Photo Courtesy of FormulaOne.com
Formula One is officially eight races into the 2022 season. Our staff has amassed a loyal following and together they’ll be bringing you their takeaways following each race.
This past weekend, Formula One hit the streets of Baku.
Charles Leclerc started the race in pole position, making it his sixth one of the season. But his good luck quickly crumbled and the Red Bulls and Mercedes took advantage of that, shaking up the team standings.
Five DNFs, two Red Bulls on the podium, and plenty of teammate drama came out of an overall uneventful race. Here are our team’s takeaways from the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Immediate reaction: Boring!
Aside from Ferrari’s powertrain issues and Lewis working his way to fourth, the race didn’t produce much action. Sadly, this is the product of only having two teams competitive at the very top of the sport.
Driver of the race: Max Verstappen (yeah, yeah, I know)
Verstappen was the class of the field today, especially after the Ferraris retired early. Even his teammate didn’t have anything for him and had to let him go. I also want to give an honorable mention shoutout to Ricciardo for beating baby Lando for only the second time this season (outside of DNF).
Moment of the race: Leclerc Retires On Lap 20
At the beginning of the race it looked like we were going to have another fun showdown between Red Bull and Ferrari, but with Sainz and Leclerc retiring on laps 9 and 20 respectively, it was nothing but smooth sailing for Red Bull and Verstappen specifically.
Thoughts moving forward: Ferrari is in trouble!
While we’ve seen Scuderia Ferrari competing, pace-wise, with Red Bull in both qualifying and the actual GPs, they have also managed to shoot themselves in the foot over and over. If they continue to combine odd unorganized pit calls with mechanical issues, they’re going to squander what could have been a great season for them. There’s plenty of season left for things to change, but Leclerc is now sitting third in the points and looking at a 34-point deficit to Max.
Immediate reaction: Bad day to be a Carlos Sainz fan, but overall just another day at the office, honestly! There was chaos, but it felt more isolated than the usual chaos other races have been giving us. I am more invested in the team drama that came out of this race than I was in the overall podium results. I will say I am happy to see Red Bull with such a solid lead.
Driver of the race: Sir Lewis Hamilton. The guy started P7 and raced his way into the top 5 after a physically challenging race. In a post-race interview, Hamilton described clenching his teeth to race through the pain he was experiencing from the violent bouncing of the car.
Moment of the race:
Red Bull: *Says they don’t care which of the drivers win because a win is a win*
Also Red Bull:
Thoughts moving forward: I have a lot of thoughts but I’ll focus on two for now…
- Ferrari needs to find a way to stop getting in its own way. Double DNF is absolutely unacceptable moving forward if they expect to have any chance at the constructor’s championship and having Leclerc become a world champion.
- I am worried that things are about to get real spicy with Red Bull. Sergio (Checo) Pérez was the perfect teammate last season, helping Max Verstappen where he was supposed to. But this season is different. Checo is tasting success and is looking like a solid title contender. I don’t think Checo is going to sit back and play the supporting role as easily this season unless he drops way low in the rankings, which I don’t see happening. I’m worried about what this could do to the team… I don’t want to watch this team go back to that strained place we saw them experience when Daniel Ricciardo and Verstappen clearly did not work as teammates. Especially since Checo just signed his extension!
We have a lot of racing left to do so we shall see what happens! I am hoping for absolute chaos because I want to be entertained.
Immediate reaction: It was kind of boring! They showed all these highlights from races of past years so, as a new F1 fan, I was expecting a lot more racing for position and maybe a crash. I was a little let down.
Driver of the race: After watching him gingerly exit his car and limp back to the garage, I think you’ve got to give it to Lewis Hamilton. He battled through some serious bouncing from the car and managed to finish 4th. That did not look to be an easy or fun race for him. I think he got the absolute best case result for that car.
Moment of the race: There weren’t a ton of big moments, save for Checo Pérez passing pole-sitter Charles Leclerc in turn 1 of the first lap, and that didn’t turn out to have much bearing on the race. So I think my “moment” was at the end of the race when Lando Norris was clearly fed up with being asked not to race his teammate, Daniel Ricciardo. Norris closed the gap to Ricciardo on the final lap and then pulled up beside Ricciardo’s rear wheel as they came to the checkered flag. He wasn’t going to pass, but that was a message. I’m curious to see if that dynamic between the two McLaren drivers carries through the rest of the season or if that was just some on-track angst showing up after a long weekend.
Thoughts moving forward: Please, Mercedes or Ferrari, please figure out how to fix your cars so we can have a competitive championship race down the stretch of the season. Although it would be fascinating to see how Red Bull handles their two drivers facing off for the top spot, it would be more interesting if other drivers are in the hunt as well. It feels like Mercedes missed the mark with the car this year, but you cannot count out Hamilton. Ferrari clearly has the power to give Red Bull a battle, but one more blown engine while Leclerc or Carlos Sainz are leading might turn me into the Joker. So we’ll see!