2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Discussion in 'Sports' started by Swami, Apr 26, 2018.

  1. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Warrior

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    F1 moves to its only third visit to Baku to what is actually a decent street circuit, last year's race was pretty good, here's hoping for more of the same.

    Swami
     
  2. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Warrior

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    Azerbaijan Grand Prix: Daniel Ricciardo top as Ferrari & Mercedes struggle
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    By Andrew Benson

    Chief F1 writer



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    Final practice and qualifying are live on 5 live sports extra and the BBC Sport website on Saturday
    Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo edged Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen in second practice at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

    Ricciardo, who won the last race in China, was just 0.069 seconds clear of Raikkonen as championship leader Sebastian Vettel struggled.

    Vettel was 11th, 1.3secs off the pace, and struggling for grip as he suffered lock-ups and off-track moments.


    Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton were fourth and fifth, behind the second Red Bull of Max Verstappen.

    Bottas was 0.775secs off the pace as Mercedes, like Vettel, appeared to be suffering on the tricky Baku street track and its low-grip, low-abrasion surface.

    However, Vettel said his lack of pace was caused only by his own driving.

    "This place is a little tricky to find the rhythm," he said. "This morning I didn't find it, the beginning of the second session I wasn't up to speed, but I was pretty happy with the long run at the end.

    "I think it's OK. It is all in me - the car is fine. I didn't get the laps together."

    Hamilton, meanwhile, said: "Overall, we weren't quick enough.

    "Both Red Bull and Ferrari seem to be ahead of us at the moment, so we've got some work to do. I'm going to be knocking on the doors of all the engineers overnight, so that we can hopefully make the right changes."

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    Ricciardo is aiming for back-to-back wins at Baku
    Perhaps this is a three-way title fight
    Red Bull looked very strong in all conditions, with Verstappen apparently quickest from Hamilton on the race-simulation runs towards the end of the session, when the teams run with high fuel to get an idea of form for the start of the grand prix.

    Red Bull's big concern will be that, on usual form, they are likely to fall back in the fight for grid positions in qualifying on Saturday as they lack the extra power-boost modes enjoyed by Mercedes and Ferrari.

    Verstappen, who has been criticised for a series of incidents in all three races so far this season, crashed early in the first session but recovered well to be only 0.116secs slower than Ricciardo overall and be fastest on the longer runs.

    And, continuing a pattern that has emerged throughout the first three races, Raikkonen appeared to be the fastest Ferrari driver, at least on Friday.

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    Verstappen hit the wall during first practice
    Midfield teams benefit
    McLaren's Fernando Alonso was sixth quickest, only 0.9secs off the pace, in an encouraging performance for the team the day after chief technical officer Tim Goss was removed from his position in the first act of a major technical reorganisation following a disappointing start to the season.

    McLaren have been struggling with a lack of straight-line speed this season as focus has switched to the quality of their chassis after three years of blaming their former Honda engines for their lack of performance.

    But, after saying on Thursday that the team would experiment with a lower-drag set-up, Alonso was in reasonably good shape on the straights - 10km/h slower than Ricciardo, who was up among the fastest, but 3km/h quicker than Verstappen.

    Force India's Esteban Ocon was seventh fastest, ahead of the Renault of Carlos Sainz, Kevin Magnussen's Haas and the second Renault of Nico Hulkenberg.

    Williams, after their best showing of the season in first practice in eighth and 11th places, fell back to their usual positions, with Lance Stroll, who finished third in Baku last year, 14th and Sergey Sirotkin 17th.

    Who will win in Baku?
    Choose your top three drivers from the list below

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    Bullseye: Is there an Azerbaijan darts league Haas' Kevin Magnussen could join?
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    Somebody paint a flake in the ice cream for Kimi
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    Tight and twisty, old and new, Azerbaijan has it all
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    Can Charles Leclerc really contort his legs into that position

    Swami
     
  3. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Warrior

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    Azerbaijan GP: Sebastian Vettel top in final practice
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    By Andrew Benson

    Chief F1 writer



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    Listen to qualifying on 5 live sports extra and the BBC Sport website at 14:00 BST
    Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel set an imposing pace as he headed Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes in final practice at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

    The German was 0.361 seconds clear of Hamilton, who trails him by nine points in the championship after three races.

    Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was third ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen.


