The Azerbaijan GP culminated with Max Verstappen on the top step of the podium after his main rival for the championship, Charles Leclerc, retired from the race with a power unit failure. The race was a bit of a mixed bag and it did not have as many "jaw drop" moments as in the years prior.
Surprisingly, we only had virtual safety car periods and no full safety car. There weren't any instances of drivers tangling with each other and carbon fiber flying all over the place.
The race was, well, a mellowed-down version of what we expected from Baku. Having said that, this was a weekend where we saw some amazing performances and some not-so-good ones as well.
How did some of the best drivers in the world perform at the 2022 F1 Azerbaijan GP?
Lewis Hamilton (Started: 7th, Finished: 4th)
Another weekend where Lewis Hamilton was second-best in the Mercedes squad. The 37-year-old played catch-up against his teammate George Russell all weekend and was always 2-3 tenths behind the latter when it mattered.
Hamilton qualified 7th for the Azerbaijan GP and a spirited drive through the field ensured a 4th-place finish in the race. Props to the Mercedes driver for fighting through the physical pain due to bouncing, but in the end, that's seven defeats in a row for the seven-time world champion against his teammate.
George Russell (Started: 5th, Finished: 3rd)
Even though the young Mercedes driver might not be getting the recognition he deserves at the moment, Toto Wolff and Mercedes will rest assured that they have found an able (and probably cheaper) replacement for Lewis Hamilton.
While the topsy-turvy nature of Hamilton's season continues, George Russell is doing a splendid job. This was another well-deserved podium for the Mercedes driver as he continues to grow in confidence.
Max Verstappen (Started: 3rd, Finished: 1st)
Max Verstappen is not entirely comfortable with the Red Bull under him. He has often been unable to hook a single lap together in qualifying and was out-qualified by teammate Sergio Perez for the second race in a row. Yet, the Dutchman leads the championship by 21 points.
The Red Bull driver was ruthless, full of opportunism, and ready to lunge down the inside whenever he had the chance in his title battle last season. It appears that Verstappen has matured this year. He knows he's intrinsically faster than his teammate, so the odd qualifying defeat does not rattle him. He was probably lucky with Charles Leclerc's retirement, but overall, it was a timely reminder of who the true title favorite is this season.
Sergio Perez (Started: 2nd, Finished: 2nd)
Sergio Perez just got a dose of what Valtteri Bottas went through at Mercedes. The Mexican has been driving outstandingly so far this season and beating Max Verstappen twice in a row in qualifying has been very impressive.
Once the race starts and he competes head-to-head with Verstappen, however, you understand there are levels to this and Perez just cannot match up to those. A strong weekend for the 32-year-old as he climbs to second in the drivers' standings, but he probably got put in his place by his teammate at the Azerbaijan GP.
Charles Leclerc (Started: 1st, Finished: DNF)
That lap from Charles Leclerc in qualifying was one of the best he's done all season. He messed up the start and conceded the lead to Sergio Perez, but after that, Leclerc was surprisingly able to stay within touching distance to the Red Bull in front.
The PU failure put paid to his hopes in the race as the Ferrari driver fell further behind in the championship. Another weekend where potential and results just didn't meet.
Carlos Sainz (Started: 4th, Finished: DNF)
Carlos Sainz is simply unable to string results together at the moment. Early in the race, it became clear that the second Ferrari was going to be the odd one out in the battle as the Spaniard started falling back from the group.
Before his DNF, Sainz was already struggling to keep up with the lead group and if his race had continued, he would not be looking at a strong result. A DNF is unfortunate but the Ferrari driver needs to get up to speed within the team.
Lando Norris (Started: 11th, Finished: 9th)
Lando Norris did what he could with a McLaren that was down on straight-line speed at the Azerbaijan GP. The alternative strategy meant that Norris was always fending off Daniel Ricciardo behind him and then in the second stint it was the other way around. A decent weekend and points for the Brit but another underwhelming race for the team.
Daniel Ricciardo (Started: 12th, Finished: 8th)
A race that proved what Daniel Ricciardo has been saying all along. The car is just not to his liking and hence, he has no confidence in it. At the Azerbaijan GP, Ricciardo had confidence and it showed.
