The Azerbaijan Grand Prix is arguably the most important Formula One race of the season, as it provides a spot on the F1 calendar for the next four years and grants the winners of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix the coveted ‘McLaren Pit Stop Trophy.’ But on Sunday, the 21st, it descended into chaos, shocking not only the tens of thousands of fans in attendance but also the race’s organisers and commentators on live television.
After only three laps of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix Lewis Hamilton was already on course to score a hat trick of poles, the first driver to achieve that feat since Michael Schumacher in 2002. That’s until the race turned into a shambles as chaos broke out on the circuit. With the weather conditions changing Hamilton’s team’s first attempt to start the race was delayed, then his car was blocked by Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
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- Lawrence Edmondson
Close F1 Publisher – At ESPN since 2009 – F1 journalist accredited by the FIA since 2011
- Nate Saunders.
Close F1 Deputy Editor – He was previously involved in rugby and British Superbikes. – Studied history at the University of Reading – Member of ESPNF1 in February 2014 For 31 laps, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix was not a classic. Max Verstappen led the first 12 laps from third, while Lewis Hamilton went the other way during pit stops between laps 11 and 13. But just as the positions for the final 20 laps seemed to be ready, the left rear tyre of Lance Stroll’s car blew up at 200 mph and all hell broke loose. What followed was one of the most remarkable F1 race finishes in recent history. This is how it went.
Stroll suffered a puncture in the long pit lane, causing his Aston Martin to crash hard into the crash barriers. Lance Stroll was helpless in his violent crash at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Joe Portlock – Formula One via Getty Images Fortunately, Stroll emerged from the wreck unscathed, but he was understandably shaken. What the march saidI’m angry that I didn’t finish the race, but I feel good. I’m not sure why I skidded in a straight line, as there was no sign of a problem, so we’ll have to investigate that. What Pirelli representative Mario Isola saidPreliminary investigation indicates that it is probably due to an external factor or a debris, a notch or something else, but I don’t want to jump to any conclusions now, because the plan now is to do a thorough investigation and prepare a report for the teams and the FIA, which will hopefully be ready for Paul Ricard. This is clearly a priority. As a result, the pit lane was closed during the safety car period, which meant that the benefit of pit stops was lost when the pit lane was reopened one lap before the race resumed on lap 35.
The only real winner was Stroll’s Aston Martin teammate Sebastian Vettel, who briefly led and stopped for a pit stop later than his rivals, leaving him with fresher tyres to attack the cars in front of him. Vettel was sixth at the start, but moved up to fourth in the next two laps ahead of Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly. Those moves were the key to his second place finish, which was handed to him on a silver platter. What Vettel said: Let’s be honest, we had fresher tires, which helped with the warm-up and the inclusion, so it was a good day, and I’m excited. It’s a great stage, and we didn’t expect it when we got here, but even on Friday, even though we weren’t anywhere, I felt pretty relaxed. We didn’t quite make it yesterday, but we did today. Sebastian Vettel laid the groundwork for his second place finish in the middle of the race. Dan Istiten – Formula One via Getty Images
In the laps before Verstagen’s puncture he, Perez and Hamilton exchanged fastest laps in the battle for second place. Perez was first with a time of 1:44.794 on lap 43. On the same lap Hamilton set a time of 1:44.769. Verstappen passed them both with a time of 1:44.481 on lap 44. There is no indication that these fast laps contributed to Verstappen’s retirement, but they do show how much pressure the drivers were under at the time. Verstapen’s time was not improved on the final lap as all drivers returned to their cars with fresh tyres after the restart.
Clive Rose/Getty Images Max Verstappen’s left rear tyre failed at the end of the lap. He was unable to stop his car and hit the wall in front of the pitlane. Verstappen, who was allowed to stop at the medical centre as a precaution, confirmed that the breakdown came out of nowhere. What Verstappen said I felt nothing until I suddenly turned right. The tire came off the rim. It’s not a pleasant burden. It’s a dangerous place to blow a tire at that speed. But that’s all fine with me, but not the car. We had the situation completely under control. Of course, it’s a shame it turned out this way. We lost a lot of points, we could have increased our lead in the championship. The fact that this happened, especially so shortly before the end, is very frustrating. Jonathan Wheatley, sporting director at Red Bull, quickly shouted over the radio to Michael Masi, director of the FIA, that there had been no warning that the car would be taken out of the race, and suggested that a red flag be raised to prevent other cars from having similar problems. The FIA agreed and declared the race red. It was then confirmed that the race would continue with a restart from standstill, which meant a two-lap sprint to the finish.
Red flag delay
According to Formula 1 rules, teams were allowed to change tires while they waited for Verstappen’s car to be cleaned and the race to resume. It was good news for Vettel, who received a completely new set of soft tyres that provided perfect grip on the track at the start. As the cars lined up at the end of pit road, Hamilton tried to think of the bigger picture in his championship battle with Verstappen. He told Mercedes that the season was a marathon, not a sprint, and that they needed to assess the risk/reward ratio accordingly. After another car in the pit lane, Red Bull feared that its other car – which was now leading the race – would not make it to the finish. After the race, Christian Horner said that the team left Perez’s engine running at the last minute because in the second half of the race the pressure in the Mexican race car’s hydraulic system dropped.
