Azerbaijan Grand Prix: Team and driver reports

Teams and drivers report from the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Round 8 of the 2017 Formula 1 World Championship, at the Baku City Circuit.

Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo, 1st: “I have never really had a boring win and today was certainly not that. After all the chaos and the red flag I felt that a podium was in reach but then once Lewis had to pit and Seb had the penalty I knew the win was possible. I kind of said yesterday that after my qualifying mistake and starting in tenth place, today was going to be a race of no mistakes, capitalising on moments and opportunities and I felt like we did everything we could this afternoon. The odds of a podium or win got pushed even further back when we had to make an unscheduled pit stop early in the race and I think I was back in seventeenth place. Then things fell in to place quite nicely and on every re-start I was able to make up positions and make it happen. The last re-start was the most important and I think it was Stroll, Hulkenberg, Massa and me, all nearly four wide but I managed to get third and I think that was, in a way, the winning move. Once I saw the gap I was going to do everything I could to brake as late as possible and get that position. It was a real shame for Max today but it is great to get this victory for everyone in the team. I felt like this weekend was better for us overall and hopefully both of us can be on the podium together soon. What a day, it’s crazy and it’s slowly sinking in.”

Max Verstappen, DNF: “After what looked like a promising position at the beginning of the race I was gutted to be let down once again by a technical problem. After an action packed race we were confident we could have had at least a podium here in Baku, so I am very disappointed with this outcome.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal: “Certainly an action packed grand prix, and an unbelievable afternoon. It started with a bit of chaos with Daniel picking up some debris after the incident between Kimi and Valtteri that got stuck in his brake ducts, we had to pit him very early to get rid of that debris and it looked like he was out of the race at that point. At the time, Max was in a really strong position harrying for P3 and looked like he great pace in the car. Unfortunately a sudden failure in the engine eliminated Max from the race which is hugely frustrating. From then on we kept our focus with Daniel and he was coming back through the order with great passing moves and restarts. The team had a handle on the strategy and following the red flag he had another great start with a brilliant pass on both Williams. We had a little bit of luck with the penalties for Lewis and Sebastian and it gave us our first victory of 2017. An unbelievable tale of two halves today but fantastic for the team to score its 53rd grand prix victory.”


Valtteri Bottas, 2nd: “Today was a crazy race, especially for me. I had a puncture on the first lap after the contact with Kimi on Lap 1. I was a lap down, then had to overtake the field under the Safety Car. The second Safety Car after that really helped me out and, step by step, I moved forward from there. My main goal today was to fight for the win but that went out of the window after the first lap. I was actually last at one point, but I got my head down, gave it absolutely everything and tried to get the absolute maximum out of every single corner. We didn’t quite manage to win but P2 from where we were is a great feeling. Importantly for the team, we scored more points in the fight with Ferrari and I got some good points for myself as well.”

Lewis Hamilton, 5th: “It’s difficult to swallow a result like this after a strong weekend. I drove my heart out today right to the line – I gave it everything. I know the team will be devastated about the issue with the headrest, but what we have to take away from this weekend is the great performance we have shown. We all feel that pain, but it’s on me to gather my thoughts and try and lead the team through this adversity. We’ll pull together and move forwards. I’m proud of my performance and I hope we can take the speed we’ve shown this weekend forward. I definitely didn’t brake-test Sebastian. I controlled the pace under the Safety Car and, just like with the other restarts, I slowed down in the same place on the entry to T15. At that point, it is up to me to control the pace and then I felt a bump from behind. But that wasn’t the issue for me – everybody saw clearly what happened after. All the young kids in other series look up to us, as champions, to set an example and that is not the behaviour you expect to see from a multiple champion. But we know that when times get tough, true colours show, and we have managed to apply some good pressure in the last weeks. Personally, I want to do my talking on the track and win this championship in the right way. More than ever after this weekend, I believe we can.”

