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Latest News
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Whitewash in Baku

After a lot of work to get the ancient-and-modern city of Baku ready for some of the world's fastest cars, the new European Grand Prix host finally opened its doors to the F1 circus.

A self-inflicted gearbox replacement after he brushed the wall saw Perez taking a 5-place penalty before qualifying.

Rosberg drew first blood in Q1, setting the faster banker lap by a tenth. Grosjean seemed to be looking for every single escape road, reporting brake issues to the team before Hamilton outbraked himself and had to take a lot of time to drag that Mercedes from the wall he almost hit. They weren't the only two having issues either, as the yellow flags littered Q1.

Ferrari took half the session just to get a car on track due to ECU problems with Vettel, but presumably tactical reasons for Raikkonen.

Raikkonen caused a yellow flag in the first sector in the final timed minute of the first session, hampering one or two cars on their last laps.

Manor locked out row 9 ahead of Button, Ericsson and the Renaults – Button being the first McLaren to drop out of Q1 this year.

Q2's first yellows came out after a huge spin for Hulkenberg, ruining a few fast laps in the process. Hamilton lost out in that incident, then locked up later and blew his second run too. At that point he was in 10th and less than a tenth up on Ricciardo. Ahead, Rosberg was 1.783 seconds up on Perez who sat P2. Gutierrez then ran deep and brought out more yellows that very nearly caused problems for Hamilton. His one clean lap put him P2, although with a small flat spot which may have to be taken into the race if safety issues couldn't be proved.

Grosjean fell 11th ahead of Hulkenberg, Sainz, Alonso, Gutierrez and Nasr's out-of-its-depth Sauber.

Hamilton's first Q3 lap was ruined by another double lockup putting him into the runoff, also wrecking Rosberg's first run. Crucially, the championship leader had a fresh set left while the reigning champion did not. Rosberg didn't take the new tyres though. At the front, Force India sat ahead of both Ferraris and two thirds of the Red Bull family cars in Q3.

Hamilton wrecked his front suspension on his final flyer, leaving the track filled with yellows. His teammate managed pole though. Red flags prevented Verstappen setting a time, meaning the youngster would take 10th on the grid.

HOWEVER.

There was still over 2 minutes on the clock, so while it took a while to clear Hamilton's car, there was time for a few drivers to get one more lap in. Verstappen and Bottas both tried to head the line at the pit exit, the Williams surely getting an unsafe release ahead of Vettel. Bottas at least offered the German track position again, which he took. Verstappen also snuck through.

Everyone bar Mercedes was on track again at this point, although Massa was too far back to make it onto a fast lap. Verstappen and Bottas were side by side into turn 1. The Williams driver reported he was abandoning the lap having ruined Verstappen's last run.

Rosberg held P1 ahead of Perez, Ricciardo, Vettel, Raikkonen, Massa, Kvyat, Bottas, Verstappen and Hamilton. Vettel and Ricciardo had identical times, but the Australian got there first.

Magnussen was forced to start the race from the pit lane after a late gearbox change. Sainz dropped to 18th with the same penalty.

Hulkenberg, Wehrlein and Ericsson started on softs, the rest of the field on supers.

Contact near the back damaged Haryanto's wing but otherwise it was clean as Rosberg led Ricciardo, Ferrari and Perez. Gutierrez also lost bits of his wing in a seperate incident. Haryanto pitted and changed to softs.

On lap 3 Hamilton cleared Kvyat for 9th as his fightback started. Grosjean then took the last point from the Toro Rosso.

Verstappen made a mistake and lost 7th to Bottas. Verstappen tried to fight back into the first corner but was held wide and Hamilton took advantage.

Vettel took 2nd from Ricciardo, but the Ferrari's tail was very loose at times. Vettel was also dragging a slowly shredding plastic bag which was looking very close to his radiator inlet.

Verstappen pitted on lap 5 as did Alonso. Both Toro Rossos also made early stops.

Ricciardo pitted on lap 6 as Vettel's carrier bag decided it didn't like the scarlet roller-coaster and bailed on the pit straight.

Kvyat was wheeled out of the race, apparently a problem that first showed itself during a slow pit stop proving terminal. Suspension problems were later given as the cause of retirement.

Raikkonen was the first driver to pit for Ferrari on lap 8, covering off Massa. Vettel had been told to pit to cover Ricciardo but insisted pace was good.

Hamilton nailed Bottas into the first corner on lap 11, while Raikkonen almost failed to pass Wehrlein's Manor.

Raikkonen was put under investigation for crossing the pit entry line during an overtake – a 5-second penalty then awarded.

Hamilton reported vibrations under breaking having not yet pitted on lap 15. He pitted at the end of that lap, rejoining ahead of Verstappen.

Perez pitted a lap later, holding position ahead of Hamilton.

Raikkonen passed Ricciardo on lap 18, DRS gifting the Ferrari 4th place.

Perez took 7th from Massa, while Hamilton sat behind the Williams. Bottas pulled the sister car into the pits, taking 10th on resuming the race. Ahead, Massa lost out to Hamilton.

Vettel made his stop on lap 20, rejoining ahead of Ricciardo.

Verstappen made his second stop to take the medium tyres on lap 20. A lap later Rosberg made his first stop for softs, comfortably holding the lead as he continued to command the race.

Perez and Hamilton both jumped Ricciardo in the same DRS straight as they started lap 22. The Red Bull made his second stop to take the medium tyres.

Limited harvesting for Hamilton was hampering his battle with Perez, the Force India pulling away steadily.

Massa made his second stop on lap 28, dropping to 9th with new soft tyres.

Sainz became the second retirement, reporting suspension problems. Kvyat's retirement apparently wasn't an isolated incident.

Wehrlein reported his brakes had failed as he coasted off the track and into retirement at the first corner.

Stuck in 4th gear, Alonso became the fourth retiree with less than 10 laps to go. Button put the sister McLaren past Magnussen for 11th.

Against team instructions, Hamilton played with the settings and eventually got the right combination.

Verstappen took 9th from Massa while his teammate struggled to take 7th from Hulkenberg – an identical fight in engine terms. Eventually that move too was made, while Verstappen lingered in the background. The second Red Bull did make the move on Hulkenberg with just under 2 laps remaining, vindicating the medium tyre somewhat.

A commanding Grand Chelem from Rosberg ws followed by Vettel and Perez, Raikkonen 4th thanks to the penalty but also a last lap dive from the Mexican. Hamilton limped home 5th, followed by Bottas, both Red Bulls, Hulkenberg and Massa. Button then led Nasr, Grosjean, both Renaults, Gutierrez, Ericsson and Haryanto to a scoreless finish.

 

Tufty


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