As we enter the Azerbaijan race week, we look back on some key moments from the Baku City Circuit over the past few years.
Red Bull Ruin:
Possibly one of the most memorable moments was the red bulls colliding on lap 41 in 2018. The ‘fan jury’ is still out on who was at fault, the initial reaction was that Daniel Ricciardo braked late causing him to fly into the back of teammate Max Verstappen. But after reviewing the footage the Stewards officially ruled that Verstappen’s part had negligible impact on the outcome and Ricciardo admitted he was late to make his move but both drivers were reprimanded for their actions. Speaking to Will Buxton, both drivers explained they apologised after the event to each other and to the rest of the team. Both Ricciardo and Verstappen have been worlds apart from their teammates on most occasions so far this season, so fingers crossed there will be no team-on-team action for either of them this time around.
On lap 31 of the 2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Ricciardo made a simple mistake of going into turn 3 a little too hot causing him to lock up. Behind him in the Toro Rosso, Daniil Kyvat also failed to make the corner leaving him stranded and stationary behind the Renault of Danny Ric. Ricciardo then attempted to re-join the track by reversing… into the back of the Toro Rosso (which over team radio he claimed to have not seen). This incident caused both drivers to take an early retirement and Ricciardo was handed a 3 place grid penalty at the following race in Spain.
Now it may seem that Baku is bad luck for the Aussie, but in 2017 he took first place after Vettel and Hamilton went toe to toe which leads us nicely onto the next Baku Blunder.
Hot on Hamilton’s Heels:
After being left in the dust after the first safety car restart, Vettel didn’t want to miss his chance and chose to stay very close to the rear of championship rival Lewis Hamilton on the second safety car restart. Unfortunately for both drivers, this led to contact and some damage to their cars. Vettel thought that Hamilton brake checked him although he did say that he didn’t believe this was intentional as that is not the sort of person that Lewis is. The stewards decided that Hamilton had no part to play in the damage and did not issue any penalties.
Vettel however did receive a 10 second stop-go penalty for his actions after this incident. In anger, the German driver pulled alongside Hamilton and intentionally made contact. Understandably Hamilton was not best pleased by this, nor was he satisfied that a 10 second penalty was enough for the behaviour displayed by Vettel. Hamilton was also very vocal to the media when calling out Vettel on his behaviour. He explained he was hopeful that the young people watching the race did not see this as acceptable behaviour and that it didn’t ripple into the younger categories.
Bottas’ bad luck:
Recently Bottas’ bad luck has been a repeating occurrence. Evidently, it is not a new thing. In 2018 Bottas was on the receiving end of a tyre blowout as a result of a puncture picked up whilst driving through debris on lap 48/51. This cost him an almost certain win as he was more than 1 second in front of Hamilton after the safety car restart following the red bull crash. Hamilton graciously accepted that Valterri deserved the win, but was nonetheless over the moon at adding a 62nd 1st place podium to his collection.