The Highs Lows of The Azerbaijan Grand Prix
At the end of an enthralling Azerbaijan Grand Prix the Formula 1 landscape had changed. Once again, another chapter was written in what is panning out to be a classic season. With the championship order changing across the field and points gaps extended while others were closed down, we take a look at those who achieved the highest of highs and others who suffered the lowest of lows across the streets of Baku
Written by Andrew Lwanga, Edited by Tanishka Vashee
Highest of Highs- Sergio Perez
Going into the sixth round of the season with a singular point separating Red Bull from the defending World Champions Mercedes, it was what some would call a Mexican standoff between the two teams. Rising to the occasion was the Mexican Sergio Perez.
Starting from fourth on the grid Checo made up places in the opening lap. He gained a further place as the Red Bull pit wall took advantage of a slow pit-stop suffered by Hamilton. Throughout the race Perez maintained a pace that made sure he kept the charging Silver Arrow of Hamilton at arm’s length.
After his teammate Max Verstappen suffered a tyre failure towards the closing stages of the race, Checo inherited the lead, nailed the standing restart and secured the win. Which will be the third win for the Milton Keynes based Bulls, extending their lead in the Constructors Championship from one point to twenty six. Sergio Perez also became the first person to score a win with two different Constructor’s in the Turbo-Hybrid Era.
Lowest of Lows- Lewis Hamilton
Following a poor showing in Monte Carlo at the Monaco Grand Prix Lewis Hamilton arrived in Baku four points behind in the championship. The seven time world champion managed to outqualify his championship rival but fell short of pole by two tenths. Hamilton was able to gain the lead in the race but lost two places in the pit-stops after being held in his pit-box to avoid an unsafe release. It looked like Verstappen would further extend his lead until a tyre failure, putting Hamilton in prime position to regain the championship lead.
At the restart however, Hamilton had left on a brake setting meant to ensure cooling of the brakes. This lapse in judgement meant that he overshot turn 1 going off into the escape road thus falling outside the points paying positions.
Consequently this meant that the defending champion was unable to take advantage of his rival’s misfortunes and the gap between the two remained as it was. While it was not the end of the world for the knighted racer, it was a race where the greatest of opportunities was presented and he failed to take advantage. This was also the first time Lewis Hamilton failed to score since Austria in 2018, a streak that lasted 54 races.
Highs- BUT HERE COMES SEBASTIAN VETTEL
The four time world champion had had a dismal end to his time at Ferrari. Finishing the season with about a third of the points of his teammate many believed that not only was the German past his prime but simply had nothing left.Vettel started the season in a similar stride to how he ended the previous one. However, in two races the German was able to catapult himself from the effective bottom of the points table well into the top ten.
Even though it wasn’t enough to help Aston Martin maintain fifth place over Alpha Tauri in the Constructors championship, it was enough to make sure they remain within striking distance whilst also pulling away from Alpine. Seb brought home Aston Martin’s first podium in Formula 1.
Lows- Valtteri Bottas
While the entire Mercedes outfit would quickly want to forget about the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Bottas may wish he was never there to begin with. After suffering poor luck in Monaco that saw him lose out on a podium place due to a botched pit-stop, Valtteri was unable to bounce back around the streets of Baku.
The Finn hadn’t had a singular ray of sunshine as qualifying was poor by his standards. Despite making it into Q3 Bottas qualified a lowly P10, some of which can be attributed to a lack of slipstream as he was the first to get onto the track in Q3.
The race was no better, unlike Vettel and fellow Finn Raikkonen who were able to make up places Bottas only drifted backwards to finish the race in 14th. This was also the first time since Austria 2018 that both Mercedes’ drivers failed to score.
Highs- Pierre Gasly
Two years on Gasly has now scored a race win and three podiums. Since the free practice sessions Gasly showed great pace, something that was further illustrated in qualifying as the Frenchman managed to qualify fourth on the grid. Which matched his highest qualifying position.
Gasly went on to secure a third place finish helping Scuderia Alpha Tauri to overtake Aston Martin in the Constructor’s championship. Gasly now sits at eighth in the standings, 3 points behind a certain 4 time world champion.
Honourable Mention- Scuderia Ferrari
With all the events of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix very little attention was paid to The Prancing Horses despite being the team that scored pole. Although this pole position did not materialize into a pole position or a podium with Leclerc finishing behind Gasly in fourth. It meant that Italian Stallions scored a tremendous amount of points as Charles finished ahead of Norris and Sainz finished ahead of Ricciardo.