2022 F1 Race 8: Baku
Some high top speeds and re-profiled corners weren't the only talking points in Azerbaijan.
Mercedes entered the Baku Grand Prix previous about their porpoising issues with Hamilton particularly vocal about what he felt was becoming a safety concern as his car skimmed the surface of Baku's city streets. However, more critical issues were at the garage next door as Ferrari watched their chance of a strong performance go up in literal smoke. Sainz was out of the race on lap 1 after suffering a brake-by-wire (BBW) failure and ten laps later his teammate Charles LeClerc was covering the track in a white cloud as his engine failed, leaving him limping into the pits without power. With both Ferrari's out of the race, Redbull pushed on after Perez was told 'no fighting' by his engineer Max Verstappen took the lead of the race, a position he would hold. A safety car worked in George Russel's favour and allowed the Brit to maximise his strategy, several cars had pitted for an earlier virtual safety car and were either hoping for a very long stint on degrading tyres or a two-stopper. McLaren had a strong showing although towards the end of the race it became clear that the outright speed of Fernando Alonso would be too great for either driver to surmount and so they held station, a decision Norris felt was slightly unfair as he hoped to make a move on Daniel Ricciardo. Sebastian Vettel put in a strong performance for Aston Martin finishing sixth behind Gasly, a welcome return to form for the Alpha Tauri team with a fifth position finish. Bottas just missed out on points in 11th, his teammate suffering a mechanical issue, along with Magnusson, leaving questions over the Ferrari powertrains longevity and reliability. Strong defence around the city streets appeared the order of the day and the race ended with just fifteen of the twenty cars from the start line.
Ferrari may worry about their reliability but will be buoyed by their performance in qualifying and if the team can put the mechanical to bed once and we will have a very competitive season ahead. Mercedes appear to be looking for concessions or rule changes to allow them to resolve its aerodynamic issues. Lewis Hamilton appeared to really struggle to extricate himself from his car at the end of the race from being so beaten and bashed by the poor ride. Mclaren still has some territory to make up if they are to have any hopes of a third place in the constructor's championship this season, although the team appeared in good spirits.