Toto Wolff, Team Principal: “When the winner was at one point in P17, and the guy in second was a lap down and last after lap two, then you know it’s been a crazy day! Our big picture from today is that we extended our lead in the constructors’ championship by 16 points and confirmed we have a very fast race car. But that isn’t what people will remember. For Lewis, it was a really eventful race. With the Vettel incident, I think the FIA has made its decision during the race and we can’t rewind the race now. Emotions cook high in the moment but it doesn’t change the relationship between our two teams. Then he was leading after the red flag when we had the problem with the headrest and had to change it; that cost him the win but we need to investigate what exactly happened there. It is never about blame; we look at the process to see what we can improve, then go to the next race better and stronger, and this is what we will do again as a team. But we should be encouraged with the pace Lewis had. As for Valtteri, it just goes to show you can never give up. He did a sensational job from a lap down and it was the perfect finale to steal P2 on the line. But nevertheless it could have been P1 and P3 today, so we need to learn our lessons and keep pushing for the next race in Austria.”

James Allison, Technical Director: “It was a bittersweet race, more sweet than bitter on balance given how much worse it could have been, but it hurts to cost ourselves the win because of a detail like a loose headrest. Taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture, both cars were fast and had the pace to convert the promise of their qualifying positions – and in the end we still brought home a useful haul of championship points. But we now can’t wait to get back out on track in a fortnight’s time in order to chase the full reward that the car’s pure performance deserved this weekend.”


Lance Stroll, 2nd: “I’m just lost for words right now. It was such a hectic race and so much happened, but the team kept me cool on the radio, the pace was good, we took it to the end and stayed out of trouble. I can’t quite believe what’s just happened. We just lost out to Valtteri at the end there in one of the closest finishes of all time going side-by-side across the finish line. Coming into this weekend I never thought I would be standing on the podium. It’s an amazing feeling and, for me, a dream come true. However, what happened today was a team effort and I can’t thank everyone enough for making this happen. I am just so sorry that I could not celebrate with Felipe, as that would have been the icing on the cake. I am sure without his problems he would have been up there with me.”

Felipe Massa, DNF: “I’m so disappointed about the result today. The race was going perfectly. I was overtaking cars and I had really good pace. On the restart the car just started shaking on the straight and I didn’t have the speed, other cars were passing me so easily. I also couldn’t do the corners because it was shaking so badly. Today we had the opportunity to have both cars on the podium, and maybe even a victory. I do want to say a massive congratulations to Lance. I’m so happy for him getting his first ever podium in Formula One.”

Paddy Lowe, Chief Technical Officer: “Who would have expected that podium at the beginning of today? It’s a terrific result for Lance to become the youngest rookie in history to score a podium. He’s had a brilliant weekend. He’s been faultless in every session, he’s stayed out of trouble, didn’t have any incidents and that carried into the race. He kept it clean, had good pace and managed the car and the tyres well. It was good battle at the end and we were very unfortunate to lose second place. The critical moment was that Valtteri got DRS on the last lap, that lost Lance second place. But we’re very happy with third. However, the day was far from perfect. We got both cars in under the early safety car, and the red flag set us up well for what looked like a double podium, as we predicted there would be fallout from the Hamilton and Vettel incident. So we were feeling good at the red flag. But, Felipe had an internal suspension failure that emerged just after, which I’m very upset about. Without that issue we really believe that Felipe could have won the race today and we could even have had a double podium. Felipe’s had a fantastic season so far and he’s been a great support to Lance, so it’s a shame that he can’t celebrate with us today. But, we’ll build on this and come back stronger next time.”


Sebastian Vettel: “First of all, I think that today the car was very good. The pace was strong in the race. I think you could see that we were losing a bit here and there, but overall it was a good race. It was a very busy start, and Vallteri was very aggressive. As for what happened at the restart from the safety car, I don’t know why I got the penalty and Lewis didn’t. It’s disappointing, because it could have been a better result. I don’t have a problem with Lewis but I just think that what he did on the track was not ok. By now the decision is done but, in an episode like this one, I still think that if you give out a penalty, then it should be to both drivers.”

