Formula One in Baku: Just what the sport needed

Phil Wishart Roar Rookie

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    Dan Ricciardo drives the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

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    Isn’t it great when Formula One doesn’t go to plan?

    The normal procession around the track was nowhere to be seen at Baku this weekend, as the season saw a new winner, a new driver on the podium and some experienced veterans doing some very silly things.

    Drivers were throwing their toys out of the cot all weekend, frustrated by cold tires and slow safety cars. Radio calls were filled with expletives and no one was spared an unexpected pit stop or a trip into the wall.

    Debris lay strewn across the track, forcing multiple safety cars and ultimately a mid-race red flag on lap 21. But the fans loved it!

    Championship front-runners Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton reignited their fierce rivalry on track with some interesting driving strategies behind the safety car.

    Hamilton slammed on the breaks, angering Vettel who retaliated by running into the side of the Mercedes. The race stewards appropriately awarded Vettel a ten-second stop-go penalty for his trouble, dropping him from second to sixth on the road.

    Hamilton then relinquished the lead, forced to pit due to a safety concern with his headrest coming loose after the race restart.

    Finally, we had the chance to see something different to business as usual in Formula One. Fans could not complain about a lack of action and overtaking in this race. Instead of complaining about how boring the race was, social media was lit up with excitement, chaos memes and debate about how big Vettel’s penalty should be.

    But what about the result? And what of our Aussie hero Daniel Ricciardo, I hear you ask?

    When the race started, the smiling assassin was sitting in tenth place on the grid, having crashed in qualifying the previous day. After a quick stint in ninth, debris slowed his car, forcing a pit stop and a drop down to 16th place.

    Ricciardo worked his way through the field, avoiding future incidents, and by the time the race was red flagged at lap 21 he had moved up to fifth. Surely a podium would be an incredible result based on the day so far?

    Ricciardo stormed out of the blocks from the restart, quickly overtaking the two Williams cars to move into third. Next minute, Vettel copped a penalty from the stewards, while Hamilton was forced into the pits, leaving the door wide open for Ricciardo to take the lead – the first time Red Bull had led a lap all race.

    Ricciardo went on to win the race, holding off the entire field for more than half the race.

    “That was fun. That was very fun,” an exhausted Ricciardo said prior to the presentation. “Hopefully everyone enjoyed that.”

    Well Daniel, we did. Say what you want, but Formula One needed a race like Baku to engage fans. It may not have been conventional, but boy it was fun to watch!

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    The Crowd Says (14)

    • June 26th 2017 @ 10:31am
      dan ced said | June 26th 2017 @ 10:31am | ! Report

      Great race, love seeing RIC on a podium and especially winning.. but Force India threw an easy (possibly double) podium away. Hulkenberg hitting the wall also lost himself a potential big bag of points.

      Vettel has tantrums like a small child, which always stops me warming to him (regardless I have a deep hatred for him from the Webber years) He should almost be banned for a race for that stunt.

      Good job from Bottas to put in a great last lap and steal 2nd on the line. Now where do I get those extra hours of sleep baku?

      • Roar Rookie

        June 26th 2017 @ 2:28pm
        Phil Wishart said | June 26th 2017 @ 2:28pm | ! Report

        My personal favourite was Hamilton’s radio tantrum to Charlie.

        I thought Vettel had turned a corner in terms of maturity – evidently not! More action has to come.

        Definitely feeling the lack of sleep but it was worth it.

    • June 26th 2017 @ 12:20pm
      Damo said | June 26th 2017 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

      Great race! But it really showed what a cotton-wool world some of these drivers live in. That said it’ll improve viewership by a few millions for Austria in a couple of weeks, so the FIA will be happy.

      • June 27th 2017 @ 9:05am
        Bamboo said | June 27th 2017 @ 9:05am | ! Report

        The FIA don’t get a cent, and really don’t have much input bar setting the dates.

        They sold their input to everything else for the sake of cash flow (and 1% under CVC/Bernie) to the point where their presence is, at best, ceremonial.

    • Roar Guru

      June 26th 2017 @ 1:18pm
      Red Kev said | June 26th 2017 @ 1:18pm | ! Report

      Hamilton did not slam on the brakes by the way.