    The Dutchman leapt to fourth in a last dash after a crash by Williams' Sergey Sirotkin had brought out the red flag and left time for one flying lap.

    The Russian novice piled into the wall on the exit of Turn Three after misjudging his entry speed and understeering wide with less than 10 minutes to go in the session.

    The mistake left all the drivers struggling to complete their preparation for qualifying and Red Bull were particularly affected after leaving their runs late.

    Verstappen's team-mate Daniel Ricciardo ended the session down in 12th place after not improving on the hectic final lap.

    Ferrari and Mercedes, by contrast, did their running earlier and Vettel looks in good shape for a third pole position in a row after dominating the session.

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    Kimi, his wife Minttu and his forearm baby tattoo arrive in Baku
    The four-time world champion was struggling to find his rhythm with the car on Friday but some changes overnight transformed his pace.

    At one stage early in the session Vettel was 0.7secs clear of the field but Hamilton edged closer as the hour progressed.

    The Briton was behind team-mate Valtteri Bottas for much of the session and was on the radio asking his engineers for advice on how to improve his pace.

    He was told he was losing out by using third gear rather than fourth in Turn 16, the last corner on to the straight, and after changing his approach he snuck ahead of the Finn, who ended up fifth, by 0.117secs.

    Despite Sirotkin's crash, Williams looked in better shape than at any time on what has been a disappointing start to the season.

    Sirotkin finished the session classified 10th, ahead of McLaren's Fernando Alonso, while team-mate Lance Stroll was eighth, only 1.032secs off the pace.

    Force India's Sergio Perez was sixth ahead of Haas driver Kevin Magnussen, with the second Force India of Esteban Ocon sandwiched between the two Williams cars.

    Swami
     
  4. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Warrior

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    Azerbaijan Grand Prix: Sebastian Vettel on pole, Lewis Hamilton second
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    By Andrew Benson

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    Read more about sharing.
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    Sunday's race starts at 13:10 BST, with live coverage on the BBC Sport website & 5 live sports extra
    Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel beat Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix to take his third consecutive pole position.

    The German, nine points clear of Hamilton in the championship, was just 0.179 seconds clear of his rival around the demanding Baku street circuit.

    Kimi Raikkonen was on course to snatch pole from his team-mate only to make a mistake at the final corner of his lap.


    The Finn was sixth, behind Valtteri Bottas' Mercedes and the Red Bulls.

    Ferrari win three-way battle for pole
    Vettel did all his work on his first run of the top-10 shootout, when he was 0.342secs quicker than Hamilton.

    The world champion closed up on his final lap but it was not enough, meaning a lock-up at Turn Three by Vettel on his final lap was irrelevant.

    Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull have showed similar pace through the practice sessions and it was hard to work out who would take top spot.

    Ferrari have won twice already this season, with Red Bull taking victory at the last race in China. Mercedes are yet to win.

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    Will we see any collisions at the castle walls?
    Raikkonen the weak link
    Raikkonen will be kicking himself for losing what appeared to be his best chance of pole since Monaco last year.

    A series of errors not only cost him top spot but also compromised his race strategy.

    Following a mistake in the second session - which means he must begin the race on a less durable tyre compound - Raikkonen made another in the top-10 shootout at Turn 16, straddling the kerb and coming close to hitting the wall on the exit.

    He tried again, and was on course to beat Vettel's time, but made yet another mistake - again at Turn 16 - where he had a huge slide and then 'tank-slapper', which affected his speed all the way up the long straight to the line.

    He ended up 0.992secs off pole and will start sixth, behind the Red Bulls - with Daniel Ricciardo just pipping by Max Verstappen by 0.083secs - and on a worse tyre.

    The Red Bulls were also very close to Bottas, with Ricciardo just 0.074secs off.

    Huge crash narrowly avoided
    The street circuit in Baku is one of the narrowest and fastest tracks on the F1 calendar, and there was a dramatic escape for the Toro Rosso drivers, when a misunderstanding led to Pierre Gasly almost running into the back of team-mate Brendon Hartley on the 180mph run through the kinks before Turn 15.

    Gasly was on a flying lap and Hartley was in the middle of the track with a puncture. The New Zealander tried to get out of the way, going one way and then the other, but the Frenchman clipped him as he went past, fortunately only lightly in what could have been a horrendous accident had he been a few centimetres further to the left.

