Grand Prix of Europe – Race

The new circuit in Baku is expected to give us a safety car (or maybe more than one) so it looks like 1-pit stop strategy for most teams.

Qualifying had a few cars taking to the escape roads; HAM hitting the wall and bringing out the red flag resulted in an unusual top 10.
Provisional grid: ROS, PER*, RIC, VET, RAI, MAS, KVY, BOT, VES, HAM, GRO, HUL, SAI*, ALO, GUT, NAS, HAR, WEH, BUT, ERI, MAG*, PAL
*PER, SAI & MAG will drop 5 grid spots because of the gearbox changes; MAG will start from the pit lane

It’s warm – air temperature 33°C; track 45°C; dry and sunny
National anthem of Azerbaijan marks the first F1 Grand Prix here

Grid: ROS, RIC, VET, RAI, MAS, KVY, PER, BOT, VES, HAM, GRO, HUL, ALO, GUT, NAS, HAR, WEH, SAI, BUT, ERI, PAL, MAG
The top 10 are all starting on supersofts; looks like the rest of the field are on supersofts except ERI, HUL and WEH on softs

ROS leads almost everyone round on the formation lap; MAG sits in his garage
ROS slows everyone on the main straight, waiting for the tail-enders to catch up
MAG leaves the garage and heads to the pit exit

01/51: Clean start at the front; ROS holds P1 into Turn 1
GUT has lost his front wing

02: ROS, RIC, VET, RAI, PER, MAS, VES, KVY, BOT, HAM, GRO, ALO, NAS, HUL, BUT, WEH, GUT, SAI, PAL, ERI, MAG … HAR pits
Damage on HAR’s car

03: ROS fastest lap 1:50.007
KVY defends from BOT
DRS enabled
BOT takes P8 from KVY

Replay of the start shows GUT trying to go down the inside inside Turn 1; squeezed and breaks his front wing

04: HAM takes P9 from KVY .. then GRO inside KVY for P10
BOT looks inside VES; VES runs wide and BOT takes P7

05/51: HAM past VES for P8
ROS, RIC, VET, RAI, PER, MAS, BOT, HAM, VES, GRO
RIC struggling with his tyres

06: VET getting the tow from RIC on the main straight; takes P2
VES pits; takes on softs
ALO and KVY pit too

07: ROS has an 8.7sec lead over VET
RIC pits; soft tyres; rejoins P13
KVY has retired his Toro Rosso
Radio from RAI complaining about the plastic bags blowing around

08: MAS pits; yet another quick Williams stop
Radio for VET – “box”; VET asks “are you sure? Pace is good”; told it’s to avoid undercut by RIC

09: RAI pits; softs

10/51: ROS, VET, PER, BOT, HAM, HUL, GRO, WEH, RIC, ERI, RAI, MAS, PAL, VES, ALO, SAI, BUT, NAS, MAG, HAR, GUT; retirement: KVY
VET stays out – have Ferrari changed their mind?

11: ROS f/lap 1:49.930
HAM finally finds a way past BOT for P4
RAI past WEH for P9

12: ROS f/lap 1:49.907; his lead now about 14secs over VET
GRO pits
MAS drags past WEH for P9
RAI under investigation for crossing the line at pit entry

13: RAI f/lap 1:49.735
RIC gets a tow from HUL and passes him for P6

14: RAI gets a 5-second penalty for crossing pit entry line
ROS f/lap 1:49.689

15/51: ROS, VET, PER, HAM, BOT, RIC, HUL, RAI, MAS, WEH, VES, ERI, SAI, ALO, BUT, NAS, GRO, MAG, PAL, HAR, GUT
ROS f/lap 1:49.389
RAI f/lap 1:49.093
Radio from HAM – struggling with brakes; vibrations

16: HAM pits; softs; not a quick stop; rejoins P9
RAI around the outside of HUL

17: PER pits from P3; an average stop

18: ROS has 18.3sec lead over VET
HAM f/lap 1:48.187

19: RAI harrying RIC for P4
RAI uses the tow to take P4
NAS taps the wall with his rear right; sparks but he seems able to continue

20/51: ROS, VET, BOT, RAI, RIC, HUL, MAS, PER, HAM, VES
BOT pits; rejoins P9
PER takes P6 from MAS
HAM past MAS for P7

21: VET pits from P2; softs; rejoins P3
HUL and VES pit
VES takes medium compounds; slow rear left change