Kimi Raikkonen: “Today many things happened that were out of our hands and unfortunately we paid a big price. After the start, at the second corner, I got hit by Bottas; I don’t know what he was doing, he braked very early but probably he noticed that and let the brakes off, went too fast and hit me. Because of that the rear end of my car hit the wall and I had a massive damage. We were able to keep going but then I was unlucky. The two Force Indias collided, some debris flew off and destroyed my rear tire. As a consequence my whole floor and the rear wing were damaged and we decided to retire. When the red flag stopped the race we thought that we might try and go back on track. The mechanics did and amazing job, managed to change the floor and the endplate in a very short time. But obviously my car was still not perfect and we decided to stop. It’s not a good day when your car retires twice in a race. I’m disappointed because, without all these things happening, my car would have been good. There’s nothing else we could have done, we tried our best.”

Maurizio Arrivabene: “I think that everything that happened today was clear to see for everyone, starting with the incident on the opening lap, with Kimi pushed into the barrier, then what happened to Sebastian on the restart lap after the Safety Car. We don’t want to get into an argument but I think I can say that some decisions that were not entirely clear, never worked in favour of our team. We fought hard even if the results don’t show it. Today, our car was on the pace and that was clear to see. The team demonstrated its strengths, from changing the engine on Seb’s car on Saturday to the work done on Kimi’s when the race was red flagged, to get it back out on track, despite the damage it had suffered. That’s Ferrari for you. We let our actions speak for us. We will continue in that vein immediately, in preparation for the remaining twelve races starting with the Austrian GP, with even more determination than before.”

Force India

Esteban Ocon, 6th: “It’s hard to sum up your feelings after such a busy race. I’m happy with our performance and also disappointed not to realise the potential we had today. It’s never nice to have an incident with your teammate and it was costly for both of us – we both lost a lot of time and positions. Fortunately I could recover, overtake a lot of cars and score some important points for the team. We will discuss things internally and see what happened, but when you are racing close to each other at a restart these things can happen sometimes. Sergio was very deep into turn one at the restart and I went on his inside. He squeezed me between turns one and two, and I was on the inside going into turn two. He was trying to resist on the outside of the corner and we touched. We need to review it together and understand more. For sure it should not happen again in the future.”

Sergio Perez, DNF: “It’s a shame to retire from a race like this because I think we would have been in a position to win the race. The team did a great job all weekend and deserved much more than to have a race ruined in these circumstances. I couldn’t do anything to avoid the accident and it’s particularly bad for our team because it ruined the races of both of us on a day in which other teams have scored big points. We will need to discuss the situation within the team and make sure something like this does not happen again. As drivers, we are just part of a much bigger team and we have a responsibility to do our best to bring home a good result, especially considering what would have been possible today. Before the incident, it had been a great race and a strong weekend. My start was very good and I was fighting for second place on merit, but we were really unlucky at the Safety Car restart. Even after the crash, the team did a great job to get the car back together and allow me to resume the race. Even then, the seat broke and the team retired the car on safety grounds. It shows how unlucky this weekend turned out to be.”

Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal, “It was a race of what ifs and what might have been. We had a quick car today and had a good chance of finishing on the podium – perhaps with both cars. Sadly we lost out during a safety car restart, which led to Esteban and Sergio making contact on the exit of turn two. Both cars were damaged and it effectively ended Sergio’s afternoon. Esteban was able to stage an excellent recovery drive and was up in third place with just 13 laps to go. In the end the speed of the Ferraris and Mercedes proved too strong and he dropped to sixth, but it was important to pick up useful points. It was a shame to miss out on a podium from a race that saw so much drama, but that’s the nature of motor racing. We will discuss what happened internally and come back stronger in Austria in a couple of weeks’ time.”

Toro Rosso

Carlos Sainz, 8th: “What a crazy race! The start to it was already difficult: when I got to Turn 1 I saw Daniil rejoining the track and I had to quickly avoid crashing into him, which would’ve been a disaster for the team! I span, but it was a sacrifice I had to do. From then onwards, I kept calm, was very patient, and we recovered from last to eighth without making any mistakes. I have to say it was difficult to keep focused with so many things happening: Safety Cars, the red flag… And I can say I’m satisfied with today’s result in the end!”

Daniil Kvyat, DNF: “I watched the race with a very heavy heart because there was so much going on and I really wanted to be part of it! It’s extremely disappointing, because I think we could’ve scored good points today. Unfortunately, the car just shut itself off and let us down… Up until the race, the weekend had been perfect and I tried my best but, when things out of my control happen, I can’t do more. I will keep on fighting and working hard; I just need to do my job like I always do and not let days like this get me down.”

