Welcome back gear-heads! We have now approached the midway point of the season and this
weekend juicy story lines coming into the race weekend and now many more as the circus that is Formula 1 moves on. Friday practice was largely what we’ve seen in previous weeks and it was a fantastic showing from the two top teams so far in this season, Red Bull and Ferrari. Saturday was where I thought we’d get some shake up but I was wrong. The Red Bulls and Ferrari would top the grid once again with LeClerc P1, Sergio P2, Max P3 and Carlos P4. It was shaping up to be a fantastic fight for the top positions.
Now on to the winners of the weekend:
Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez:
We now have a clear answer for whom the team prefers to take home the championship and it’s
Max. I am not sure how the dynamics work in a Formula 1 team when you have two legitimate
contenders for the Drivers’ championship in the same team but I imagine Sergio is not happy about this. I really thought after Checo jumped out in front of Charles that the team would allow the Mexican to maintain position. Certain things had to happen for this to eventually change in favour of Max so potentially it was just fortunate. I can’t shake the feeling that Checo and Max are the two best drivers this season and we are going to be robbed of a true fight at the top between the two.
Perez drove incredibly well and didn’t make any mistakes just like his teammate and he was
rewarded with a P2 finish. On to Max; the team clearly have put all their eggs in the Verstappen
basket and it was evident as the two drivers switched positions after the the two Ferraris had
power unit failures (more on that later). With championship poise, Max drove a flawless race
mainly because their challengers were out of the race by the 18th lap. He was rewarded for that by finishing P1 and pushing their lead further ahead of the chasing pack. Bravo it’s starting to be a procession.
It’s rare that we have a race finish with both of the drivers getting top 4 but this is clearly a step in the right direction. It was a bit of attrition for George starting from P5 to end up in P3. Being the other beneficiary of the Ferrari collapse not in a Red Bull, Russell has now strung together a streak of eight races in a row finishing top 5. I am sure he’s pleased with these performances but you couldn’t tell by his podium celebration, he is clearly not satisfied. I think if Mercedes could have solved this porpoising issue that has seemed to plague them they would be closer to
challenging for the championship.
On to Lewis; He’s really struggled with this version of the silver arrow but that doesn’t take away from his talent to race hard and finish through adversity. Starting in P7, Hamilton pitted during the first virtual safety car so as not to lose as much time as normal and conceded 3 positions. Lewis fought his way through the pack with key battles with Ocon, Ricciardo and finally with Gasly. It was a fantastic drive from him so much so that he earned the fan vote for driver of the day. Cheers Sir Lewis Hamilton, take a bow.
On Sunday one of the most extraordinary moves was pulled off by the 4-time World Champion,
Mister Vettel. It was a reminder that he is indeed one of the top drivers that is still doing it. I’ll do
my best to describe but my words won’t do it justice. On one of the famous turns that have
claimed many a driver since the construction of the track at Baku, Sebastian had to take a safety
zone or something I am not sure what it’s called because he was unable to make the turn. This
results in him turning and spinning the car in the opposite direction making the car able to get enter the track without hitting the wall or another driver. It was breathtaking. Making some improvements from the beginning of the year, today was another example of why you can’t count out the German. This mistake and save cost him several places at the time but he raced so well to get a top 6 finish. It was vintage Vettel and his best performance to date and I for one am here for it. Danke Seb!
Ferrari & their Power Units:
This was a complete and utter disaster for the Scudderia in Baku. It couldn’t have gone any worse in terms of reliability for the Italian manufacturers as both Carlos and Charles had power unit failures.
Starting P1 for LeClerc and P4 for Sainz, the day looked promising for a good fight at the top but it just wasn’t to be. Carlos was the first victim on turn four on lap 9 the car jumped a bit when trying to make a turn and off he went into the safety turnout. Normally if you can turn or reverse out then the yellow flag will go away and the race can resume. This didn’t happen causing the first of virtual safety cars. Dejected and bemused, the Spaniard walked to the paddock still missing that first win. Charles looked to be the one that could have challenged but out of the blocks his car locked up on the right tyre causing Perez to get the inside track on the first turn and that was all she wrote. He kept it competitive for 20 laps until his engine gave out as well. A double DNF for Ferrari where no collision took place, this hadn’t happened since Silverstone 1997. Obviously a nightmare for fans and pit crew alike.
But that wasn’t all. Ferrari also sells their power units to other teams to use for the liveries. Haas
and Alfa Romeo being the other two who have been running the power unit have experienced
reliability issues. Zhou Guanyu and Kevin Magnussen were both forced to retire with engine failure making that four out of the six Ferrari power unit cars that didn’t finish due to engine problems.
If things don’t get better quick, this race for a championship for Ferrari could be well and truly over by the summer break in August. With just Charles alone, Ferrari has lost 50 points due to engine failures.
From the start of testing all we have heard about as the main complaint of the new spec cars is the porpoising or the bouncing up and down within the car. This is very pronounced in the Mercedes cars but it is clear that all of the drivers are experiencing it to some degree. So much so that Lewis and several other drivers are urging the FIA to allow some change to the rules that could allow teams to solve this problem. Christian Horner, the team principle for Red Bull racing, has come out against this saying that other teams are plotting together to get an advantage over Red Bull who seemed to have solved this problem better than most. Other teams have lobbied the governing body of Formula 1 to do something because of the risk to drivers health when it comes to back pain. The story is not going away and it will be interesting to see how this pans out but this will be used to taint who ever takes the championship.
Steeped in beauty and intrigue Azerbaijan didn’t disappoint at all. A rather new Grand Prix, being
that it has only provided six races so far, each has delivered a new winner each time. Another street circuit in the middle of a capital city with a medieval castle at the heart, what more could you ask for?
As for the racing, the strategy surprised me some as most teams elected for hard compounds to limit pit stops but then the two virtual safety cars gave teams the ability to pit with less time penalty and that spurred on some interesting decisions. A sub plot point between Daniel Ricciardo, Lando Norris and McLaren got another interesting twist with Daniel finishing above Lando and at the end they were wheel to wheel. It was fascinating stuff, especially after the comment of the CEO of the company coming out and mentioning Daniel potentially being replaced. This finish above his teammate might stave off those cries for the moment but not for long if performances don’t pick up.
There you have it gear-heads! This ends another chapter in the 2022 Formula 1 season. On to
Montreal Canada for a return since COVID locked down the country so this will be my introduction to the great white north and I for one am excited.
See you next time. Please comment and share if you like what I am doing here or if you think I’m full of crap please let me know!
Hoşça kalın arkadaşlar! (which means goodbye in Turkish)