      He slowed into the corner then didn’t accelerate out of it because he needed to let the safety car get ahead before it peeled in (it was only 150m or so in front of him going into the corner).
      Car data confirms no braking.
      Vettel accelerated into the back of Hamilton because he made an assumption about what was going to happen (instead of watching what was actually happening) and because he was worried about Perez behind him.
      Then after his mistake he acted like the spoiled child he is and intentionally hit another car (after putting his nose ahead and technically overtaking under the safety car).

      Vettel should have been black flagged.

      Awesome race, only thing that would have made it better was Vettel behind Hamilton (or DQed).

      • June 26th 2017 @ 2:22pm
        Ian Fulford said | June 26th 2017 @ 2:22pm | ! Report

        Dan R should be on every F1 teams sign on. Once Riccardo gets in a competitive car he will dominate the F1 arena.

        When he was a green horn he trounced Vettel at red bull. Max V is a super talented novice, however Dan R is dominating him. Ricardo is the next world champion when he gets a faster ride. Great drive Dan even with faster cars outed your unscheduled pit stop and P17 track position proved how good you are.

        Go Dan more shoees please.

      • June 27th 2017 @ 9:12am
        Bamboo said | June 27th 2017 @ 9:12am | ! Report

        Not correct mate. The car data confirms he brakes, but more there is no evidence to link that with intentional brake testing of Seb.

        Lewis was going 69kph into the corner, 66kph while clipping the apex leaving the corner, then applied full brakes, being hit by Seb at 51kph.

        Seb is wrong on both fronts, but your “alternative facts” aren’t correct.

        • Roar Guru

          June 27th 2017 @ 6:30pm
          Lano said | June 27th 2017 @ 6:30pm | ! Report

          I agree with Red, that’s what I also believe to be the facts. No braking.

    • Roar Pro

      June 27th 2017 @ 1:42am
      anon said | June 27th 2017 @ 1:42am | ! Report

      Hamilton did hit the brakes. Race stewards in the past have shown a great reluctance to punish Hamilton for anything.

      Great race, a track that was conducive to incidents, and in a beautiful setting.

      The new F1 owners rubbished Baku in the offseason, trumpeted how they’ll bring races to boring and often shabby European venues like Hockenheim and Paul Ricard.

      They might want to rethink that arrogant Anglo-centric view of the world.

      Would be a great shame to lose a great venue like this.

      • Roar Guru

        June 27th 2017 @ 7:20am
        Red Kev said | June 27th 2017 @ 7:20am | ! Report

        Go and read some reports “Telemetry data proves Hamilton didn’t brake-test Vettel” “FIA’s analysis of Azerbaijan Grand Prix found no evidence in telemetry data of Hamilton either brake-testing or lifting off unexpectedly in his clash with Vettel” “Hamilton’s actions were consistent with how he had taken that corner under the other safety car laps”.
        Vettel screwed up and then had road rage – you can’t do that in a 3 million dollar car.

        • June 27th 2017 @ 9:17am
          Bamboo said | June 27th 2017 @ 9:17am | ! Report

          Theres a difference between braking and brake testing mate.

          You are correct however is saying what cleared Hamilton was his actions were consistent with previous safety car periods. But in previous safety car periods he had braked on the exit of that corner to back the pack up….the very part of the circuit you’re claiming he did not brake….

        • Roar Pro

          June 27th 2017 @ 11:55am
          anon said | June 27th 2017 @ 11:55am | ! Report

          Of course he braked. I posted an image of him having his foot on the brake. He slowed from 60 km/h to 40 km/h in a matter of metres.

          It’s proven that Hamilton braked. The stewards didn’t have the guts to call it “brake testing”.

          • Roar Guru

            June 27th 2017 @ 6:33pm
            Lano said | June 27th 2017 @ 6:33pm | ! Report

            your opinion does not alter the facts. Refer the Stewards’ report. He didn’t brake

            • Roar Pro

              June 27th 2017 @ 8:38pm
              anon said | June 27th 2017 @ 8:38pm | ! Report

              The stewards also found he didn’t gain an advantage when he cut the first corner in Mexico last year…

              Of course Hamilton braked. I posted evidence from the onboard screenshot for you of him braking. They just didn’t consider it to be brake testing.

              Hamilton was being a smart alec slowing down when he did, in the back of his head hoping someone would be caught out.

              Much like when he was deliberately slowing down Ricciardo in Bahrain, much like he was deliberately slowing down Rosberg in Abu Dhabi last year.

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