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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

10 issues we discovered from the 2023 F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Sergio Perez’s newest road observe victory has raised his hopes of actually taking over Max Verstappen for the 2023 world title. That and the Mexican driver’s victory within the tweaked dash format, alongside along with his team-mate’s George Russell clashes, meant Perez left the Baku weekend 9 factors nearer within the factors standings. He’s now simply six again from the reigning world champion.

That’s the headline takeaway. However there was additionally Charles Leclerc taking what was Ferrari’s solely practical likelihood for 2023 qualifying glory – twice – plus huge information regarding design legend Adrian Newey and terrifying pitlane scenes come the primary race’s finish.

Right here’s the whole lot we discovered from the seventh Baku F1 weekend.

Perez has proven he can take the combat to Verstappen occasionally, however can he maintain that by the season?

Photograph by: Pink Bull Content material Pool

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1. Perez can repel a relentless Verstappen, however title exams come on unfavourable floor

There might be little doubt Perez was the driving force of the weekend simply gone, the place his year-on-year Baku beneficial properties in comparison with Verstappen had been critically spectacular. He was higher on the medium tyres early on and even reckoned he’d have had a go at passing his team-mate had Pink Bull not pulled the Dutchman in.

PLUS: How Perez laid down his title credentials in Baku

But it surely can’t be denied that the security automotive timing was the defining think about Perez’s second Baku victory, because it confined Verstappen to sliding round in his team-mate’s wake. There’s a consensus beginning to kind within the paddock that the mandated 2023 ground and diffuser modifications have made following one other automotive barely tougher than final 12 months. But, Verstappen didn’t surrender, as evidenced by his numerous wall strikes, and within the face of such sustained stress, Perez didn’t wilt. This was critically spectacular.

Perez reckons with out Melbourne-style issues he can problem Verstappen for the title. If he can sustain his excessive degree, he is likely to be proper. However this have to be balanced by the conflicting ‘staff or driver?’ explanations of the brake points Pink Bull had in Australia, which didn’t trouble Verstappen as a lot. Alternatively, Perez has been mighty on programs that swimsuit his fashion thus far in 2023.

Anticipate extra of the identical in Miami and Monaco, the place the must be exact between partitions rewards an understeer choice. The massive exams loom, nonetheless, at Imola and Barcelona.

The Red Bull/Newey partnership will continue into the future

The Pink Bull/Newey partnership will proceed into the long run

Photograph by: Pink Bull Content material Pool

2. Newey remaining at Pink Bull will increase its staggering tech energy

The Pink Bull squad is teeming with stars and on the non-driving facet, the popularity reaped by Adrian Newey all through his illustrious profession designing F1 automobiles and main staff technical departments is absolutely deserved.

Now, Pink Bull will proceed to profit from his enter for the foreseeable future as he has signed a new contract with the staff. Though the exact particulars stay beneath wraps, Newey is unquestionably set to see out the present guidelines period on this deal, probably with an eye fixed on making an attempt to maintain Pink Bull in its present dominant place when the confirmed engine and active-bodywork modifications are available for 2026.

Aston Martin’s 2022-2023 beneficial properties have proven, as soon as once more, the worth of getting glorious technical employees in place. Newey’s new contract retains him shielded from a big-money strategy from a well-funded rival (comparable to Ferrari) and at a staff he loves as a lot it loves him.

Ferrari remains superb over a single lap, but its race pace leaves a lot to be desired

Ferrari stays very good over a single lap, however its race tempo leaves quite a bit to be desired

Photograph by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

3. Ferrari’s qualifying/race imbalance limits its 2023 glory potential

Leclerc’s 2023 Baku weekend had all his biggest hits – searing qualifying pace and the notable achievement of securing two poles on one weekend, an unforced error resulting in a crash and Ferrari’s tyre administration weak spot limiting his race potential.

As a result of actually, the driving force that should now be thought of F1’s greatest and quickest qualifier, had no likelihood of conserving the Pink Bulls at bay even when Ferrari had been capable of match its top-speed prowess in both race, particularly with the DRS issue. It is because Ferrari required its drivers to be so mild on the exhausting tyres to make the GP end with out further stops. It thus couldn’t replicate its qualifying pace.

As soon as knowledgeable he may push to the top of the race on Sunday, Leclerc romped away from Fernando Alonso’s threatening Aston Martin as the ultimate third kicked off. However the Spaniard received shut by the flag, underpinning what has grow to be clear in 2023: Ferrari has a qualifying/race package imbalance which means it does greatest within the session that doesn’t produce factors.

