Take me down to the Baku City (Circuit), where the Aston Martin is green, and the sight lines are pretty. The Azerbaijan Grand Prix has quickly become my favourite race on the calendar because it is a blank canvas for drama out on the track.
However, I’m sorry to report that this race didn’t live up to the hype. It was just okay.
Nevertheless, I have some takeaways!
1. Max Verstappen – Red Bull
2. Sergio Perez – Red Bull
3. George Russell – Mercedes
4. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes
5. Pierre Gasly – AlphaTauri
6. Sebastian Vettel – Aston Martin
7. Fernando Alonso – Alpine
8. Daniel Ricciardo – McLaren
9. Lando Norris – McLaren
10. Esteban Ocon – Alpine
11. Valtteri Bottas – Alfa Romeo
12. Alex Albon – Williams
13. Yuki Tsunoda – AlphaTauri
14. Mick Schumacher – Haas
15. Nicholas Latifi – Williams
16. Lance Stroll – Aston Martin (DNF)
17. Kevin Magnussen – Haas (DNF)
18. Zhou Guanyu – Alfa Romeo (DNF)
19. Charles Leclerc – Ferrari (DNF)
20. Carlos Sainz – Ferrari (DNF)
1. What’s up with Ricciardo?
For only the second time in eight races, Daniel Ricciardo finished in a points scoring position. Whereas his teammate, Lando Norris, has six finishes in the top ten.
Admittedly, I don’t know if it’s the car, or if it’s Ricciardo, or if it’s other factors. I do know that McLaren came out very slow in the season opener in Bahrain. Norris seems to have recovered, but Ricciardo has not.
As a team, McLaren is exactly where you’d expect them to be. They are fourth in the constructor’s championship, but a long way back from the top three. I’m not saying I thought they’d be challenging for race wins on a consistent basis, but I thought they would’ve closed the gap a bit more. They haven’t.
So, is it the car? Is it Ricciardo? I don’t know. McLaren seems to be having a lot less fun these days than they have in the past.
Ricciardo is adamant that he has another year left on his contract, while there have been rumblings that there are ways for McLaren to get out of the contract early.
We’ll see how things turn out.
2. Where Art Thou Haas?
Remember after the first race, we thought Haas was going to be good this year? Well, as a team, they have combined for three top ten finishes in eight races. All of them came within the first four races.
Maybe it’s just a case of everyone else improving their car with upgrades?
But hey, they already have more constructor’s points this season than in the last two combined. In the world of Formula 1, where it takes years for teams to rise through the ranks, this is good progress.
At the same time, I’m like that girl in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. “I want it now!”
I want Haas to be good now.
From Mick Schumacher, to Netflix star, Guenther Steiner, there is a lot to like about Haas. I just hope they eventually get to a place where they are a consistent contender for points. Once they get there, then the fun will truly begin with this team.
3. Guy with the Wine
One of the features of the Baku City Circuit is how close the fans can get to the action, if they live in the apartment buildings around the track.
A couple of fans were watching from their balcony, holding glasses of wine. All they would’ve had to do was tip their glasses over and there would be wine on the track. I’d like to think fans wouldn’t do that, especially with cameras everywhere.
However, all it takes is one person to ruin it for everyone. If someone feels like being a clown and wants to throw something on the track, or at one of the cars whizzing by, nothing is physically there to stop them.
There are sections of the Monaco track where fans could also easily throw things on the track.
I wonder if they have to sign a waiver before the race.
Maybe I’m overthinking this and not putting enough faith in humanity, but you never know.
4. Black and Orange Flag
Before the season started, I made a list of random predictions. One of which was that a driver would receive a black flag – a disqualification from a race. It doesn’t really happen in real life – the last one coming in 2007 at the Canadian Grand Prix – as much as it does in video games, which is why I made the prediction.
In this race, there was a black and orange flag for Yuki Tsunoda on Lap 38. A black and orange flag means a car is damaged and is being forced back to the pits for repairs.
Tsunoda’s rear wing split in half, so what did the team do to fix it? Duct tape. Around and around they went, like your father does with broken up boxes in the basement.
And back onto the track he went.
The next race is the Canadian Grand Prix on June 19. Yes, it already happened, but let’s pretend like it didn’t. I’m a bit behind.