    Gasly swore over the radio to the team saying it was "unacceptable". Hartley apologised, saying: "I was trying to get out of the way and I went the wrong way. I feel pretty stupid."

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    Gasly was furious with his team-mate, saying he didn't know how he avoided him
    Feel the force
    The Force Indias were best of the rest, Esteban Ocon edging Sergio Perez by 0.024secs and more than 0.5secs quicker than Renault's Nico Hulkenberg, who was 0.285secs ahead of team-mate Carlos Sainz the last of the top 10.

    Hulkenberg has a five-place penalty for an unauthorised gearbox change and will start 14th, one place behind McLaren's Fernando Alonso, who starts 13th for the third consecutive race.

    The Spaniard's team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne was knocked out in Q1, nearly half a second slower than Alonso.

    Williams had their best qualifying of the season, with Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin 11th and 12th ahead of Alonso.

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    The race takes place in downtown Baku
    What they said
    Hamilton, who has not won a race since the US Grand Prix last October, said: "That was close. We did the best job we could. It was very close.

    "They have been quick all weekend. We are in the mix. This is the fifth best track to overtake and I am going to try to give Sebastian a hard time."

    Vettel said: "I felt the car was good in Q1, Q2 and then in the last section I knew I had the car that does what I want.

    "The first lap I was quite happy but there were maybe two parts where it was not exactly perfect.

    "I knew the track would ramp up and I went out to go quicker. I was little bit up but then I locked up into Turn Three. I am a little upset with that because I thought I had a bit more but the important thing is we got pole.

    "It will be an intense race. Anything can happen. Safety cars are likely. The important thing is the car is in a good place."

    Raikkonen said: "I took it easily on the entry to make sure and just got some really odd snap and lost it and didn't spin but I knew once I got snap it was gone. I had a very good lap and it would have been the best possible outcome but small mistake and then you have that huge straight and it's gone."

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    Hamilton is looking for his first win in Baku - maybe not at backgammon, though
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    Kimi Raikkonen, his wife Minttu and his forearm baby tattoo arrive in Baku

    Swami
     
  5. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Warrior

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    Lewis Hamilton wins Azerbaijan Grand Prix after Red Bulls crash
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    By Andrew Benson

    Chief F1 writer

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    Lewis Hamilton was handed victory in a madcap finish to a chaotic, incident-strewn Azerbaijan Grand Prix during which both Red Bulls sensationally collided with each other.

    Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas was on course to win after Mercedes took advantage of a late safety car to jump long-time leader Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari.

    But, after Vettel had thrown away second place with a mistake at the restart, Bottas suffered a puncture on the next lap.


    His two rivals out of the way, Hamilton was given victory and the championship lead on a plate after looking set to finish third.

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    Two weeks after being hailed as the master overtaker, Ricciardo may have to take some of the blame for Red Bull's worst intra-team incident for years
    There will be words
    The late safety car had been triggered by a crash between the two Red Bulls, when Daniel Ricciardo slammed into the back of team-mate Max Verstappen while trying to pass into the first corner.

    There will be recriminations at Red Bull, whose drivers had appeared on the edge of a crash for much of the race as Ricciardo fought to pass Verstappen and the Dutchman defended right on the edge of acceptability, and some might say beyond.

    Red Bull are well known for employing two drivers who fight fiercely on track, but there has not been a coming together of this magnitude since Vettel and Mark Webber ended each other's race during the Turkish Grand Prix in 2010.

    But although their incident - for which they both received a reprimand from race stewards - will generate headlines they had a bit part in a race that for so long Vettel looked to have in a headlock.

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    Perez returned to the podium for the first time since Baku two years ago
    How did Vettel lose that?
    The German led from pole and, after a safety car was triggered by several first-lap crashes, built a three-second lead on the first racing lap.

    Hamilton could not quite stay with Vettel and his hopes appeared to be over when he locked his wheels going into Turn One on lap 22.

    That forced him to stop for fresh tyres and demoted him to third place, and now there was a cat-and-mouse game between Vettel and Bottas.

    Vettel and Ferrari stuck it out with a conventional strategy, stopping on lap 28 for soft tyres, while Mercedes left Bottas out hoping for a safety-car period.