Car issues didn't stop Aston from another strong showing in Baku

Automobile points did not cease Aston from one other robust exhibiting in Baku

Photograph by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

4. Aston can nonetheless impress even when it has latent automotive issues

Baku was at all times more likely to imperil Alonso and Aston’s podium streak given the AMR23 is draggy in comparison with its blue and crimson rivals. However a surprise technical issue additionally damage the staff final weekend.

This was that its low-drag wing with the excessive Baku air stress and bumps all mixed to trigger the DRS to oscillate and solely work intermittently in qualifying, costing 0.2s a lap. Issues had been higher within the race after the staff deployed lubricant on its wings, with Alonso then at his tenacious greatest in boldly leaping Sainz’s Ferrari at Flip 4 after the restart, then preserving his tyres for a late-race cost. That went unrewarded as Alonso ran out of time to catch the spectacular Leclerc up forward.

Though Aston had its setbacks in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Australia, its Baku issues had been the primary of its personal making. That Alonso nonetheless scooped up fourth and threatened the rostrum reinforces that the inexperienced staff is among the tales to look at all through 2023, a story enhanced by his ongoing love-in with Lance Stroll.

FIA says it will move to rectify the procedural issue which led to the Baku pitlane fiasco on the last lap

FIA says it would transfer to rectify the procedural concern which led to the Baku pitlane fiasco on the final lap

Photograph by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

5. The FIA should tackle its end-of-race pitlane procedures urgently and for good

The GP almost had a horrifying conclusion when Esteban Ocon arrived within the pitlane to make his sole pitstop on the penultimate lap, solely to “see the obstacles and the folks throughout”.

Because the Frenchman approached at excessive pace, the beginning of the pitlane had began to replenish with photographers and different occasion personnel because the podium ceremony preparations had begun. That’s not uncommon, however the protocols in place buckled when Alpine’s uncommon technique put a automotive within the pitlane at such a late stage. This additionally occurred on the 2022 Australian GP, the place paddock personnel and friends had been allowed to stroll up the pitlane as Alex Albon pitted his Williams. There have been additionally moments the place it was felt staff friends – together with celebrities – had been getting too near automobiles as they re-entered pitlanes post-race in 2022. The FIA addressed this by reminding the groups such actions weren’t allowed.

To make sure there isn’t any repeat of what occurred final Sunday, the governing physique should now tighten the procedures its employees, and people of F1, comply with to arrange the rostrum because the race concludes. It was good to see the personnel involved within the Baku incident summoned to the stewards so their actions might be understood publicly. This follows race director Niels Wittich doing likewise with the Australian GP organiser after the observe invasion in Melbourne, in what’s being considered as a Positive step in FIA openness.

This fiasco ought to by no means have been allowed to happen, however the FIA has vowed to implement the lessons of the shockingly close call before Miami this weekend.

Baku weekend was a dud by its usual standards

Baku weekend was a dud by its ordinary requirements

Photograph by: Andrew Ferraro / Motorsport Images

6. Baku doesn’t at all times produce a thriller

Forward of the weekend, the Baku race organisers had been eager to gee up unpredictable and wild motion expectations due to the occasions of earlier years. Sadly, the brand new dash nonetheless wasn’t thrilling, whereas this time Baku’s GP was a dud.

Arguably the most important speaking level was Verstappen’s heated response to George Russell pulling a Verstappen transfer on the dash’s begin – albeit with the Mercedes driver not pulling the go off as efficiently because the Dutchman’s typical dives, and so glancing and damaging the Pink Bull. However the longer GP developed into a sleep fest when the observe’s opening-turn motion didn’t produce comparable outcomes – bar Alex Albon whacking Oscar Piastri, kicking off Valtteri Bottas’s afternoon of distress.

That’s simply the way it goes generally, with Baku certainly hoping the three races it would now maintain per the phrases of its new F1 deal will run extra alongside the traces of previous thrillers. Regardless of this 12 months’s April slot, one other June change may happen relying on F1’s future geographically-logical calendar necessities.

McLaren wasn't able to show the true potential of its updated car in Baku

McLaren wasn’t capable of present the true potential of its up to date automotive in Baku

Photograph by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

7. McLaren’s updates work, however Baku doesn’t present true scale of beneficial properties

At its surprisingly downbeat 2023 automotive launch, McLaren revealed that it was pin-pointing Baku because the second it could introduce a serious replace bundle. This was geared toward restoring the orange staff to the extent it was anticipating earlier than lacking launch efficiency targets throughout its challenger’s preliminary 2023 design section.

The updates arrived as anticipated final weekend, with the staff unveiling a brand new ground structure plus new rear and beam wings geared toward chopping out drag. These introductions to the MCL60 had been then adopted by McLaren’s greatest (regular) qualifying of the season thus far final Friday night.

However Lando Norris, within the factors for the second race in a row along with his ninth-place end, reckons a much bigger profit shall be felt elsewhere for McLaren, which has additional main updates deliberate.

