Red Eye’s Favourite Baku Memories08 Jun
The streets of Baku made a welcome return to the Formula 1 World Championship calendar last weekend, with Azerbaijan serving up another blockbuster Grand Prix.
Red Bull Racing Honda’s Max Verstappen looked to have a first victory in the Azerbaijan capital under control, only for a late tyre failure to pitch him into the barriers along the main straight late on, setting up a dramatic two-lap sprint to the chequered flag.
Sir Lewis Hamilton got the better launch from the front row alongside Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate, Sergio Perez, but locked up and ran straight on at the first corner, dropping to the rear of the field.
That meant Perez re-inherited the lead, and from there the Mexican duly sealed a second career win, his first of the season and for Red Bull.
There was a real ‘feel-good’ atmosphere on the other two steps of the podium, as Sebastian Vettel picked up his first silverware for Aston Martin in second spot – from eleventh on the grid – whilst Pierre Gasly’s heroics in the Scuderia AlphaTauri continued in third.
The gap at the championship summit remains four points between Verstappen and Hamilton after both failed to score, but crucially Perez’s victory – plus a torrid weekend for Valtteri Bottas – means Mercedes now slip 26 points adrift of Red Bull in the Constructors standings.
Such a dramatic race in Baku prompted plenty of conversation at Red Eye HQ, and got us thinking about some of our favourite moments from Baku in recent times…
1) It all ends in tears for Red Bull - 2018
With Mercedes and Ferrari both staking an early claim as the title protagonists in 2018, Daniel Ricciardo’s victory in Shanghai looked to have given Red Bull a welcome boost.
Fast forward to the next Grand Prix in Baku, however, and both Ricciardo and Max Verstappen committed the cardinal sin, crashing into one another under braking for the first corner, leading both cars out of the race.
It only served to fuel the inter-team rivalry between the pair, and Ricciardo duly left for pastures new at the end of the campaign.
2) Sebastian Vettel’s antics behind the Safety Car – 2017
After three years of Mercedes dominance in the hybrid era, it finally looked in 2017 as though Ferrari and four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel would be able to take the battle to the Silver Arrows.
Heading to Baku, Vettel led in the Drivers’ standings after eight rounds, including victories in Australia, Bahrain and Monaco as he and chief rival Lewis Hamilton traded top spot.
Hamilton led Vettel under safety car conditions during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix and just prior to the restart exiting Turn 14, Vettel’s Ferrari made contact with the rear of Hamilton’s Mercedes, damaging both his front wing and the Brit’s rear diffuser.
Frustrated at what he believed was an attempt to brake-test him, Vettel moved his car alongside Hamilton’s and swerved right, ending in contact.
Both continued, and a loose headrest would eventually ensure the race got away from Lewis, with Sebastian eventually classified fourth and extending his points lead to 14 markers.
3) Maiden podium for Lance Stroll – 2017
In that same race, Lance Stroll – then driving for Williams – took his maiden podium finish in Formula 1, finishing third after a photo finish with the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas on the line, the Finn claiming second spot to race winner Daniel Ricciardo.
Then just 18 years of age, it afforded the Canadian his own slice of Formula 1 history as the only driver other than Verstappen to stand on a Formula 1 podium in his teenage years.
4) Bottas’ hopes of victory punctured by late tyre issue – 2018
Having controlled the Grand Prix in 2018 from the front, it was heartbreak late on for Valtteri Bottas, with a tyre puncture leaving him on the sidelines just three laps from the chequered flag.
The Finn had only boxed for his set of ultra-soft tyres nine laps prior and his retirement – plus the aforementioned incident for Ricciardo and Verstappen – led to a late shake-up of the running order at the front.
Team-mate Hamilton would take the victory, with Kimi Raikkonen second for Ferrari and Force India’s Sergio Perez rounding out the rostrum.
5) “I think Ericsson hit us…” –
It’s a moment that lives long in the memory of Formula 1’s fan base on social media.
Under safety car conditions, the Haas of Romain Grosjean – now making the headlines stateside in IndyCar – dropped it heading through Turn 13 and made contact with the barriers, ending his race.
His engineer incorrectly apportioned blame for the incident at the time to Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson – also now of IndyCar – who was running behind at the time.
What are some of your favourite moments from races gone by in Baku? Let us know on social media.