Franz Tost, Team Principal: “First of all, I’d like to congratulate Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull for the fantastic win! As for today’s race, Daniil started from P11 while Carlos, because of the three-place grid penalty from Canada, P15. Soon after the start, Daniil locked the front-left tyre under braking. Therefore, he had to go a little bit wider and when he rejoined the track he caused some troubles for Carlos, who spun and went back to last because of this. Daniil continued the race in twelfth and defended this position until he had to stop the car because of a complete electronic shutdown – we don’t know the exact reason for this yet. It’s a shame because Daniil could have scored good points. Carlos did a very good comeback, as he was able to overtake some rivals. The race was then red-flagged, which meant we could put on the supersoft tyres. When the race restarted, he overtook Alonso and he was catching Magnussen, finishing P8 in the end. The car performance in the race was quite good and, without starting from the back or if we hadn’t had the problem at the start, I think Carlos could’ve finished in P7. We knew from the beginning that both Canada and Azerbaijan are race tracks that are not in our favor but, nevertheless, we scored some points. Unfortunately, we’ve lost fifth position in the Constructors’ Championship to Williams. Now we have to fight back but I’m positive that, earlier or later, we will be back in that position. We now go to Austria, where we hope to be prepared as well as possible in order to finish with both cars in the points.”


Romain Grosjean, 12th: No post-race comments were made.

Kevin Magnussen, 7th: “It was a crazy race with all the Safety Car periods, the red flag – so many things happened. I stayed out of trouble and had a good balance in the car. The car’s been handling well all weekend – there’s just been some issues with brakes and just not being that competitive on this track and the layout not suiting us. To come away with a seventh-place finish is pretty good. We were in P3 at one point and I got a bit excited about that. I had some fun out there. It was a great afternoon.”

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal: “A very eventful race – a fantastic show all over the place. For us, it was a good result with seventh – our best finish this season. We’re very happy for Kevin to achieve this. Romain had a tough outing. I hope, in a few more races, we’ll forget about talking about brakes and just use them like everybody else. As a team we need to get on top of that, and we will. Then we can be consistently in the points with two cars. That’s our aim. If races are happening like this, with all the events going on, we want to be there to pick up the crumbs. Not a bad day for Haas F1 Team.”


Fernando Alonso, 9th: “Starting 19th because of our penalties, on one of our least competitive circuits, yet still scoring our first championship points is unreal; a complete surprise. The race really came to us through the many retirements and a lot of action. I managed to stay away from the walls, just brushing them here and there. Nevertheless, I think we could have fought for a podium finish today – and perhaps even the victory. We were behind Daniel Ricciardo during the first Safety Car period; then Lewis had a problem with his headrest and was forced to pit; Sebastian had a penalty; Kimi (briefly) retired; the two Force Indias touched each other, so we automatically found ourselves in a decent position. We missed out on further opportunities because we weren’t quick enough in the race and couldn’t hold on to that position. Still, we got our first two points of the season today, so let’s just take that.”

Stoffel Vandoorne, 12th: “I made a decent start – there was a lot of mayhem, a lot of debris – and I had to avoid a couple of slow cars on the run down to Turn Three, but I managed to keep my nose clean. Then the team did a great job to cover Romain Grosjean, I switched to the Option tyre and came out ahead of him. I had good pace on that tyre, but then the red flag came out and that took away my advantage as it meant everybody on the Prime could now get effectively a free tyre-change. After my final stop, I was catching the Saubers by 1.5s per lap, but once I’d caught them it was impossible to overtake. They were saving all their energy until the last corner; I was trying to do the same, in order to get the maximum boost available, but I just didn’t have the pace in the car to make it past them. Apart from that, our pace was strong today. It’s great for the team to score our first points of the season – we deserve it.”

