Grand Prix of Azerbaijan – Race


An eventful Qualifying session yesterday, more exciting than the entire Monaco GP, resulting in an interesting grid: LEC, HAM, VER, GAS, SAI, PER, TSU, ALO, NOR*, BOT, VET, OCO, RIC, RAI, RUS, LAT, SCH, MAZ, STR, GIO

*NOR was given a 3-place penalty “for red flag offence in qualifying” [FIA] “The Stewards assume that if a red flag is not respected during qualifying, a drop of 5 grid positions is appropriate. However, if you consider that the driver only had a very short time to react due to his position on the track, a drop of 3 grid positions is sufficient as an exception.”

VER has been allowed to change the tyres he’ll start the race on – the top 10 have to start the race on the set they used to set their best Q2 time, but VER picked up some paint when he was called to the weighbridge so he’s been allowed to switch to a set with equal wear.

Lots of tweets of condolences and memories of Mansour Ojjeh, a shareholder of McLaren since 1984, who died this morning; sounds like he had a big influence on a lot of people.

Pit lane is open; cars can head out to the grid
RUS has a big twitch heading into Turn 15; “What happened there? I almost lost the car!” but he kept it out of the wall
RIC runs wide in Turn 16

Air temperature 24°C; track 39°C – the track was closer to 50°C in Quali

LEC leads everyone away on the formation lap
SCH was a bit slow getting away but they’re all moving now
Top 10 all on soft compound tyres; LAT, RAI and RUS on mediums, STR on hards but everyone else on softs
The grid forms up: LEC, HAM, VER, GAS, SAI, PER, TSU, ALO, NOR, BOT, VET, OCO, RIC, RAI, RUS, LAT, SCH, MAZ, STR, GIO
Long wait for the back of the grid to get into position

01/51: Everyone cleanly through the first couple of turns
Did I see some bodywork fly off just before T1?
FIA app is still broken – just a blank page and an advert to pay for their broken app 🙁

02: LEC, HAM, VER, PER, GAS, SAI, ALO, TSU, VET, BOT, OCO, RIC, NOR
RUS pits
Replay shows STR and SCH touch wheels into T1 on lap 1
NOR reclaims P12 from teammate RIC

03: GAS fastest lap 1:49.031
HAM gets a tow from LEC and slips past to steal P1
VER cuts T1 – looks like some debris on the track

04: VER f/lap 1:48.040
OCO pits; the Alpine sounds rough; he’s pushed into the garage
Brief yellow flag – was that for GIO?

05/51: HAM, LEC, VER, PER, GAS, SAI, ALO, TSU, VET, BOT, NOR, RIC, STR, RAI, LAT, SCH, MAZ, GIO, RUS; out: OCO
HAM f/lap 1:47.462
Radio for NOR asking about passing BOT; NOR replies “he’s making a lot of mistakes”

06: VER f/lap 1:47.107
VER closing on LEC

07: VER takes P2 from LEC
TSU passes ALO for P7

08: PER takes P3 from LEC
PER f/lap 1:47.046
ALO and NOR pit; hard tyres for both; rejoin P16 and P17 respectively

09: Radio from LEC, “What are we doing?”; “Plan A”
ALO and NOR both pass MAZ
Radio for TSU, “We’ve got to push harder”

10/51: LEC dives into the pit lane; hard tyres go on; rejoins P10
TSU pits too, followed by LAT and MAZ
VER closing on HAM

11: PER f/lap 1:46.881
NOR takes P13 from ALO
SAI pits; rejoins P11
Yellow flag in Sector 2; SAI in the escape road at 8; he’s reversing, recovers

12: HAM pits, as does GAS, BOT, RIC
VER fastest in sector 1 and 2; dives into the pits

13: PER f/lap 1:46.800
VER rejoins P3, clearly ahead of HAM

14: PER pits from P1; bit of a slow stop; rejoins P3, just ahead of HAM
HAM f/lap 1:46.600
HAM pushing hard while PER is trying to warm his new tyres
VET currently P1 is the only one not on hard tyres (STR started on hard; everyone else has pitted)

15/51: VET, VER, PER, HAM, STR, GAS, LEC, TSU, NOR, BOT, ALO, RIC, GIO, SAI, RAI, RUS, LAT, SCH, MAZ; out: OCO
VER f/lap 1:46.192
PER defends into Turn 1

16: PER f/lap 1:45.868
RIC gets the tow from ALO and dives inside to take P11

17: HAM f/lap 1:45.675
SAI P14 tucked up behind GIO

19: VET finally pits; hands P1 to VER; rejoins P7
So now STR is the only one who has to make a pit stop

20/51: VER, PER, HAM, STR, GAS, LEC, VET, TSU, NOR, BOT, RIC, ALO, GIO, SAI, RAI, RUS, LAT, SCH, MAZ
HAM now close enough to get DRS to attack PER
Radio from PER, “HAM is flying on the straights”
BOT closing on NOR

21: VER putting in fastest sector 1 and s2

23: SAI finally finds a way round GIO to take P13

24: PER f/lap 1:45.616
Yellow flag – BOT ran a little wide at T16

25/51: VER, PER, HAM, STR, GAS, LEC, VET, TSU, NOR, BOT, RIC, ALO, SAI, GIO, RAI, RUS, LAT, SCH, MAZ; out: OCO
VER f/lap 1:45.456
MAZ uses the escape road at T4; recovers ok

Half distance

26: VER laps MAZ; sets f/lap 1:45.415
SAI closing on countryman ALO

27: VER f/lap 1:45.352
PER and HAM lap MAZ
SAI inside ALO into Turn 1; SAI takes P12