The race was resumed and the remaining drivers were lined up on the grid. As he waited for the lights to go out on the second lap, Hamilton’s brakes were visibly smoking from overheating. Hamilton had a better start than Perez, but he took the straight quickly into Turn 1. Later it turned out that he had accidentally flipped a switch that had to do with the brakes of his car. The Magic Brake setting is used by Mercedes to control the brake temperature during formation laps and under the safety car when the pace is significantly slower than normal. It should disengage when it returns to travel speed. Lewis Hamilton stopped at the start, giving Sergio Perez the win. Clive Rose/Getty Images As Hamilton said: At the restart, when Checo attacked me, I pressed the button. That frees up the brakes, so I went straight. I didn’t even realize I was touching him. It’s very hard to accept. But most of all, I feel sorry for the men and women of the team who worked so hard to get these points. We will regroup and come back stronger. Hamilton went off the straight in Turn 1, which meant another podium was in the cards. Vettel used his best grip to hold on to second place, while Pierre Gasly desperately clung to third ahead of Charles Leclerc’s advancing Ferrari.
With Vettel comfortably in second place, attention shifts to the battle for the final podium spot. Thanks to Leclerc’s presence in the DRS zone at the end of the penultimate lap, he caught up to Gasly and briefly passed him on the straight. However, Gasly fought back brilliantly, putting his car on the inside of the track to regain third position at Turn 1. Leclerc tried again in turns 2 and 4, but Gasly refused to give up his place. Pierre Gasly beat Charles Leclerc in the final two laps. Mark Thompson/Getty Images As Gasly said: Especially in the last two laps, I knew I was going to have a hard time defending my position for Charles, and that’s exactly what happened. He was there on all the straights. He passed me before the first turn. …. I saw the stage right in front of me, and I did my best. I finally did it. It was an intense battle, but exactly the way I like to race. It was very tough, but fair, and yes, I’m very happy for the guys to get that podium. Excellent defensive work by Gasly put Leclerc on the spot and he quickly defended fourth place against McLaren’s Lando Norris, but guarded the central sector. Although the final two laps looked fairly routine for Perez in the lead, he said he feared a late retirement due to hydraulic problems. like Perez said. First of all, I have to say that I feel really bad for Max, because he drove a great race and really deserved this win. It would be great to have those two on the team. But at the end of the day, it’s a great day for us. We were about to crash the car, but fortunately we were able to finish the race. And indeed, it was quite difficult until the end. At the back of the field there was even more drama when Haas driver Nikita Mazepin almost caused a massive crash with teammate Mick Schumacher. Schumacher forced Mazepin back on the straight, but the Russian had no time to open up a gap on the right. Schumacher avoids contact and finishes with a small lead, but he’s not happy. A furious Schumacher told radio after the event: What was that? Honestly, is he trying to kill us? Incident on the last lap between Schumacher and Mazepin pic.twitter.com/VjTsbRyUq1 – ESPN F1 (@ESPNF1) 6. June 2021
After the race
With this result, the difference in points between Verstappen and Hamilton in the driver’s classification remains unchanged at four points after six races. In the constructors’ championship, Red Bull extended its lead over Mercedes to 26 points thanks to Perez’s win and Valtteri Bottas’ slip. There was a feeling of like on both sides, but there is no doubt that Mercedes left Baku feeling more hurt by the result. What Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said It’s just painful. You could say that we almost had the cup in our hands because Max didn’t score, but I don’t know, the emotions, the frustration is just overwhelming at the moment. I don’t know what I would have preferred, third place or this result. I can’t tell you. I knew we had to be at our best to fight for the championship and our car was not at its best all weekend. Operationally, we should be above reproach. And we haven’t done all of that the last two weekends. What Red Bull boss Christian Horner said Baku has been a Mercedes stronghold for several years. So we expected the battle with them to be very fierce, and the fact that both cars are leading the race is more than we could have hoped for this weekend. It’s frustrating when you can’t do a double take. It would be our first win since 2016, when we did everything right. After losing Max, it was a big rollercoaster of emotions when Sergio lost pressure in the hydraulics and it was very clear if he would make it to the end of the race. Then the red flag was shown and part of me wanted the race to be called on the spot, because on the restart the only thing that could have changed was that we lost the race and gave Lewis a bunch of points in return. In fact, I’m glad they were brought back to life. The pressure in Checo’s hydraulic system didn’t change, Lewis made a mistake in the first corner and we won the race. Max left us in the same position as when he arrived and we increased our lead in the Constructors’ Championship.When the Azerbaijan Grand Prix was first held in 2013, high-speed corners and tight bends made it a true test of driver and car. Last year, the track was repaved and upgraded for the first time since then, but it was still tight and fast enough to provide an exciting track. This year, the track was not even close to being up to par.. Read more about f1 2022 and let us know what you think.
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