Eric Boullier, McLaren-Honda Racing Director: “The two world championship points we scored this evening are a validation of all we’ve worked towards in Baku this week. Since practice started, I’ve said that we’d need to take advantage of every opportunity that came our way in the race, and we did just that today. Both drivers raced with their customary vigour, but were also wary about getting caught up in any unnecessary incidents. Fernando drove a fantastic race, taking advantage of every opportunity, and I don’t feel ninth position is really a fair reflection of his achievements today. Stoffel also posted an extremely mature drive, and, while he had the pace to close down on the two Saubers – and the chance of a point-scoring position – they were able to keep just out of reach along the long straight that offers the best passing opportunity around this tricky circuit. For the strategy team, the engineers and our hard-working mechanics, today’s points are a welcome relief after an extremely tough weekend. They’ll have put a spring in our step as we prepare for better fortunes at the next race in Austria.”

Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co. Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer: “Despite the chaotic sequence of the race with so many incidents including the red flag, I think it was a successful day for the team. The drivers both drove faultless races and kept out of trouble to cross the finish line, and to top it off Fernando took home our first points of the season. Fernando showed off his impressive skill throughout the race, overtaking several cars on his way to the top 10. Stoffel also pushed hard, and almost managed to join Fernando in the points but just missed out in finishing P12. In addition to the drivers’ skill behind the wheel, the team executed a brilliant strategy today, fully utilising every opportunity of Safety Cars and the red flag, so thank you to them. Although we still saw a big gap to the front-runners, it was a great result if we consider that we started from the back of the grid on what is a very power-hungry circuit where we had expected a challenging weekend. For the next round in Austria, we are scheduled to bring our updated Spec 3 PU for both cars following the successful test here in Azerbaijan. In the meantime, we will continue our development with our best efforts in order to continue closing the gap.”


Marcus Ericsson, 11th: “It was an entertaining race today – I had a really good start and first stint, overtaking a few cars and moving up to the midfield. It was looking good. Then a lot of things started happening with safety car phases and the red flag, which disrupted the race and challenged us to stay focused and committed. After the restart I settled in quite well but picked up some debris, damaging my right rear of the floor. I was having some trouble in my left-hand corners, and started struggling to keep up my pace. Pascal was behind me, with Stoffel (Vandoorne) behind him, who was closing up the gap to my team mate. I received the order to let Pascal pass so that we can protect the point for our team, so I did. In the end I see it as a good result for the team, but of course it was disappointing for me not to be in the car that scored considering that I was 10th for a substantial part of the race. However, I was able to play a defining role in scoring the point by keeping Stoffel from closing in during the final laps.”

Pascal Wehrlein, 10th: “I am happy with the 10th place. Making Q2 in qualifying yesterday, and scoring a point for the team today, has definitely been better than what we expected from this weekend. The race was defined by several interruptions, so we do have to stay realistic when it comes to our expectations for the next races. We have some improvements to make, and would not have been able to score under normal circumstances. Nonetheless, the 10th place is a great team effort. We gave all we had, and showed our dedication when it was most needed.”


Nico Hülkenberg, DNF: “It’s always a balance on a street course of getting as close as possible to the barriers but not too close. Unfortunately, I just clipped my front right and that was it for the suspension. It’s frustrating for me and all the team. Until then the race had been pretty engaging and it looked like we were in a position to continue our series of points scoring races. It was pretty tough on the restarts with the tyre temperature and I think everyone at home saw an eventful race. Next up Austria; let’s hope for better things there.”

Jolyon Palmer, DNF: “I experienced a misfire on the way to the grid; it got worse and ultimately the drivability was so poor that we had no choice but to retire the car. I made a decent start and then some overtakes into P15 so the start of my race was okay. It’s just been one of those weekends; I can’t remember ever having so few laps over a race weekend. My hope is to head to Austria with a reliable car so I can have a clean Grand Prix to show what I can do.”

Cyril Abiteboul, Managing Director: “On a day like today, a double DNF is the worst that can happen to the team both in terms of race results and in terms of championship position. We need to understand and immediately address the technical issues that prevented Jolyon to even participate, and Nico to start higher in the grid this weekend. We saw a highly unusual and eventful Grand Prix today and we will do all we can to make sure that this will be our only double DNF of the season. The only positive note is that a Red Bull Racing car finished on the highest step of the podium, which, on a track like Baku, is a great reward to the efforts made in bringing extra power to our customers.”