2022 F1 Azerbaijan GP: What did we learn?

Red Bull secured another 1-2 finish at the Azerbaijan GP
Red Bull secured another 1-2 finish at the Azerbaijan GP

The 2022 F1 Azerbaijan GP is finally in our rearview mirrors and it is safe to say that the event did not produce as much drama as its previous iterations. Despite anticipating multiple crashes, safety cars, and stoppages, the race only produced two virtual safety car periods. While the two Ferrari retirements definitely evoked some gasps from the fans and the paddock, the rest of the race seemed pretty straightforward.

Max Verstappen capitalized on Charles Leclerc's retirement and brought home his fifth victory of the season. Sergio Perez trailed the reigning world champion across the finish line and secured Red Bull's second 1-2 finish in 2022. George Russell secured another podium for Mercedes after benefitting from Ferrari's double DNF.

So, here is what we learned from the Azerbaijan GP.

5 things we learned from the 2022 Azerbaijan GP?

#1 Sergio Perez is no competition for Max Verstappen

That was a good race!! 🀩πŸ’ͺWe had incredible pace today πŸ”₯ To have another maximum team score makes it a really good day for us @redbullracing πŸ’ͺIt was a challenging weekend for us here in Baku, so to win this one feels absolutely great πŸ‘Š#KeepPushing #AzerbaijanGP

Many F1 pundits were excited at the prospect of Sergio Perez scoring his first win in Monaco and beating Max Verstappen in qualifying for two races in a row, however, come race day in Baku, it was painfully clear that the Mexican had no answer for his teammate's pace.

Verstappen has always been the quicker of the two Red Bull drivers. While Perez has done a fantastic job of closing the gap between the two this year, he is still always a little slower than the Dutchman, especially during the races.

In the Azerbaijan GP, the 24-year-old world champion overtook Perez with ease and never looked back. In the final stages of the race, he had a lead of approximately 20 seconds over Perez.

While it would be better for the championship if Sergio Perez could hold on to his strong form and regularly challenge both his teammate and Leclerc, it appears as though he might never really have the upper hand over Verstappen.

#2 Ferrari is unable to match Red Bull

Red Bull took home a fifth consecutive win at the Azerbaijan GP while Ferrari suffered a double DNF due to reliability issues. What makes matters worse is that the Italian team could have won at Imola, Barcelona, and Monaco if not for its reliability and strategic issues. The Maranello-based team is currently on a five-race losing streak.

The championship battle was evened out after the first eight races. The reliability issues that first plagued Red Bull at the start of the season now seem to affect Ferrari. While the Austrian team has come back strong and did not falter in any other department, Ferrari has shown that when the pressure mounts, it crumbles. One instance of this was the Monaco GP, where they pitted Leclerc and lost the lead in the race.

The Italian squad could certainly make a comeback in this extremely long season. The question is: will it be before Red Bull runs away with the title?

#3 Mercedes is out of title contention

Keeping his run of consecutive top five finishes going πŸ‘ A few words from @GeorgeRussell63 before we wrap Sunday in Baku πŸŽ™οΈ

The Azerbaijan GP marked the end of any hopes of a Mercedes title charge late in the season. The issues with bouncing that the car suffers from are fundamental and even though the team was able to tune out most of it at Barcelona, the surface was smoother and less bumpy than the subsequent tracks. With a fundamentally inferior car, the German team is doomed to struggle at selected tracks on the F1 calendar.

Regardless, while the next major upgrade at Silverstone is the last ray of hope for the team, it will be far behind in both the championships to make any sort of impact even if the car does become competitive. The team's 1.3-second deficit in the Azerbaijan GP qualifying session showed that it might have to give up its hopes of becoming a title contender this year. Mercedes might luck into a win or two in 2022, but that's the extent of success fans should probably expect from the team.

#4 Sebastian Vettel has hit a purple patch at Aston Martin

#SV5 and the #AzerbaijanGP. That's it. That's the tweet.πŸ’š

Sebastian Vettel shines once more in Aston Martin. Some say that he has regained his old form. He is definitely putting that car in places it should not be. Furthermore, he is thoroughly outperforming his teammate. Sebastian Vettel had half a second over Lance Stroll at times this season. While Stroll might not be world-championship material, he is certainly a capable driver. The young driver has scored numerous podiums and a pole position in his career. This only goes to show that four-time world champion is a man on a mission this season. He has been vocal about the fact that him staying in the sport after 2022 depends on whether he has a car that can fight further up the field.

#5 Bouncing is a grave problem, but the paddock is divided

The Azerbaijan GP was probably one of the hardest races on the calendar for the drivers in these cars because of the incessant bouncing they experienced on the long straight. The cars bounced violently throughout the Azerbaijan GP and the end of the race saw Lewis Hamilton struggling to get out of his car after having complained of his back aching during the event.

While drivers like George Russell and Carlos Sainz have been vocal about the effects of porpoising on drivers' health, other drivers like Charles Leclerc have said that it doesn't bother them that much. While bouncing is certainly an issue, as was witnessed at the Azerbaijan GP, most teams, like Red Bull, believe that the changes should be applied at the team level rather than requiring a change in regulations. The argument is that teams can easily fix the bouncing by compromising on performance and raising the ride height of the cars.

Mercedes, the team which suffers the most from this due to its extremely low ride height, has come out in favor of a change in regulation, while Red Bull, arguably the only car that has its porpoising in control, is against such a change.

It will be interesting to see how things unfold during the season. Catch F1 next at the Canadian GP on June 19, 2022.

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Edited by Anmol Gandhi
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