In the days following the Grand Prix in Baku, one event has stolen the headlines of every website and newspaper as well as the “insightful” opinions of Twitter users. Yes, that collision. I’m not going to make comment here, but maybe its time to move on?
Anyway, the fallout from that collision has meant that some great performances have been overlooked somewhat. Lets start with the winner:
Daniel Ricciardo – It is true that Ricciardo did benefit from other’s misfortune but considering that he was in 17th place at one point it was still a pretty impressive drive to keep out of trouble and be in a position to pick up the pieces out of the chaos. There were some classic Ricciardo overtakes too, late on the brakes but never out of control. His triple overtake on the two Williams and Nico Hulkenberg at the second safety car restart was crucial to his win. Watch the onboard and you’ll realise how impressive it was.
Valtteri Bottas – After a collision at only the second corner of the race, Bottas’ weekend looked done and dusted. He was a lap down after a front wing change and completely out of contention. The two safety cars – which changed the shape of the race – helped Bottas un-lap himself and allowed him to make his way back up the field. Like Ricciardo, he was helped by misfortune of others but Bottas still had to make it work. His closing down of Stroll in the closing laps was impressive and exhilarating to watch. From a lap down to second is a pretty great recovery drive.
Lance Stroll – Like many others, I have been critical of Stroll. His early performances have been poor. However his points in Canada have seemed to release him somewhat. The Canadian was on it all weekend in Baku, regularly outpacing his experienced teammate. Arguably Massa had the pace in the race to win had it not been for a damper failure. This should not take away from Stroll’s performance. For a young rookie this was a faultless drive. He kept out of trouble and soaked up the pressure of faster cars from behind. An extra horse in his engine might have helped him to hold on to second place, however a podium spot was well deserved.
Kevin Magnussen – Ever since his debut podium in Australia 2014 for McLaren, I have rarely seen anything about Magnussen that has deeply impressed me. Baku was a welcome change. It was unlikely he was going to hold onto third place but he made of a good job of it in the Haas and still scored decent points for the American team. His pace was better than that of his established teammate and for me it was certainly an overlooked drive, especially considering the relative performance of that car.
Fernando Alonso – Its almost cliché but it was another great drive from Alonso. McLaren’s first points of the season could have been so much more had the Honda engine had more power – Alonso was sat in fourth at one point. Considering the performance of Vandoorne, Alonso certainly outdrove the car (again) and put it in a position where he deserved to be but where the car did not.