Thinking about the final, it can be said that Baku was a bit of a crazy race. Even more than usual. Nobody got hurt, fortunately: but it came very close. And not a few have eaten their hat, as did Rockerduck, Scrooge’s rival in the famous Mickey Mouse comic strips. In short, there is certainly no joy for having registered a double trouble for Pirelli as a discriminating factor between boredom and the originality of this race. A double event that heavily influenced the race with safety car, red flag and two precious youngsters for the circus like Stroll and Verstappen.
Hamilton chooses to overdo it
But there is more: the latest twist is by Lewis Hamilton. After a race that could be defined as “desperate”, in the end he chose to overdo it, and lost. Serving on the silver platter a final podium then to a completely new trio: Perez, Vettel and Gasly. Too bad for Leclerc, who for a moment had really touched third place, but his old “friend” from his youth showed that today the team from Faenza worked better than Maranello. That said, a substantially boring, repetitive, almost “horse race” race, as the pessimists like to say, was to be expected. On the other hand, when there is little space and no escape routes, with tight curves and increasingly penalizing boundaries, the margin for drivers is reduced every year. In fact, during today’s race there were few excellent overtaking. Among the most notable, unfortunately there was already in the early stages a “row” of relegations of Leclerc from the first position to outside the podium area. With and without Drs. Always on the starting straight.
The mistakes of Mercedes and Ferrari
Today’s dreams faded into red, but the attention remained alive on the Red Bull race, with Verstappen able to take the lead, thanks to a better work of the team at the first pit stop. And, finally, the season of Perez has also blossomed, who has risen with his strength to second place and has resisted Hamilton’s attacks literally to the last and, indeed, especially to the last, when while standing still Hamilton excluded himself from a good result in an attempt to overtake the Mexican’s Red Bull. Bottas without points is still useful to Mercedes? So many mistakes, the disappointed, the defeated and the demoralized. One can only start from a dull Ferrari, fourth and eighth, while starting first and fifth: he could and should have done more. As explained, Hamilton, at the end fifteenth and penultimate under the checkered flag, had to be content with not aiming for the lead but, even more seriously, he could not count again on his less and less useful “squire”. The unfortunate Bottas, once again, did not combine a good one and ran in the second half of the standings. He had returned to the headlines for his bad luck not only in the race, not even arriving in time for the Thursday press conference due to a problem with the plane that had to transport him to Azerbaijan. It is obvious to think that the team is seriously questioning its usefulness, especially when there are young people already under contract like Russell pawing around.
The tire chaos
Little history: the race revived only by tire problems, which should not have happened. As mentioned, on lap 31 the imponderable: on the straight, under full acceleration, at very high speed close to 300 kilometers per hour, Lance Stroll’s rear left tire literally bursts. The car swerves, starts to zigzag, but luckily the angle of impact was not that strong and the car ran out of inertia further on on the asphalt. In short, great fear but unharmed pilot. Accursed situations but not too rare, because luck and the coming “traffic” count a lot. From there the safety car, a slightly more compact group and a more or less defined race, always with the two Red Bulls in front. What is not good, what will be discussed in the next few times, is that the current leader of the drivers and constructors’ world championship, in command of the race, probably runs into the same type of failure. Because a few minutes from the end, the car leading the race crashed on the finish straight with a very similar dynamic and in a very close place. Same dynamics and same “luck” for the impact on the driver.
But the impact on the dynamics of the race and on the world championship are much heavier. As had not happened for too many years, at this point of the season the leader was not the “usual” Lewis Hamilton, but the younger and “hungry” Dutchman, Verstappen. Matured year by year, this year Max finds himself in his hands a fairly fast car able to compete with Mercedes, so much so that for a whole series of factors he had given a decisive scratch in Monaco and was consolidating an advantage that seemed to all deserved. He and Red Bull were indeed building a masterpiece. They were truly mortgaging the day’s success with a very heavy double. But in the end there was a sort of “divine justice” which also canceled his score today, bringing the situation in the drivers’ championship back to the same gap after Monaco.