What did we learn from Baku?


Well, we learned that the capital of Azerbaijan is called Baku and they have castles, both old and new, and the circuit has a straight long enough to get an A380 airborne. To be honest, we didn’t learn much more, other than more ridiculous FIA rules and regulations (more on that later).
Winner all the way was Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) who took pole position on the Saturday and from there never looked back. Pole, fastest lap, leading every lap of the race and winning. It doesn’t get much better than that.
The only car/driver that could have challenged Rosberg was his team mate World Champion Lewis Hamilton. However, Hamilton wrong-footed himself on the Saturday Qualifying clobbering a wall and ending up 10th on the grid. Come Sunday, and Hamilton found he was down on power from the hybrid electric power.
Now comes the farce. The FIA has mandated that Pit Wall is not allowed to correct settings in the car, only the driver can do this. Unfortunately for the frustrated Hamilton, the Pit Wall is not allowed to tell the driver what to do to correct a settings problem. This led to the following exchange between Hamilton and Bonnington, his engineer.
Bonnington, (lap 31): “The problem appears to be with the current mode that you are in.”
Hamilton: “I don’t know what you mean. I don’t know what’s wrong.”
Hamilton, (lap 33): “This is ridiculous guys. I don’t know, I’m looking at my fricking dash every five seconds trying to find the switch in the wrong position.”
Bonnington: “Lewis, it’s nothing you’re doing wrong, just got a setting that’s incorrect.”
Hamilton: “I might not finish the race, I’m going to try and change everything.”
Bonnington: “We don’t advise that, Lewis.”
Hamilton, lap 34: “Can I make suggestions and you tell me if that’s okay?”
Bonnington: “Nope, that’s not allowed.”
Hamilton: “I’m bored looking at my fricking dashboard every five seconds.”
This led to the frustrated Bonnington saying: “You just need to get your head down and focus on the job.” His focus on the job got him to 5th at the flag, which was as good as he was going to get. (The words ‘toys’ and ‘pram’ come to mind!)
Behind Rosberg, and a long way behind, came Vettel (Ferrari) who had kept his nose clean, other than having a blue plastic shopping bag stuck to it. (Azerbaijan will introduce legislation that all shopping bags are to be of clear plastic by next year.)
Vettel’s team mate, Laughing Boy Kimi Raikkonen, had run over a white line marking pit lane entry and was given a five second penalty by the stewards, demoting Kimi from 3rd to 4th, which he consolidated by letting Perez (FIndia) through on the last lap to take the final podium position as well. Kimi, by this stage, was thinking more of a post race vodka or similar, rather than banging wheels with the Mexican, as with the five second penalty he was already demoted.
Perez drove a well planned race and had kept in contact with the Ferrari’s, though a long way behind the Mercedes up front (25 seconds). This year, he has outdriven the (once) well fancied German Hulkenberg in the other FIndia, who came 9th.
The two Williams drivers were never in touch, with Bottas 6th and Massa 10th, courtesy of their more powerful Mercedes engines.
With the power deficit of their Renault engines, Red Bulls were left grazing in 7th (Ricciardo) and 8th (Verstappen).
It was not an exciting Grand Prix with 95 percent of all passing being done at the end of the straight, thanks to the incredibly long ‘runway’ and DRS.
1 N Rosberg Mercedes
2 S Vettel Ferrari
3 S Perez Force India
4 K Raikkonen Ferrari
5 L Hamilton Mercedes
6 V Bottas Williams
7 D Ricciardo Red Bull
8 M Verstappen Red Bull
9 N Hulkenberg Force India
10 F Massa Williams
The next GP is in Austria, July 3rd.