After what was effectively an uncommon ‘spring break’ in the Formula 1 World Championship proceedings, we are finally back to racing, in Baku this weekend.
However, the almost one-month pause in the action did not involve an embargo on work and development. This, together with the new Sprint format, leaves me with an unusual sense of excitement leading up to the Azerbaijan Grand Prix!
Nothing against the Country or the City, but this Grand Prix normally leaves me cold. I’m no real fan of Street Circuits, in particular one that pretty much just goes left around buildings. On top of that, it’s a drag race in all senses of the motor racing world, which means the outcome, barring divine or Stewards intervention, is largely predictable.
Red Bull… again in Baku
Despite the under managers for aero development working under the whip, 24/7 in the stygian bowls of various team headquarters, all their sweat and tears will probably be in vain. Here in Baku, the Aziri Capital, it is unlikely that Red Bull will be troubled by anything more than their own drivetrain.
However, there may be a change in the rest of the grid order. Mercedes, via George Russell, is talking a big game, but I don’t expect much from them until they produce their W19 (Mercedes’s own version of the RB19) in Imola. Unless they have found a tweak to shut down their floor aero whilst on the straights, the draggy W14 will struggle.
Fernando Alonso and Taylor Swift???
It seems the Liberty Twatter bots are at it again, filling the void of no real F1 news earlier in the week with suggestions that Fernando and the aforementioned lady are in an amorous liaison. No doubt, the darling of America was seen as an ideal candidate by Liberty’s media AI for a swipe right with the Spanish maestro based on…?
Apparently, based on the fact they had both recently broken up with their previous partners. Oh, and of course, it’s the Miami Grand Prix in two weeks. This fanciful coupling is about as likely as Sergio Perez beating Max Verstappen to the Drivers’ Championship this year. However, we should not let the blatantly obvious get in the way of a good story.
Attention, Alonso, Aston and Baku
Back to the racing, in Baku, and with no telegraphed updates for the AMR23, I can’t help but wonder if Aston Martin are keeping the powder dry. All those long straight lines on the circuit should work well for their “not a copy of the RB18”, especially when piloted by a resurgent Alonso!
Perez seems to have a penchant for public road configurations so we can anticipate a robust performance from him here. As for Max, well, he will just do what he normally does; win and complain about the proliferation of the Sprint Race format.
However, in the unlikely event of a Red Bull meltdown, Baku could be where Aston Martin comes in, and Alonso secures that elusive come-back win. Hell, he may even drag Lance Stroll behind him to deliver their first one–two. Never let low odds get in the way of a dream.
There must be plenty of these (or its Italian equivalent) flying around Maranello and amongst the Tifosi at the moment. This ever-flexible word of British profanity has become ubiquitous around the world when someone needs to express: frustration, disbelief, surprise, annoyance, disappointment and happiness. Although at Maranello I don’t think it was being used for the latter.
Their start to the season has been less than auspicious, and in the spirit of kicking a team when they’re down, they received another blow. The planned appeal against Carlos Sainz’s Melbourne penalty appeal was binned by the FIA. Niente punti. The reason: there was no new evidence to consider.
Do the referees need glasses?
No one apart from the Stewards thought the call was correct – even Sainz’s victim! So, why was their take on it diametrically opposed to everyone else’s? Apparently, they saw something in the data. This begs the question as to what exactly that something was that convinced them Sainz was guilty? Why keep it a secret?
The open letter published by Ferrari post the FIA’s decision not to review was clear. They respected it (sort off), on account of the FIA being F1’s governing body and all. However, going forward, they were equally clear that discussions were required regarding how F1 was policed.
Reading between the lines, competency to understand data might be one of the issues. Meanwhile, if you want an inkling as to how things will go for Ferrari in Baku this weekend? My only possible is obviously: F@ck knows?