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Featured European GP Debrief: Rosberg Dominates in Azerbaijan

Discussion in 'Formula 1' started by Ben Stevens, Jun 20, 2016.

  1. Ben Stevens

    Ben Stevens

    bakupodium.JPG Taking the second grand slam of his career, Nico Rosberg was supreme at the Baku City Circuit.

    Who said learning a new circuit wasn’t easy?

    In taking his fifth win of the season, Nico Rosberg could have almost claimed Azerbaijani as one of his many nationalities, looking as at home as he ever has to win the inaugural European-but-not-really-but-who-cares-cause-money Grand Prix. The German went a perfect four-for-four in the race, taking the pole, victory and fastest lap while leading every lap to record the second grand slam of his career (and season) and just the 57th in F1’s history.

    Conceding a sizable chunk of his championship lead to teammate Lewis Hamilton over the last two races, it was an ideal time for such a bounce-back from the German. In contrast, Hamilton endured a dismal two days that saw him finish a distant fifth. Accompanying Rosberg on the podium were Sebastian Vettel and Sergio Perez, with the latter particularly impressive in backing up his Monaco exploits with a drive from seventh.

    Unfortunately for the hosts, Baku failed to create much on-track excitement in its F1 debut, with Rosberg so far out in front and a dearth of battling behind him. Instead, this was a race marked by what happened around the racing, which thankfully gave us plenty to discuss, so read on for a look at the 2016 European Grand Prix.

    rosbaku.JPG Rosberg at his absolute best in grand slam victory.

    If Nico Rosberg wanted to keep his perch atop the driver’s standings, he needed to answer quickly. In Azerbaijan, he did. Emphatically.

    Backing up his qualifying performance with a leisurely stroll to a grand slam, Rosberg was undoubtedly got the better of Lewis Hamilton after the Brit had closed the championship gap to 9 points just seven days earlier.

    After Hamilton swept all three time sheets in practice, Rosberg proceeded to completely flip the script in qualifying, the difference so stark it was as if they were no longer driving the same car. Where Hamilton was unsettled, Rosberg was composed, the latter able to coax his Mercedes wherever he wanted, while the former struggled to keep his planted, eventually ending up in the barriers. His path to victory cleared, Rosberg continued his dominance on Sunday – never troubled, able to up his pace at will, he proved untouchable.

    Such a performance couldn’t have come at a better time for Rosberg, who instead of leaving Baku with Hamilton breathing down his neck, has his advantage back up to 24 points. Especially given the disappointment of Rosberg’s fifth in Canada, being able to regain his mojo so quickly is sure to do wonders for his confidence. This won’t be the last time this year he has to answer Hamilton, and so far, he’s doing exactly that.

    kimibaku.jpg Radio ban sends Hamilton, Raikkonen ga-ga.

    A European GP in Asia, self-congratulatory billboards and multiple track invasions by plastic bags, Sunday’s race was rife with unintentional comedy. No more was that the case than with the one-sided conversations taking place on team radio.

    Thanks to the FIA’s ban on driver coaching, F1 fans were treated to a radio game of “find the right button” on the part of Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen, as both drivers grappled with their car’s software and some frustratingly tight-lipped engineers. In the end both drivers lost out on a podium, leaving them to question the current rules’ validity in their post-race interviews.

    Introduced at the start of the 2015 season, this was not the first time the radio ban had stymied a driver in their attempt to resolve such an issue, but the comical manner of Sunday’s exchanges (such as Hamilton attempting to play “hot or cold”) emphasises the need for some tweaking. What the current rules fail to recognise is that there’s a fairly significant difference between being able to tell a driver when and where he should adjust his brake bias, and walking him through a software error – the former is coaching, the latter is tech support. No one wants to see a Hamilton or Raikkonen lose time because they didn’t memorise the manual – it’s not indicative of their skill as a driver, but under the current rules it’s treated as it is.

    If the reaction in the paddock was any indication, modifying the rule is unlikely to meet any opposition. Fans aren’t going to be turned off the sport because Lewis Hamilton can be told how to get his power back. Let the drivers get on with their racing.

    azerflag.JPG Underwhelming first time out in Baku.

    After one race down in Baku, it’s evident that while you can take the European GP out of Valencia, you can’t always take the Valencia out of the European GP.

    Lambasted as a track that consistently produced one of the most mundane races on the calendar, in Baku the Valencia Street Circuit seems to have found its Azerbaijani equivalent, at least in its initial offering. A race largely devoid of wheel-to-wheel action, this was instead an example of DRS at its worst.

    Where Valencia bored because of its difficulty to pass, Baku did the same for the exact opposite reason. Thanks to a single DRS detection point, followed by two considerably long zones, under-pressure drivers were left more defenseless than Azerbaijan on its human rights record, as closing drivers breezed leisurely by with their low-drag advantage down the straights. Given several drivers had professed an appreciation for the track, there was legitimate reason for anticipation, but with such ease of passing, any excitement for the race was quickly deflated.

