Race Report: European GP- Rosberg back on top in Baku

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The weekend looked like it could be Lewis Hamilton’s if you were watching Friday’s practice session but it all went pear-shaped by Saturday and the weekend came to his teammate Nico Rosberg who clinically drove to pole position and converted that to a comprehensive win on Sunday in the European Grand Prix from Baku Azerbaijan.

Nico Rosberg has extended his championship lead to 24 points with a win on Sunday and was joined on the podium by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in second and Sergio Perez in third who equaled fellow Mexican Pedro Rodriguez for podium finishes.

Overall the hand-wringing over the safety of the street circuit that saw average lap speeds of 130mph in the streets of Baku was thankfully not an issue and the slow and high speed circuit was a real challenge and the drivers seemed to have fun with it even if it was a bit of a processional race.

WinWin

A win for Nico Rosberg who was watching his championship lead drain away with a resurgent Lewis Hamilton. Nico’s car had the same issue that Lewis Hamilton’s had with an engine setting but per team boss Niki Lauda, Nico recognized it quickly and corrected the situation. Nico needed to reclaim his progress and increase his points lead and that’s what he did if only due to Lewis’s difficulties from Saturday onward.

A big win for Force India’s Sergio Perez who had a terrific race to a podium finish while his teammate, Nico Hulkenberg, languished in 9th. Perez put a pass on Kimi Raikkonen on the final lap to take the podium. To be fair to Hulkenberg, he had a one-stop strategy and his tires were seriously worn.

Sauber’s Felipe Nasr had a sort of win with a 12th place finish reversing his role as being behind his teammate Marcus Ericsson and giving the team a decent result.

It may not be quite a win but in McLaren’s season, it’s close enough. Jenson Button finished 11th while his teammate, Fernando Alonso retired. Button said he enjoyed the race and gave everything to get from 19th to 11th. To beat Williams is a big ask for the team and that’s where they are in pace. They took a lot of downforce off the car and the Prime tire worked well for them. For Alonso, he suffered a gearbox issue and had to stop the car so as not to damage the power unit.

FailFail

Lewis Hamilton had an engine setting issue and said he had no idea what setting needed to be changed and according to Hamilton, it fixed itself. Sky Sports were bemoaning the radio ban and Lewis said it’s a real shame he couldn’t just race and there were 100 possible positions to change. They are the same for every driver including Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen who had an issue and the team couldn’t tell him what to do. According to Toto Wolff they had a problem on both cars and Lewis’s came first, Nico’s a little later. It caused confusion and took a 12 laps for Lewis to reset. Toto says that you either reduce the complexity of the spec or look at the radio rules.

While Red Bull typically isn’t quite as competitive on high-speed circuits, they had a terrific qualifying session from Daniel Ricciardo and he needed it if he was going to make it a good race. At first blush, the early pit stop strategy by the team may not have been the best call as Ricciardo sunk to 7th having started second and teammate Max Verstappen finished 8th. Ricciardo said they simply had rear tire issues and his wheels were spinning in fourth gear. They weren’t expecting to suffer from tire issues so they were forced to a 2-stop strategy. They had better pace on the mediums but clearly the soft and super soft were the better compounds, the team just couldn’t make them work.

Finishing 4th is ok but Kimi Raikkonen’s crossing on the pit lane entry line garnered a 5-second penalty and then had back marker issues and eventually was passed by Sergio Perez for the final podium finish denying Ferrari a 2/3 finish. Kimi had a different strategy than his teammate Sebastian Vettel but losing a podium wasn’t good.

Toro Rosso had a dual DNF with suspension issues and both Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat both ended the race early. A bad day in the office for the team.

Williams F1 suffered a 6th and 10th place finish for Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa respectively. The car was predicted to be quicker than it was and had no speed in the corners with a lack of grip. Rob Smedley said it was steady race and the race didn’t really deliver the excitement people were expecting. The team is in need of more car pace and the cars were struggling with graining.

Not a great day for Haas F1’s Esteban Gutierrez who had a ragged start with a damaged front wing and ended up 17th four spaces behind his teammate Romain Grosjean who also struggled

WTHWTH

A WTH for the un-ending wave of Sky Sports dog-whistling the draconian nature of the radio ban which has been in place since Australia but after Lewis Hamilton’s issue for 12 laps, the narrative was all about the radio ban and how silly it is. It’s the same for everyone but Fernando Alonso says it’s like giving the drivers a space ship and then denying them the ability to radio ground control.