22: ROS pits; softs; rejoins easily still P1
PER passes RIC, and HAM follows him past the Red Bull, bumping RIC down to P6
Radio for WEH warning him not to cut Turn 8

23: PER f/lap 1:47.980
RIC pits; mediums; rejoins P13

24: ROS f/lap 1:47.954

25/51: ROS, RAI, VET, PER, HAM, MAS, BOT, SAI, ALO, HUL, BUT, RIC, NAS, GRO, WEH, MAG, VES, PAL, GUT, ERI, HAR; retirement: KVY

Half distance; no safety car so far, despite predictions
Track temp has dropped to 41°C

26: BUT pits; 2nd stop; more softs

27: Radio from HAM asking for a solution to a problem; tells them to pick up their pace!
RIC takes P9 from SAI
ALO past GUT for P15

28: VET closing on RAI; within DRS range now
VET easily past RAI – looks like team orders

29: MAS pits
Radio for RAI thanking him; RAI says “but now you tell him to push – I don’t want him in front of me”

30/51: ROS, VET, RAI*, PER, HAM, BOT, HUL, RIC, MAS, VES, MAG, WEH, ALO, PAL, BUT, SAI, NAS, GUT, GRO, ERI, HAR
*RAI still hasn’t pitted since he got the 5-sec penalty
VET 1:47.582
BUT takes P13 from PAL

31: Radio from HAM – “can I reset this thing?”

33: ROS f/lap 1:47.421
SAI pulls off & retires

34: Radio from HAM – “this is ridiculous, I don’t want to look at my dash every five seconds”; very frustrated
HAM says he’s going to try more changes; told it’s not advised but FIA’s radio restrictions means they can’t tell him anything more
PER just 3sec behind RAI, but RAI’s penalty means PER is effectively P3

35/51: ROS, VET, RAI, PER, HAM, BOT, HUL, RIC, MAS, VES, MAG, ALO, BUT, NAS, GRO, PAL, GUT, ERI, WEH, HAR; retirements: SAI, KVY
ROS f/lap 1:47.120
More radio from HAM asking for help; told they can’t advise him

37: BUT closing on ALO for P12

38: BUT lines up ALO, uses the drag to pass; ALO tries to fight back but his teammate keeps P12

39: Radio from RAI asking where the blue flags are; told they’re looking into it with Charlie Whiting, the race director
NAS takes P13 from ALO with the aid of DRS

40/51: ROS, VET, RAI, PER, HAM, BOT, HUL, RIC, MAS, VES, MAG, BUT, NAS, ALO, GRO, PAL, GUT, ERI, WEH, HAR; retirements: SAI, KVY

41: Radio from WEH – “I have no brakes”; pulls off and parks behind the wall

42: GRO and ALO battle over P14; GRO comes out ahead

43: HAM f/lap 1:46.822 – has his problem finally cleared?
BUT closing on MAG
Radio for ALO telling him to box and retire – he’s unable to downshift in some corners

44: BUT takes P11 from MAG

45/51: ROS, VET, RAI, PER, HAM, BOT, HUL, RIC, MAS, VES, BUT, MAG, NAS, GRO, PAL, GUT, ERI, HAR; retirements: ALO, WEH, SAI, KVY

46: VES bolts past MAS to steal P9
Radio from RAI – I missed his question but engineer says “I can’t tell you”; “Surely you can say yes or no!”; “I can’t tell you”
Surely someone needs to rethink the radio restrictions 🙁

47: RIC closing on HUL but not close enough to attack yet

48: ROS 17.8sec ahead of VET
RIC finally gets close enough to get a tow down the straight; takes P7 from HUL

49: ROS f/lap 1:46.485

50/51: ROS, VET, RAI, PER, HAM, BOT, RIC, HUL, VES, MAS, BUT, NAS, GRO, MAG, PAL, GUT, ERI, HAR
PER closing on RAI but remember RAI has 5sec penalty to be added
VES drafts past HUL for P8

51 = final lap: PER dives inside RAI to take P3
ROS takes the chequered flag

Provisional result: ROS, VET, PER, RAI*, HAM, BOT, RIC, VES, HUL, MAS; BUT, NAS, GRO, MAG, PAL, GUT, ERI, HAR
DNF: ALO, WEH, SAI, KVY
*Adding RAI’s 5-second penalty, he’s still P4

Niki Lauda said ROS & HAM had the same issue but ROS resolved it faster
Toto Wolff said ROS had just made a switch change when he encountered the problem, so he could fix it easier