Welcome to our review of the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
The below was originally posted on the Fox Sports website as their support for keen amateur sports writers continues. We are just borrowing our Good, Bad and Ugly descriptions to continue our season long tallying of all the best and worst to come up with an overall winner of the Martini and Chaves medal for Best and Worst of the year.
Please go to the original article on Fox Sports for the full review.
Looked a certainty for either the bad or ugly, as he was beaten by fellow Red Bull driver Max Verstappen on Friday when the Red Bulls looked quick. Crashed in Qualifying after trying in vain to better his young team mate. Lost places at the start and ended up 9th after 1 lap. And struggled to keep up with Lance Stroll, the young Canadian who had previously been written off as out of depth. An early pit stop to check out the car dropped him to 17th and any chance of a fourth straight podium gone.
Then after a good fight back through the field, he took full advantage of clashes between Force Indias, Kimi Raikkonen’s woes and issues for Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel and unbelievably found himself leading a Grand Prix.
It took what will likely be one of the season’s best overtakes as he stormed up the inside of turn 1 on the restart after the Red Flag to overtake two cars at once and somehow keep it out of the barriers.
Max Verstappen’s retirements may be hiding the real performance positions of the Red Bull drivers, but who cares if you win Grands Prix when they are offered.
The maligned Lance Stroll kicked off a good weekend by being fast in Friday’s Practice session, and outqualified his vastly more experience team mate on Saturday.
His teammate Massa made up positions at the start, and after the two Safety Cars and the retirements the Williams drivers found themselves in 4th (Massa) and 7th (Stroll). After the clashes which caused the Red Flag they found themselves in 3rd and 4th. Lost out to a massively impressive overtake by Daniel Ricciardo after the red flag.
A car failure cost Massa a great result, but Lance Stroll continued flying the flag for Williams and was pressuring Ricciardo for third after the clashes ahead. That fight for third became a fight for the win after Hamilton’s and Vettel’s forced pit stops ahead.
He looked composed for a young driver on track for his first ever podium, and held on for a scarcely believable podium place for the young Canadian in his Williams. Although would have been annoyed to lose second within metres of the finish line after Bottas stole his second place. Cruel on the youngster, he deserved second.
Welcome points for the Haas driver.
Even more welcome points for the McLaren driver. Probably not enough for him to hang around at McLaren in 2018.
THE RACE ITSELF
Whilst you can’t always have a season full of these races, they are certainly welcome at least a couple of times a year.
Formula One’s main feeder category is always worth the effort to catch up with, and the two races on offer at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix showcased all that’s good. Watch for Charles Leclerc who can drive.
A first lap clash with Bottas lost him places and left him with a slightly damaged car. A clash after the second Safety Car completed the job. No points for the Finn and all that Monaco momentum all but gone now. Would no doubt have been thrilled to be sent out after the Red Flag to run around a lap behind, and then to get a penalty for having the car fixed.
An accident on Friday, car issues prevented a lap in qualifying. He then retired on Lap 8 with car issues. A truly awful weekend, again. It is not always his fault, he has had a lot of car issues, but he also made his fair share of mistakes.
He came into the weekend under pressure and it showed in media commitments. His 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix would not have helped his team’s pressure nor his confidence. In saying that, Renault could do worse than replace him with the GP2 Champion and Red Bull protégé Pierre Gasly for the rest of the season. The young Frenchman is fast and brave in racing conditions, and since Red Bull have Renault engines a deal to suit both parties could surely be worked out.
More bad for his luck rather than performance. Probably would have won the race if not for the car failure. A 4th retirement in six races is hiding his speed and his dominance over his Australian team mate.
Their drivers collided on the first lap, which sent Carlos Sainz to the back of the field after a spin. Kvyat retired on Lap 10. Carlos Sainz fought back well, but the early clash and retirement cost them a big haul of points.
Making it two teams to have their drivers crash into each other for the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Tensions were high after the Canadian Grand Prix where Ocon and Perez were fighting for a podium and arguing about team orders and that will have doubled at minimum after this race.
In a race where they were likely to bag a heap of points as they so often do when there’s issues with the big teams in front they will be disappointed not to take advantage.