    That said, this is not an argument for eliminating DRS entirely – at least in its current state, faster cars are rewarded by being able to get past slower ones, but as we saw on Sunday, on some tracks it’s as likely to hinder the racing as it is to help it. Perhaps in launching the newest “Tilkedrome”, Baku’s organisers were a little too obsessed with reaching headline grabbing top-speeds – as Valtteri Bottas did by reaching (according to Williams) 378 kph on Saturday – and that’s what has exacerbated the problem. A more aggressive tyre choice or change to the DRS zones could be all the race needs, but it’s not a good start for a race no-one wanted, in a place no-one asked for.

    Will Rosberg be able to carry his form into Austria? Does the radio ban need to be changed? What’s your verdict on the Baku City Circuit? Sound off in the comments below.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 21, 2016
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  2. Chris Stacey

    Chris Stacey
    Ted Kravitz Appreciation Society Staff Premium Member

    The first like 10 laps were actually really entertaining, but as the field strung out, it was incredibly boring. DRS isn't even needed on the pit straight which allowed for too many push-button overtakes.
    • Agree Agree x 3
  3. Thomas Hinss

    Thomas Hinss
    Aussie Commentator and Writer Staff

    It certainly wasn't the most exciting of races, that much is for sure. Have to agree on the DRS zones, definitely far too long and made overtaking far too easy. I think they should also add a second DRS detection zone for the second zone out of turn two, give the car that was overtaken on the main straight a possible chance to fight back, possibly making battles last longer as well.

    Have to also agree on the tyres, did seem like they were a non-issue for a lot of the field. That may partially be down to the nature of the track (a number of long straights mean plenty of time for the tyres to cool down). It was intriguing to see the Red Bull's being one of the few teams to really struggle with the tyres, though more with 'switching them on' than tyre wear.

    Definitely a lot of tweaks needing to be made for next season if they want to get that excitement level up. I do believe there's potential for exciting and close racing around the track, hopefully with some changes this can be found in seasons to come :)
  4. Timmieturner12

    Premium Member

    One word to describe this entire race: Borefest
    Which is a shame, I had high hopes that this race would be a stunner, shame it proved me wrong.
  5. The whole franchise is boring . Cars ,sound ,drivers , drivers interviews , fake drivers behavior new tracks.It became so boring that I'm watching now only starts , but not the whole lap , :roflmao:
    • Agree Agree x 3
  6. Andrew Harper

    Andrew Harper
    Premium Member

    I saw the last twenty laps or so after Le Mans and yes I have to agree the race at that point wasn't very interesting to watch.

    It may be fun to drive on the PC as it's something different but they make me laugh about it being a street circuit. Anyone whose seen an Indycar or one of the old Champcar races will see what a street circuit is all about. It's supposed to be bumpy, rough, dusty and hard work (and that encourages overtaking through mistakes). Baku looked like a regular circuit. Not a criticism just an observation:)

    I do give them credit though for all the work they put into the track and it's facilities, looked top class.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  7. I think this explains it

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  8. GTSpeedster

    FOV Geek Premium Member

    After 24 hours of witnessing proper racing with really exotic and exciting machinery around a great race track, the mere prospect of having to tune to watch this Mickey Mouse DRS formula almost lead me to commit suicide...
    • Haha Haha x 1
  9. 4 8 15 16 23 42 108

    4 8 15 16 23 42 108
    Only the 5th-most famous race driver from Kerpen

    Why did you tune in? I read about it in my weekly motor racing magazine on Tuesdays.
    • Haha Haha x 1
  10. GTSpeedster

    FOV Geek Premium Member

    Who said I did? I'm still here after all. Alive. :p
    • Love Love x 1
    • Haha Haha x 1
  11. Race should never have gone ahead, especially in a place like Azerbaijan.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  12. Hamilton still looking which is the right button to touch...
  13. [​IMG]
  14. MoerasGrizzly

    Premium Member

  15. Eurasian GP would have made more sense or better yet, they could have just called it the Azerbaijani GP.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  16. Boring race, ordinary track, terrible place to hold a GP (along the same lines as Abu Dhabi and Bahrain) and the pathetic rule not allowing the team to tell Hamilton what was happening with his car.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  17. I actually thought the track itself was kind of neat - everyone has plenty of choice comments for "Tilke-fied" tracks...well, this track is pretty much the opposite.
    The race itself though was a snooze fest. Mercedes straight line speed was just too dominant - no one could challenge.
  18. MoerasGrizzly

    Premium Member

    I just needed an excuse to plug CGPGrey :)
  19. Dennis Phelan

    Dennis Phelan
    Let's just get out there and RACE!! Premium Member

    Horrible circuit. Let me say again, Horrible circuit!
    I think they need to cut down on the number of buttons/switches on the drivers steering wheel, then everything will be OK.
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