen (Fin/Ferrari) 48 pts
- Valtteri Bottas (Fin/Mercedes) 40 pts
- Daniel Ricciardo (Aus/Red Bull) 37 pts