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Race analysis GP Azerbaijan 2019: The mistakes of the Mercedes opponents

Race analysis GP Azerbaijan 2019
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How did Ferrari and Red Bull shoot themselves in the knee?

M ercedes is currently not making any mistakes. The competition for it all the more. Charles Leclerc would have easily taken pole position if he hadn't had the accident on the second qualifying lap. The strategists had sent the two Scuderia drivers completely unnecessarily on the hunt for times with the slippery medium tires. Sebastian Vettel was just able to intercept his car in the tight turn 8, his team mate was not so lucky.

The Leclerc crash delayed qualification by almost half an hour. The later the evening, the cooler it got. And with the lower temperatures, Mercedes coped much better. In order to really rob Vettel of any pole chance, he was sent out in the finals as the first pilot with no possibility of slipstream. The advantage of the free run from the front row was ultimately decisive for the fourth Mercedes double victory in a row.

Red Bull also wasted the chance to put more pressure on Mercedes with unnecessary mistakes. Pierre Gasly ignored the request to turn to the FIA ​​scales in free practice. In the end it didn't matter. During the slipstream battle in qualifying, the Honda engine turned into the limiter, which in turn made the gasoline sensor vibrate. Values ​​above the maximum permitted injection quantity were measured. Both offenses would also result in a start from the pit lane individually.

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Verstappen lost in the first stint behind Perez too much time. In the end, he was slowed down by the command post.

In the race, things went really well for Gasly at first: “I think we'll be the faster Car than Ferrari had, given the pace of Pierre versus Leclercconsidered. He would have easily finished sixth from the pit lane ”, analyzed team principal Christian Horner. But a broken drive shaft ended the Frenchman's great race to catch up on lap 39.

The defect and the associated virtual safety car phase also damaged Max Verstappen in the second Red Bull. “After Max had a lot of time at the start lost behind Perez, he really turned it up in the second stint. In a short time he caught up with the cars in front of him ten seconds. Unfortunately, the tires didn't want to get up to temperature right away when restarting. And for fear of further damage we told him to slow down, ”Horner revealed. Verstappen, for example, had to bypass the curbs at Turn 16.

Were the Mercedes drivers allowed to fight freely?

Gasly and Leclerc had already taken off the fight for victory before the race. Verstappen robbed himself of all chances with a bad start. And Sebastian Vettel lost a lot of time on the Mercedes in the first stint with cold soft tires. So the Silver Arrows train left alone at the head. Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas made the victory among themselves. But it only got exciting at the start and in the final laps. Team boss Toto Wolff didn't want to know anything about the stable management: “We let our pilots drive freely because we trust them. The fight on the opening lap over several corners also showed that there is great respect for one another. ”

In the middle part of the race, however, both drivers were asked to protect the tires and think long-term. 'We told them that in the end they could fight each other again freely, which we then allowed,' said Wolff. Hamilton put a lot of pressure on, but never got close enough in the last sector to risk an attack with DRS and slipstream on the straight. 'Valtteri simply didn't make a mistake,' Hamilton praised his teammate.

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The two Mercedes drivers fought a tough wheel-to-wheel duel on the first lap the better end for Bottas.

Why wasn't Verstappen chasing the fastest lap?

CharlesAfter Bahrain, Leclerc secured the extra point for the fastest race lap for the second time this season. Four laps before the end, Ferrari called the Monegasse into the pits to go on a chase for times with fresh soft tires and little fuel in the tank. The plan worked easily. Leclerc's fastest race lap was more than a second below the target set by Bottas shortly before.

The Leclerc pit stop also gave Verstappen a buffer to the rear that would have made another tire change possible without losing space . But in contrast to Leclerc, the Dutchman's range did not include any fresh C4 tires. “In addition, after the problem with Gasly we didn't want to do another lap at the limit and risk twelve points,” Horner explained.

Why did the medium tires work so well?

Because they warm up more quickly, many experts saw the soft tires have an advantage over the medium variety before the race. But then Gasly and Leclerc set off in the first stint on the medium-hard mix like the fire department. “In the third practice session, the soft tire was only used at the end, when the track was significantly better than at the beginning of the session. That falsified the image to the detriment of the medium, ”explained Pirelli sports director Mario Isola.

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On Nico Hülkenberg's Renault, neither the soft nor the medium tires worked really well.

The main problem with the red marked rubbers was their tendency to grain. The cool conditions ensured that the running surface rubbed off extremely quickly. This meant that the grip advantage was short-lived. “We had hoped that the warmer temperatures on Sunday would improve a little. But then the drop came relatively quickly in the first stint, ”explained the Mercedes engineers. But nobody had to be afraid of an undercut. The medium tires were consistent and fast, but they needed a lap to warm up. Therefore, Vettel could not endanger the Silver Arrows with his earlier stop.

Why did the Norris tactic not work?

McLarenmade it into the points in Baku for the first time this season with both cars. But Lando Norris was not entirely satisfied with the internal team order. Due to the extra pit stop in the VSC phase on lap 39, the rookie involuntarily surrendered his seventh place to his colleague Carlos Sainz. The McLaren strategists hoped to get close to Sergio Perez's Racing Point with the tactical coup.

Because the competition on the track was slow, Norris saved ten seconds compared to stopping at a free one Journey. But the advantage of fresh tires quickly fizzled out. Norris even lost one place in the end due to the risk tactic. “I'm not mad at the decision. I'm just annoyed that it didn't work out as planned. Maybe it would have been better to go to Medium. But afterwards you are always smarter. “

Why did Ricciardo and Kvyat collide?

Daniel Ricciardo was a bit cocky in the duel with Daniil Kvyat on lap 30. While attacking at Turn 3, the Australian passed the Toro Rosso, but exceeded the braking point. The Renault slid into the run-off zone and took the opposing car with it. While maneuvering, Ricciardo crashed backwards into his Russian opponent.

The race management did not find the slapstick insert so funny and said he was relocating three starting positions for the next race in Barcelona. In addition, it set three penalty points for the list of sinners. Ricciardo was then remorseful: “That was kind of a strange situation. But it was clearly my mistake and I apologize to the team and Daniil for that. I didn't think clearly for two seconds and attacked prematurely. I have to take that on my head. The team deserved more. ”


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