“[The changes are not] gonna assist that a lot within the very gradual pace corners that now we have right here,” Norris defined. “So, if you happen to have a look at it on a pure lap time foundation, [they] most likely did not assist us an excessive amount of right here. A tiny bit, however not an excessive amount of.

“Perhaps Miami will see some larger beneficial properties with a few of the extra medium pace corners. However that is it for now. It is a small step ahead, it is extra like a unique philosophy to have a baseline with. That could be a small step ahead. However extra of the larger beneficial properties are popping out sooner or later.”

Tweaked format has done nothing to boost universal love of sprints

Tweaked format has carried out nothing to spice up common love of sprints

Photograph by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

8. Up to date sprints nonetheless not universally cherished, whereas guidelines issues stay

The most important matter pre-weekend was the newest dash race format tweaks F1 and its stakeholders have enacted for 2023, with Baku the primary of six such occasions this 12 months.

The Friday qualifying session performed out as anticipated in offering F1 with the aggressive motion it desires on all three days and it was an entertaining session enhanced by Leclerc’s brilliance amongst the high-speed/close-wall hazard. There’s a sense that holding a session when most individuals (within the west a minimum of) are working hurts some TV spectators, however this additionally doesn’t think about how markets outdoors Europe usually must eat dwell F1 at lower than sociable hours anyway…

However the overriding takeaway was that whereas the second sprint-only qualifying heaps stress and subsequently jeopardy on the drivers, the shorter race motion nonetheless wasn’t massively thrilling bar the Russell/Verstappen spat. But that’s what occurs when the quickest automobiles begin on the entrance of the grid – the order simply isn’t going to magically change and even when groups do get set-ups improper from decreased apply working the outcomes aren’t vastly completely different.

The larger downside based mostly on final weekend was the revelation of guidelines loopholes that left Yuki Tsunoda and Norris with the potential of a dash Q3 shootout (appropriately used right here, not in F1’s official lexicon) on wets having used all their softs in FP1 and regular qualifying. These loopholes are anticipated to be closed earlier than the Austria dash, however display how such issues can crop up with huge format rule modifications applied in-season.

De Vries hasn't delivered on the promise of his one-off Monza showing last year

De Vries hasn’t delivered on the promise of his one-off Monza exhibiting final 12 months

Photograph by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

9. De Vries’ powerful begin to full-time F1 life continues

Along with his two unforced errors and dear crashes in Baku, Nyck de Vries’s beforehand low-key begin to full-time F1 life was thrust right into a highlight with a really adverse glare final weekend.

Having completed adrift of team-mate Tsunoda within the opening races, albeit solely technically labeled in Australia after Logan Sargeant’s late restart gaffe, de Vries wasn’t setting the world alight however was a minimum of getting laps in with AlphaTauri’s underwhelming 2023 bundle. That modified with an early GP mistake he referred to as “very foolish and pointless”, whacking the within Flip 5 wall and breaking his left-front observe rod, placing him out and triggering the security automotive interval.

Rookie errors are to be anticipated, however de Vries arrived in F1 along with his status enhanced by his Method E success and was predicted by some to problem Tsunoda instantly given how nicely he coped on his Williams one-off at Monza final 12 months.

PLUS: Azerbaijan Grand Prix Driver Ratings

The Dutchman wants a easy run in Miami to banish the adverse headlines, however with the revelation of Franz Tost’s impending AlphaTauri departure plus Helmut Marko’s long-term Pink Bull future unsure, the everyday three-year AlphaTauri stints for brand new drivers certainly aren’t assured.

An ill Piastri (Aussie) gritted his teeth through the Baku weekend

An in poor health Piastri (Aussie) gritted his tooth by the Baku weekend

Photograph by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

10. Piastri additionally has actual ‘Aussie Grit’

“I believe I’ve had about 4 items of toast for the entire weekend.”

F1 drivers are in fact often meticulous about their meals consumption for weight and efficiency causes, however that was a removed from ultimate Baku meal plan for Oscar Piastri. Most sadly for the McLaren rookie, he was struck by a abdomen bug – uncomfortable within the plushest environment, not to mention an F1 cockpit.

That he made Q3 in Friday qualifying and was simply 0.032s behind Norris, and repeated that feat on Saturday morning, all whereas feeling unwell, was spectacular. That he didn’t fade within the pack over the total GP distance confirmed Piastri has all of the ‘Aussie Grit’ you’d count on of a driver managed by Mark Webber.

Piastri has done a solid job at McLaren so far - even if he couldn't keep many solids down!

Piastri has carried out a stable job at McLaren thus far – even when he could not hold many solids down!

Photograph by: Andrew Ferraro / Motorsport Images

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