He had the edge on his teammate during the race and, while he tolerated the preposterous strategy of staying stuck behind his teammate for the entire first stint, he nevertheless scored a decent chunk of points. A timely reminder to anyone who doubts Ricciardo's talents.
Fernando Alonso (Started: 10th, Finished: 7th)
Fernando Alonso is starting to get the ball rolling this season with another strong showing. Alpine trialed the low downforce rear wing at Baku. Whether it worked or not is still a question mark, but it helped the Spaniard fend off multiple cars as he secured strong points once again for his team.
Esteban Ocon (Started: 13th, Finished: 10th)
A rather listless Azerbaijan GP for Esteban Ocon who seems to be going through a string of bad results at the moment. The yellow flag in Q2 ruined his lap and forced an elimination but the race was rather poor for the Alpine driver.
He spent most of his race trying to fend off drivers chasing him down and was not very competitive this weekend. The Frenchman needs to bring consistency to his game as he's starting to get exposed by his teammate once again this season.
Pierre Gasly (Started: 6th, Finished: 5th)
Pierre Gasly once again showed that the only thing that comes between him and a strong result is the car. At the Azerbaijan GP, he had the fourth fastest car on the grid. He used that to qualify 6th and finish 5th in the race. A very impressive outing by the French driver.
Yuki Tsunoda (Started:8th, Finished: 13th)
The Japanese driver had a strong drive at the Azerbaijan GP. He wasn't more than a few tenths behind Pierre Gasly at any point this weekend and qualified an impressive 8th for the race as well until the DRS flap broke and compromised his Sunday. Regardless, it was a decent weekend for Yuki Tsunoda, who might be a bit unhappy with how the race panned out.
Sebastian Vettel (Started: 9th, Finished: 6th)
To understand the "9" that we've given Sebastian Vettel, all you need to do is take a look at what he can do in that Aston Martin and what Lance Stroll is doing. There was a day and night difference in the performance of the two drivers and what was even more impressive than that was the intrinsic pace of the AMR22. If not for that excursion off the track in Turn 3, Vettel could have finished even higher in the Azerbaijan GP.
Lance Stroll (Started: 19th, Finished: DNF)
It's just horrible if your teammate is running competitively in the top-10 and you are getting eliminated in Q1. Lance Stroll is starting to somewhat get more and more exposed as Sebastian Vettel comes into his own in Aston Martin. The Canadian had another rather poor outing at the Azerbaijan GP.
Valtteri Bottas (Started: 15th, Finished: 11th)
A rare off-weekend for Valtteri Bottas at the Azerbaijan GP this one. The Finnish driver never found his groove around the track and struggled throughout. A plethora of DNFs helped him climb the order, but this is one race that Bottas might want to forget this season.
Guanyu Zhou (Started: 14th, Finished: DNF)
An impressive weekend for Guanyu Zhou as he had the measure of Valtteri Bottas throughout. There was surely a possibility of points if he hadn't suffered another DNF but it is what it is sometimes in F1 as the Chinese driver bites the bullet once again.
Kevin Magnussen (Started: 16th, Finished: DNF)
Kevin Magnussen was making a strong recovery after a rather mediocre qualifying before the car cried enough. Looking at the progress that he was making, points were surely a possibility for the Dane. A return to F1 has certainly boosted Magnussen's reputation.
Mick Schumacher (Started: 20th, Finished: 14th)
Mick Schumacher was down on confidence from the very first lap he did around Baku. It does appear that the talking to received by the young German from team principal Guenther Steiner has got to his head a bit. This was a poor Azerbaijan GP race weekend for Schumacher, definitely not one to pull out of the bag if you want a long career in F1.
Alex Albon (Started: 17th, Finished: 12th)
It's hard to evaluate Alex Albon when his teammate is performing so poorly this season. Having said that, a six-tenths per lap gap between Albon and Nicholas Latifi was impressive not just in the Azerbaijan GP qualifying but also in the race as well.
Nicholas Latifi (Started 18th, Finished: 15th)
Another typical Nicholas Latifi weekend. Qualifying showed that he was six-tenths slower than his teammate and then the Azerbaijan GP showed that he did not have the guile or racecraft of his teammate either.
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