A third team who had drivers clash with each other. Racing for tenth a valuable point, it was lucky not to cost them dear.
Threw away a potential podium with a crash into the barriers.
He behaviour would be called Road Rage on the normal street, and probably should be sitting out a few races.
(OR NOT QUITE SURE WHERE TO PUT IT)
THE VETTEL-HAMILTON CLASH BEHIND SAFETY CAR
Whether or not Lewis Hamilton brake tested the Ferrari driver, and it looked like he didn’t, Sebastian Vettel’s reaction was poor and lucky it didn’t take both drivers out. It certainly showed the ugly side to the German that comes out when things are going his way. He did extend his Championship lead though, so ended up OK for him.
It all looked so good for Lewis Hamilton. He produced a qualifying lap that his idol Senna would have been proud of, and that pole position and a reasonable start was a good thing as the two Finns just behind him tangled.
Was justifiably annoyed at the Safety Cars as it reduced his excellent lead he had established. However a clash behind one of them with Sebastian Vettel where they nearly took each other out as the Briton braked was typical of the chaotic race that the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix was.
He then had to pit for the trivial reason of a loose head rest which not only cost him the lead, but saw him fall behind Sebastian Vettel.
Although the end result wasn’t what he would have wanted, his issues were external to his great drive in the race. Cost a race win by something so small as a loose head rest.
Still, it’s not a race win that looked odds on earlier in the race.
Second corner clash with Kimi, he unfortunately clipped the inside kerb too hard which threw him into the Ferrari. That meant he had to crawl around on the second longest lap of the year. He came out of the pits dead last and a long way behind his race leading team mate.
His fight back was very admirable as he took out a podium spot despite being so far back. However, with only a one-year contract, and some big names sniffing around for a better drive, he can’t afford to be having too many bad weekends. Stealing second just before the finish line was unfair.
MARTINI-CHAVES MEDAL FOR GURGLER BEST/WORST OF THE YEAR
Here is where we tally up all the good, bad and ugly for the season.
- 1 Point for Good
- 1 Point for Bad
-0.5 for Ugly
There are bonus points as below. Drivers/Teams listed below have received a good and/or bad-ugly. Those with an overall score of 0 have had good and bad. Those not listed have been mediocre and been neither good or bad all season.
ULTIMATE WINNERS AND LOSERS
Here’s where an extra bonus point is added and subtracted for the very best and very worst. Plus a valuable one point for the Free Practice hero of the weekend, to the driver that got a chance to shine where they normally never get the chance to in big sessions.
WINNER – Lance Stroll – couldn’t even make fellow Canadian Jacques Villeneuve happy with his first points in Montreal. Surely his drive in Azerbaijan will change his mind.
LOSER – Sebastian Vettel. Showing cracks and that he is almost dangerous when into full sook mode.
FREE PRACTICE HERO MAX VERSTAPPEN – Deserves something for the speed after being fast on the Friday.
2017 MARTINI-CHAVES MEDAL FOR GURGLER BEST/WORST OF THE YEAR
5.5 Points – Sebastian Vettel
4.5 Points – Lewis Hamilton
3 Points – Fernando Alonso
3 Points – Sergio Perez
3 Points – Felipe Massa
2.5 Points – Valtteri Bottas
2.5 Points Max Verstappen
1.5 Points – Dan Ricciardo
1.5 Point – Lance Stroll
1 Point – Esteban Ocon
1 Point – Pascal Wehrlein
1 Point – Carlos Sainz
1 Point – Jenson Button
1 Point – Kevin Magnusson
-1 Point – Marcus Ericsson
-1 Point – Antonio Giovanazzi
-1 Point Romain Grosjean
-3 Point – Kimi Raikkonen
-3.5 Points – Jolyon Palmer
2 Points – Force India
1 Point – Ferrari
0 Point – Toro Rosso
0 Point – Mercedes
0 Points – Haas
-1 Point – Williams
-1 Point – FIA
-1 Point – Renault
-1.5 Point – Red Bull
-2 Point – Sauber
-6 Points – McLaren