2019 Azerbaijan Thoughts
THE BIG PICTURE: And now it's Bottas on top, once again thanks to that fastest lap point in Australia. So, is this really going to be a two-driver battle? We're skeptical, but hopeful. Because it certainly doesn't look like it's going to be a two team battle.
EVENT: What a colossal joke Friday was. A manhole cover comes loose destroying George Russell's car. (Did you see the track worker trying to put the manhole cover back in place? And then jumping on it to keep it in place? Yeah, that's going to work just fine...) The flatbed smashing into the advertising bridge dumping hydraulic fluid over Russell's car. In F2, two marshals pushing the car in front of the rear tires, so when the car starts up, they inevitably get run over. The Keystone Cops Grand Prix.
TRACK: The official information states the track's capacity is 18,500. That's it. There are high school events which get more than that.
QUALIFYING: The session which seemingly would never end thanks to Kubica then Leclerc; once again, somehow, Ferrari can't get it done when it counts after being fastest all weekend; once again Bottas pips Hamilton; Giovinazzi and Kvyat do great; Hulkenberg and Grosjean do not.
RACE: We should have known. Every single driver during every single pre-race interview said the key to Baku was to stay out of trouble and take advantage of other driver's problems. Well, if they all know to stay out of trouble, guess what? There's nobody left to cause problems. Ergo, nothing happened. Hopefully next year, they will all forget...
START: An amazingly clean start and first lap, a riveting Mercedes battle for first place, a great start by Ricciardo, Perez, and Norris, not so much for Leclerc.
BOTTAS: The perfect Baku redemption.
HAMILTON: How much longer before Lewis stops his niceties towards Bottas and starts playing head games?
OCON: Esteban, perhaps it's time to start looking for a different team...
MERCEDES: Sandbaggers extraordinaire.
VETTEL: Yeah, he was in the race.
LECLERC: Despite all the hype -- deservedly so -- over Charles, he is still young and will make the -- in his words -- "stupid" mistake. Which is why Ferrari tends not to take young, upcoming drivers. But Leclerc's upside was too good to pass up. He will deliver ... in time.
FERRARI: Their strategy, especially with Leclerc, was really all they could do. No criticism this time. They just weren't fast enough.
VERSTAPPEN: Grabbing the positions the top two teams are willing to give him.
GASLY: Speed wise, he was better. But, too many other issues preventing Pierre from doing anything.
HONDA: The engine is simply just not up to par just yet.
PEREZ: No surprise Sergio is the best of the rest at Baku, a track he always does well on.
STROLL: Still no Q2, but a lot better in the race.
SAINZ: Did his part for the team.
NORRIS: Another strong weekend.
MCLAREN: Suddenly, McLaren is fourth in the standings. Barely, but still...
RAIKKONEN: A fine drive from pit lane.
GIOVINAZZI: A not so fine drive from the back.
HAAS: Picture Mario Andretti saying, "No, speed! No, speed!"
KVYAT: This time Daniil was torpedoed.
RICCIARDO: Daniel, the first thing they teach you in Driver's Ed -- always look in your mirrors before backing up.
WILLIAMS: Well, look at it this way. It can't possibly get worse. Can it...?
F2: All the wild and crazy (and stupid) driving was in F2.
WORD OF THE WEEKEND: Incompetence.
STAT OF THE WEEKEND: 0 -- The number of safety cars at Baku, of all places. Though, there was one totally unnecessary virtual safety car. Just like a NASCAR yellow.
HISTORICAL STAT OF THE WEEKEND: Lots of talk about this being the best start for a team in F1 history. Depending on how you measure that, it's either true or false. You be the judge. In 1988, McLaren-Honda won 15 of 16 races, including the first 11. They did not, however, take 1-2 in the first race, never mind the first four. Alain Prost won at Brazil while Gerhard Berger in a Ferrari took second. In the second race, San Marino, McLaren took 1-2, won by Ayrton Senna with Prost in second. They also took 1-2, in the opposite order, in the fourth race, Mexico. So, just a 50% 1-2 rate in the first four races.
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: Daniel Ricciardo, dripping with sarcasm, when he posted the original slogan from the Azerbaijan organizers after the debacle of FP1, "Well done Baku."
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND RUNNERUP: Lewis Hamilton also weighed in on the FP1 debacle, "How could they have not checked and sealed the drains? Oh well, just gives me extra time to catch up on Game of Thrones."
SCHEDULE: Back to the site of all the winter testing which Ferrari dominated -- Barcelona. This time, Ferrari really will be the car to beat. No, really. It's Ferrari's race to dominate. Guaranteed. You can take it to the bank. Why are you laughing?!
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