    It came, thanks to the Red Bulls, as Ricciardo cannoned into the back of Verstappen.

    As a stop under the safety car costs less time than one in racing conditions, Bottas was able to emerge in the lead.

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    That's three different winners in four races this season
    The question of whether he could hold off Vettel in what appeared to be a faster car became academic when the German lunged for the inside at the restart with four laps left and ran wide, letting Hamilton and the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen through. Force India's Sergio Perez moved past into third soon afterwards.

    Bottas then seemed set for the win, but ran over debris on the next lap and suffered a major tyre failure as he passed the pits with three laps to go.

    Hamilton, who took his first win since last October's US Grand Prix and a four-point championship lead over Vettel, was disbelieving afterwards.

    "Really quite an emotional race," he said. "Valtteri did such an exceptional job and really deserved the win. I was very fortunate. It feels a bit odd, but I've got to take it."

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    Red Bull team-mates Vettel and Webber collided while travelling in a straight line in 2010
    How the Red Bull madness unfolded
    The Red Bulls were expected to contend for victory but, instead, in the opening laps found themselves under pressure from the Renaults of Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg, who were on softer tyres.

    Verstappen's passing move on Ricciardo at Turn Two at the first restart on lap six let Sainz past the Australian and the Spaniard was soon past the Dutchman, too.

    After Hulkenberg took himself out of the reckoning by hitting the wall in his second unforced error in Baku in two races, the Red Bulls set to it.

    Ricciardo was obviously faster, and tried several times to pass Verstappen, the edgiest moment when the Dutchman nudged his team-mate to the wall in Turn One as Ricciardo tried to pass around the outside on lap 12.

    Ricciardo settled back for a while but then attacked again on 35, this time succeeding in his outside move at Turn One.

    But, when they pitted two laps apart on laps 38 and 39, Ricciardo somehow lost out despite stopping first, which should give an advantage.

    Next time around, Ricciardo sought to make amends. He dummied to the outside, Verstappen defended and then defended again to the inside, and Ricciardo locked his brakes and smashed into the back of his team-mate, the pair spinning into the run-off area.

    The incident will cause controversy - and while Ricciardo undoubtedly misjudged it, there will be those who feel Verstappen paid the price for moving too many times in the braking zone, something he has made a controversial trademark since his debut.

    Mercedes non-executive director Niki Lauda sided with Ricciardo, saying the incident was "70% Verstappen's fault because he moved too many times".

    There may also be an argument the team should have intervened earlier, knowing the intensity of the drivers' personal battle, and given Ricciardo was clearly the quicker driver on this day.

    Another mad restart
    There was even drama during the final safety-car period, when Haas driver Romain Grosjean spun out of seventh place while trying to warm his tyres.

    Hamilton criticised race director Charlie Whiting for not stopping the race, rather than sending out a flat-bed truck to recover Grosjean's car.

    That decision would also have provided more racing laps at the end.

    Vettel, after his error at the final restart, survived to finish fourth, ahead of Sainz, a stellar performance by rookie Charles Leclerc in the Sauber and McLaren's Fernando Alonso, seventh despite suffering two punctures and floor damage when caught in a first-lap incident with Hulkenberg and Williams' Sergey Sirotkin.

    Sirotkin was later handed a three-place grid penalty at the next race for triggering the incident.

    Driver of the day
    Leclerc, who has made his F1 debut this season with high expectations on him, qualified superbly in 14th place for Sauber and dodged the melee on the first lap to emerge 10th. He ran in the top 10 for most of the race and took a superb sixth to finally deliver on his potential as a future star after a shaky start to his career
    What happens next?
    F1 returns to Europe in two weeks' time for the Spanish Grand Prix, where everyone will have updates to their cars and Mercedes will be seeking to overturn Ferrari's obvious pace advantage.

    Almost a footnote after the late-race incidents, but the agenda was set by several first-lap collisions
    You are beautiful, no matter what they say... about your overtaking skills: Christina Aguilera oversaw the madness at Red Bull
    Hamilton may look at his first victory in Azerbaijan through rose-tinted spectacles
    Hello darkness, my old friend: Maybe Hulkenberg's rare mistake - where he crashed into the wall for the second time in as many years in Baku - will be forgotten after all the action
    The race takes place in downtown Baku
    Swami
     

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