It wasn’t long ago, Spain to be exact, that the wave of commentary via fans was about how Nico Rosberg was a dope for having his car in the wrong setting and what a daft lad he was. Now, Lewis has an engine setting issue (so did Nico but he fixed it quickly) and the world is now questioning the viability of the radio ban. No one was calling for a lift of the radio ban on Nico’s behalf in Spain and even here, Nico managed to remedy it quickly but Lewis wasn’t so we are now all in a rage over the radio ban. (Editorial Update- According to Will Buxton’s tweet, he says that Nico caused his issue and fixed it quickly but Lewis’s situation happened on its own and he didn’t cause it…no reason to doubt Will on this but it does seem odd)

On one hand, you’d like to just see them race and lift the ban so the drivers can get on with it but on the other hand, fans were not happy with the prolific team radio coaching the drivers at every turn. It wasn’t an issue until today when Lewis couldn’t seem to get his engine setting corrected. Ultimately, it’s the same for everyone and whether or not Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen lost 3rd due to his inability to get assistance from the team, I would argue his 5-second penalty was going to ruin his chances regardless.

A WTH for the 5-second penalty to Kimi for crossing the pit entry white line when both Ricciardo and Nasr both crossed the same line and weren’t handed penalties. Again with the consistency of the calls. It didn’t factor in the finish as Kimi was passed by Perez but it certainly could have.

European Grand Prix Results:

Pos Driver Car Gap
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1h32m52.366s
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 16.696s
3 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 25.241s
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 33.102s
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 56.335s
6 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 1m00.886s
7 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m09.229s
8 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m10.696s
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1m17.708s
10 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m25.375s
11 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 1m44.817s
12 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 1 Lap
13 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1 Lap
14 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1 Lap
15 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1 Lap
16 Esteban Gutierrez Haas/Ferrari 1 Lap
17 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1 Lap
18 Rio Haryanto Manor/Mercedes 2 Laps
Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda Retirement
Pascal Wehrlein Manor/Mercedes Brakes
Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Ferrari Retirement
Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Ferrari Retirement

Driver’s Championship Points:

Pos Driver Points
1 Nico Rosberg 141
2 Lewis Hamilton 117
3 Sebastian Vettel 96
4 Kimi Raikkonen 81
5 Daniel Ricciardo 78
6 Max Verstappen 54
7 Valtteri Bottas 52
8 Sergio Perez 39
9 Felipe Massa 38
10 Daniil Kvyat 22
11 Romain Grosjean 22
12 Nico Hulkenberg 20
13 Fernando Alonso 18
14 Carlos Sainz 18
15 Kevin Magnussen 6
16 Jenson Button 5
17 Stoffel Vandoorne 1
18 Esteban Gutierrez 0
19 Jolyon Palmer 0
20 Marcus Ericsson 0
21 Felipe Nasr 0
22 Pascal Wehrlein 0
23 Rio Haryanto 0

Constructors’ Championship Points:

Pos Constructor Points
1 Mercedes 258
2 Ferrari 177
3 Red Bull/Renault 140
4 Williams/Mercedes 90
5 Force India/Mercedes 59
6 Toro Rosso/Ferrari 32
7 McLaren/Honda 24
8 Haas/Ferrari 22
9 Renault 6
10 Sauber/Ferrari 0
11 Manor/Mercedes 0
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Overall Race
An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.

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Peter Riva
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Peter Riva

Can someone confirm Kim’s penalty was on pit entry and not pit exit? If it was for pit entry then 3+ cars should be penalized.
Otherwise, I found the race interesting, not least the anticipation for turns 8 and 15! Bravo to the drivers. Where Maldonado when you plan on a safety car?
I listened to BBC Radio 5 for commentary as well as the NBC lot. Lord, someone please can Diffy, inane comments all through the race not to mention the travelogue DURING racing..

Negative Camber
Guest

The video replay showed it on pit entry.

