2021 Azerbaijan Thoughts
THE BIG PICTURE: We have to admit, we thought the idea of stopping the race with two laps to go, restarting it with a standing start, followed by a two-lap sprint was very unfair for what all the drivers worked for in the previous 48 laps. It smacked of being very NASCAR-ish. But, we also have to admit, we absolutely loved it. However, it's really not something we want to see every race. Leave those actions for gimmick races, not F1.
EVENT: Silverstone 2020 all over again.
TRACK: Yeah, we still love this track.
QUALIFYING: This is what everyone thought Monaco would be like -- crash, crash, crash, crash. Leclerc wins out due to someone else's crash this time, Hamilton finds his pace and wins the key duel as Verstappen is behind him, Gasly is superb, Bottas is not, and Yuki calms down until the end.
RACE: Well, if that didn't get you jumping off your seat, you're not a racing fan.
START: Amazingly another super clean street circuit start, Leclerc has a superb getaway, Verstappen is conservative, and Perez aggressively gains two positions.
RESTART: Hamilton's brakes were smoking, Perez doesn't quite get the jump he wants, but Hamilton locks up and slides off, while Gasly and Leclerc have an epic battle.
PEREZ: Sergio is finally getting the hang of the Red Bull at a track he has always loved. Even if he "backed into" the victory, it was well deserved as he drove calmly and fast under intense pressure. And that's not even considering how his car barely held together to the checker.
VERSTAPPEN: That was Max's race victory. No doubt. Remember this one when the season ends and the championship points are final.
HAMILTON: By the same token, remember this mistake by Lewis when the season ends and the championship points are final.
BOTTAS: Another miserable, slow race by Valtteri at a street circuit.
VETTEL: Another fantastic drive coupled with the team's smart decision to change tires during the safety car.
GASLY: Super fast all weekend, Pierre was properly rewarded with a podium.
LECLERC: He knew he didn't have the car for the win, but considering the wild ending, Charles did have the car for the podium, but his friend beat him to it.
SAINZ: Carlos pulled a Lewis before Lewis pulled a Carlos.
MCLAREN: Norris and Ricciardo weren't quite as fast and lucky as the Ferraris, and for that the papaya team dropped behind the red team in the standings.
ALONSO: New tires and a restart saw Fernando act like his younger self for the final two laps.
TSUNODA: Much, much better. After four terrible races, Yuki got his act back together.
HAAS: The Russian Haas driver tries to kill the German Haas driver. And in typical Steiner fashion, Guenther tells us there is nothing to see here.
STROLL: A nasty hit through no fault of Lance.
LATIFI: Terrible communications by his team left Nicholas out to dry.
PIRELLI: If all the failures were indeed caused by cuts from debris, one has to wonder how this track gets cleaned...
F2: Some of the decisions by the Stewards were head scratchers. Nonetheless, Estonian Juri Vips dominated the weekend with wins in the second sprint race and the all important feature race.
WORD OF THE WEEKEND: Left Rear.
STAT OF THE WEEKEND: 4 -- The number of red flags during qualifying, tying for the most with 2016 Hungary.
TWEET OF THE WEEKEND: Haas tweeted out the excitement we all felt before the restart, "SPRINT RACE!"
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: There was only one word which could be understood in the tirade from Max Verstappen after crashing, "Beeeeeeeeeep tire beeeeeeeeeeeep."
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND RUNNERUP: Sebastian Vettel in his excitement getting back on the podium, "That's a podium, man! That's a wrap!"
SCHEDULE: Any race after Baku is going to be a letdown. But to follow this up with Paul "where the hell is the track" Ricard is a huge disappointment.
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