Lewis Hamilton is back to his on-again, off-again state of mind. The triple world champion’s crash during qualifying alowed Hamilton’s German teammate Nico Rosberg to snatch the pole in the opening F1 race in Baku.
Not close enough
Yes, both Ferrari and Red Bull Racing appear a lot closer to Mercedes this season. The Silver Arrows are made to fight for their wins (something that sadly did not happen very often in the previous two years). The “Mercs”, however, still have the pace advantage. Thus, when Hamilton makes a mistake in qualifying, it is mostly Rosberg that profits.
Another British miracle?
Hamilton has had a few difficult races already this season, but in each one of them he has managed to get the best possible points score. It will probably be more of the same today, unless Hamilton managed to start in Azerbaijan as badly as he did in Canada. A poor start from P10 gets you in serious trouble even in a monster Mercedes car.
For the race win or for a Ferrari seat
Kimi Raikkonen is most likely retiring permanently at the end of this season. The top three starters in Baku (Nico Rosberg, Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo) have all been mentioned as potential replacements. A win by Rosberg or by Ricciardo will hardly hard big sway in the Ferrari seat fight. Perez, however, has the chance to bring himself back into contention. The Mexican left the red family when he joined McLaren in 2013, but the management at Scuderia will find it a lot easier to hire him rather than Rosberg and Ricciardo. Mercedes and RBR will certainly fight tooth and nail to keep them away from Maranello.
Beautiful scenery for a beautiful race
Baku is a charming city perched on the Caspian sea. The maiden race in Azerbaijan has the potential to be very interesting. A mixed-up grid, a difficult track and an “endless” long straight combine fairly well to bring together a race to remember.