MIE
Editor

Raikkonen’s penalty was for the pit entry. The white line was extended by some 20 metres on Friday evening, after drivers complained that they couldn’t easily see it. Document 41 from the FI stewards gave the result of the incident: Fact Car 7 crossed the white line at the Pit Entry with all four wheels and did not enter the Pit Lane. Offence Breach of Appendix L, Chapter IV, Article 4 of the FIA International Sporting Code. Decision 5 Second Time Penalty (2 penalty points awarded, 5 points total for the 12 month period). Reason The driver crossed the white… Read more »

MIE
Editor

On C4 it was noticeable how the commentary was all about how the season still had a long way to go, and Hamilton was still in the fight, whereas for the last race (and the pre-race coverage in Baku) you could be forgiven for thinking that Hamilton had an unassailable lead in the title race. This bias is definitely beginning to grate.

longshot
Guest
longshot

On Sky the bias is unbearable, its verging on obsession. Its as if they assume all anyone wants to know about is Lewis & the other drivers are all bit-players.

longshot
Guest
longshot

The timing of the early RBR pitstops was not good, but they had absolutely no choice. By the 3rd lap, both cars were going backwards at an alarming rate due to rapid rear tyre wear. There’s definitely an issue there that their engineers will need to sort out.

They can count themselves lucky they brought one set of mediums for each car. If they’d gone with Soft/Supersoft only, it could have been a much worse finish.

And kudos to Perez, a superb weekend for him & he really showed Ferrari why he’d be a good replacement for Kimi.

Member

3 stars? You’re being generous. I have been saying for years it is long overdue to simplify these cars. They’re racers, drivers, not systems management specialists. This time, I didn’t watch SkySports but the F1onNBC website livestream that lacked most commentary.

longshot
Guest
longshot

You didn’t miss anything, the Sky commentary was absolutely terrible this race :

Steven
Guest
Steven

The radio ban gives an advantage to the studious F1 driver. Alonso and Hulkenburg were both very smug about how they did ZERO laps on the simulator before coming to the circuit, combine that with Hamilton’s comparison of a PlayStation and an F1 simulator and you have three under performing drivers this weekend. While I can’t compare a PlayStation to a F1 Simulator, I am pretty sure the former does NOT come with a F1 steering wheel and complete PU map. No doubt these kinds of problem scenarios with PU settings can be drawn up on the simulator and the… Read more »

Guy Fawkes
Guest
Guy Fawkes

I can see the argument against the somewhat Draconian radio ban, and I can see the point that the drivers should be drivers and not Systems Analysts, but the cars are what they are. The simulations will train the drivers to make the necessary changes on the fly, it’s up to the drivers to have their highly paid posteriors in the simulator to get that training! Personally, I’m enjoying the coverage much better without constantly hearing the engineers speaking code to the drivers…then Diffey and Matchett trying to guess what they meant! Kudos to all the drivers for having ZERO… Read more »

Member
Dr T

Andreas
Guest
Andreas

What could have been an interesting race got completely neutered by the DRS… That super long high-speed run through the final kinks and the long straight could have been an opportunity to show off some all-out daredevil slipstreaming, but instead just became a DRS passing lane… For instance, on lap 42 Grosjean passed Alonso using DRS down the start/finish straight, Alonso fought back through turn 2 to retake the position, only to get shafted down the next straight because Grosjean had DRS once again (from the single detection point). That sort of thing just made me cringe. Kimi’s time penalty… Read more »

Member

This question is for all the videographers out there. I happened to watch the Sky Sports broadcast this time and right around lights out the video seemed to switch to 25p, giving it what’s called the “film look.” Did anyone else notice this? Did NBC do this too? Other Sky F1 videos I’ve seen still looked like live video (50i). I thought the effect was neat, although I associate the “video look” with live events and the “film look” for narratives and documentaries, like Truth in 24.

Guy Fawkes
Guest
Guy Fawkes

I didn’t notice it on NBC, but then again it was EARLY and my coffee was still brewing. I think it would have jumped out, though. Interesting.

Tiago Ribeiro
Guest
Tiago Ribeiro

I wish I had a Baku street balcony! Like speedy and aggressive sharks closing all around, it will be very nice to feel the tension of being in the prey spot for this asphalt predators. I joined this conversation for sharing a kind of conspiracy thought that occurred to me when I saw the closing laps of this GP. Kimi was unable to maintain the 5 seconds distance to Perez in the few laps remaining, due to a bad strategy, from my point of view, from Ferrari, who pit him to early, living him with bad tires in the closing… Read more »

Member
Mike

I say all us F1B fans should get tickets and lock-up Baku next year since the rooms are still super cheap! Paul can scream at Marcus Ericsson whilst drinking Heinekens from the balcony..it will be great.

Paul Riseborough
Guest
Paul Riseborough

With 1300 employees Mercedes F1 has the resources to write software that will make the drivers interface simpler and/or improve the drivers training.