28: VER has 5.7sec lead over teammate PER
HAM just over 2sec behind PER

30/51: VER, PER, HAM, STR, GAS, LEC, VET, TSU, NOR, BOT, RIC, SAI, ALO, GIO, RAI, RUS, LAT, SCH, MAZ; out: OCO

31: STR in the wall – big hit
Looks like something failed at the rear as he was coming onto the main straight
Yellow flags – STR’s Aston Martin is stranded slightly off the racing line but there’s a lot of debris
Safety Car deployed
Pit lane is closed

32[SC]: Medical car picks up STR and brings him back to the pits

33[SC]: Pit lane still closed
Debris is cleared up but they still need to remove the car

34[SC]: Looks like there’s a crane picking up the car
Radio from HAM, “I can’t attack these guys on these tyres”

35[SC]: Pit lane is open
ALO, GIO, RUS, SCH all pit
SCH has stopped at the end of the pit lane; he’s being pushed back into his box
SC in at the end of this lap
Replay shows front left wasn’t secure, so SCH will probably get a penalty for unsafe release
SC heads into the pit lane

36: VER taking it slowly, weaving
VER pulls away
HAM closes but can’t pass PER
VET sneaks past LEC
LEC locks up, nearly rear-ends VET
BOT falls down to P13

37: VER, PER, HAM, GAS, VET, LEC, TSU, NOR, SAI, RIC, ALO, RAI, BOT, GIO, LAT, RUS, SCH, MAZ; out: STR, OCO
VET takes P4 from GAS

38: DRS enabled
VER already has 2.5sec lead over PER
HAM tucked up behind PER

39: HAM f/lap 1:45.215
GIO passes BOT for P13

40/51: VER, PER, HAM, GAS, VET, LEC, TSU, NOR, SAI, RIC, ALO, RAI, GIO, BOT, LAT, RUS, SCH, MAZ; out: STR, OCO
VER f/lap 1:45.125
ALO closing on RIC for P10

41: VER f/lap 1:44.805

42: VET closing a bit on HAM
Radio from NOR complaining “Got a lot of vibration”; “That’s coming from the front right”
NOR is within DRS range of TSU

44: HAM f/lap 1:44.769
Somehow MAZ is 61sec behind SCH – I didn’t think he’s had an off since the SC restart
HAM pushing hard but he’s still over 1sec behind PER

45/51: VER, PER, HAM, VET, GAS, LEC, TSU, NOR, SAI, RIC, ALO, RAI, GIO, BOT, RUS, LAT, SCH, MAZ; out: STR, OCO
VER f/lap 1:44.481
SCH pits; rejoins still P17

46: MAZ pits too
VER loses the rear on the main straight, just beyond where STR had his accident

47[SC]: VER gives the rear left wheel a good kick and then runs across the track

48[SC]: SC leads everyone through the pit lane because of the debris on the main straight
BOT pits; takes on softs; if he sets fastest lap he’ll stop someone in the top 10 getting the extra point
Red flag – race suspended
LAT under investigation for not using the pit lane behind the SC

Radio from HAM, “Is it tyre wear or a failure?”
Discussion on the Red Bull pit wall is also about the same question

Replay of radio from Red Bull to the race director on lap 47[SC], telling him they had no warning of VER’s tyre issue, and recommending he red flag the race to let everyone change tyres for safety

If the race is not restarted, then the countback from the red flag means PER wins, not VER

Replay of radio for LAT, “Stay out, stay out, stay out, stay out, through the pit lane but don’t box” – wow, totally misleading instruction; LAT’s bound to get a penalty for that call

Mercedes are replacing HAM’s front wing because it’s clearly damage

Radio from McLaren to Michael Masi (race director) complaining TSU didn’t slow down enough; Masi said the whole field failed to slow enough, so no penalty for TSU

Race will restart at 10mins past the hour
Not clear yet whether that will be behind the SC, a rolling start behind PER, or a standing start on the grid

Order: PER, HAM, VET, GAS, LEC, TSU, NOR, SAI, RIC, ALO, RAI, GIO, LAT*, BOT, RUS, SCH, MAZ; out: VER, STR, OCO
*LAT under investigation for not following the SC through the pit lane

Race control: It will be a standing start on the grid
LAT will start in P15, which is where he was before the SC incident
LAT’s also been given a 10-sec stop-go penalty

Radio from HAM, “It’s a marathon not a sprint”
I think that means he’s going to play it safe and take the P2 points rather than risk going for P1

Everyone had the chance to change tyres, but VET is the only one with new soft tyres

PER leads the remaining 17-car field out of the pit lane
They’re behind the SC, I guess as a reminder that this is just to get them to the grid, not to start racing too soon
SC pulls into the pit lane
Grid forms up: PER, HAM, VET, GAS, LEC, TSU, NOR, SAI, RIC, ALO, RAI, GIO, BOT, RUS, LAT*, SCH, MAZ
RUS heading into the pit lane!?

50/51: HAM takes P1 well before Turn 1 … but locks up and heads down the escape road; rejoins dead last
TSU looks at a pass on ALO

51 = final lap: LEC takes P3 from GAS
GAS reclaims P3

PER takes the chequered flag, and then is told to stop ASAP
Provisional result: PER, VET, GAS, LEC, NOR, ALO, TSU, SAI, RIC, RAI; GIO, BOT, LAT**, SCH, MAZ, HAM
DNF: RUS, VER*, STR, OCO
*VER fastest lap, but no point because he didn’t finish in the top 10
**LAT has 10sec penalty to be applied

VER and HAM fail to score points, so VER is still 4 points ahead in the Drivers’ Championship

Radio from HAM debriefing on that Turn 1 incident – sounds like a mistake with a brake setting that led to him locking up

[2021 calendar] [2021 line-up] [Points standings]