2018 Azerbaijan Thoughts
THE BIG PICTURE: Who says Formula One is broken?
TRACK: Just think, in the first year of this race, the track produced one of the all time most boring races in F1 history. However, the next two years produced races which has now given this track a reputation of a can't miss race for F1 fans.
EVENT: There actually were a few fans, just a few, in the meager grandstands that were erected.
QUALIFYING: More action than some races as Vettel recovers from a terrible Friday, Raikkonen tank slaps pole position away, Mercedes did the best they could, Ricciardo edges Verstappen, Hartley nearly causes a Toro Rosso catastrophe, and McLaren is now slower than Williams.
RACE: We went to an F1 event and an Indy car race broke out.
START: The two four-time world champions get off to a perfect start and then the typical Baku carnage begins behind them as Formula Bumper Cars eliminates Ocon and Sirotkin and damages Alonso, Raikkonen, and Perez.
HAMILTON: Sometimes, it's better to be lucky than good. And out of nowhere, an anything but dominant Lewis is leading the championship.
BOTTAS: Valtteri did everything right this time under pressure followed by complete and utter heartbreak.
MERCEDES: At Australia, the safety car lost them the race. At Baku, the safety car won them the race.
VETTEL: His greediness lost Sebastian the championship lead.
RAIKKONEN: How his car survived the first lap smack is beyond us. And then to end up in second...
FERRARI: They can take solace in still currently having the best car.
PEREZ: Two out of three podiums at Baku. Sergio likes the chaos of this place.
OCON: The rules of the road are different at the start. You have to leave more room than usual. Esteban closed the door on Raikkonen who had nowhere to go.
FORCE INDIA: What an amazing turnaround from the start of the season. Once again, this team is the prime example on how to get the most out of the least.
SAINZ: That was fun watching Carlos take it to his former, and unloved, teammate Verstappen. Sure, the tires were different, but their scrapping was fantastic to watch.
HULKENBERG: Once again, Nico makes a mistake at Baku. Once again, that mistake could have potentially thrown away a podium spot. Once again, Nico is still looking for his first career podium.
RENAULT: They have Red Bull in their sights.
LECLERC: Now this is the Charles we expected in F1.
ALONSO: Fernando continues to get results out of nothing. But...
MCLAREN: ...where do they go from here? Because, quite frankly, their car sucks.
STROLL: Once again, Lance put in a measured performance in a chaotic place.
GASLY: A fabulous run most of the race until Magnussen tried to kill him.
HARTLEY: Brandon got a point, but it was probably the least deserved point in the race.
VERSTAPPEN: Here we go again. Max clearly made two moves to block, something many other drivers have complained about, which is against the rules. And, he did it to his own teammate, after earlier running him up against the wall. Once again, it cost him.
RICCIARDO: Perhaps he was (slightly) going for it too hard.
RED BULL: At China, their strategy was brilliant. Here, not so much. But it sure was a heck of a lot of fun for us fans to watch. And it allowed the F1 message boards to meltdown...
GROSJEAN: We're sitting here trying to come up with something to say. We can't. That's how dumbfounded we are.
FORMULA 2: Once again, F2 produces two highly entertaining races (and actually cleaner than F1, relatively speaking). GP2/F2 has always produced high end entertainment, but with the new cars this year designed for overtaking, it's taken it to a whole other level.
GRID GIRLS: Help us out here. Having beautiful women in modest pretty dresses on the grid is exploiting women because ... they don't say anything? But, having a beautiful woman in a modest pretty dress on the grid is not exploiting women because ... she is singing the national anthem? We're just trying to figure out what the rules of exploitation are here...
WORD OF THE WEEKEND: Chaos.
STAT OF THE WEEKEND: ∞ -- The number of times in total cars hit a wall, hit each other, locked up their brakes, and/or slid down an escape road.
HISTORICAL STAT OF THE WEEKEND: Charles Leclerc became the second Monégasque driver to score points since the second world championship race -- the 1950 Monaco GP. That driver was Louis Chiron who finished third in his only points getting result. Chiron's prime was before WWII. He won 18 Grands Prix, including Monaco (1931) and France three times (1931, 1934, 1937) as well as twice after WWII but before the World Championship era (1947, 1949). He won the Czechoslovakian GP three consecutive years (1931-33), making him to this day a household name there where the phrase "drives like Chiron" is used for speeding drivers. He also won the 1933 Spa 24 hours and 1954 Monte Carlo Rally. He continued racing after the war becoming the oldest driver to compete in F1 (1955 Monaco at age 55, finishing sixth which was out of the points back then) and oldest to enter an F1 race (1958 Monaco at age 58 where he only practiced). Most of his podiums came in a Bugatti, which is why the 2016 Bugatti Chiron is named after him. He died in 1979 at the age of 79.
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: Valtteri Bottas in absolute dismay, "It just blew up on its own!"
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND RUNNERUP: Valtteri Bottas on how he plans to handle the crushing loss, "Probably get hammered -- yeah, that's maybe the best."
SCHEDULE: Despite all the excitement at Bahrain, China, and Baku, we probably won't see the same at Barcelona. Or, Monaco. But who knows? The way this season has gone, we may not need to wait till Montreal for another crazy race.
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