F1’s 2022 Azerbaijan GP is finally in our rear-view mirrors and it’s safe to say that the event hasn’t produced as much drama as its previous iterations. Despite the anticipation of several crashes, safety cars and stoppages, the race produced only two virtual safety car periods. While Ferrari’s two retirements certainly drew some gasps from fans and the paddock, the rest of the race looked pretty straightforward.
Max Verstappen took advantage of Charles Leclerc’s retirement to claim his fifth win of the season. Sergio Perez followed the reigning world champion to the finish line and secured Red Bull’s second double of 2022. George Russell secured another podium finish for Mercedes after benefiting from Ferrari’s double DNF.
So here’s what we learned from the Azerbaijan GP.
5 things we learned from the 2022 Azerbaijan GP?
#1 Sergio Perez is no competitor for Max Verstappen
Many F1 pundits were excited for Sergio Perez to take his maiden win in Monaco and beat Max Verstappen to qualify for back-to-back races, however, on race day in Baku it was painfully clear that the Mexican had no answer for his teammate’s pace.
Verstappen has always been the faster of the two Red Bull drivers. While Perez has done a fantastic job of bridging the gap between the two this year, he’s still a bit slower than the Dutchman, especially during races.
At the Azerbaijan GP, the 24-year-old world champion easily passed Perez and never looked back. In the final stages of the race he had a lead of around 20 seconds over Perez.
Although it would be better for the championship if Sergio Perez could maintain his solid form and regularly challenge both his team-mate and Leclerc, it looks like he will never really get the better of Verstappen.
#2 Ferrari unable to match Red Bull
Red Bull took 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 it weren’t for their reliability and strategic issues. The Maranello-based side are currently on a five-game losing streak.
The championship battle was evened after the first eight races. The reliability issues that first plagued Red Bull at the start of the season now appear to be affecting Ferrari. While the Austrian team came back strong and did not falter in any other department, Ferrari showed that when the pressure mounts, it falls apart. An example of this was the Monaco GP, where they pitted Leclerc against each other and lost the race lead.
The Italian team 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 no longer in contention for the title
The Azerbaijan GP marked the end of any hopes of a Mercedes title charge at the end of the season. The rebound issues the car suffers from are fundamental and although the team was able to sort out most of them in Barcelona, the surface was smoother and less bumpy than later tracks. With a fundamentally inferior car, the German team is doomed to struggle at select tracks on the F1 calendar.
Either way, while the next major upgrade at Silverstone is the last glimmer of hope for the team, it will be far behind in both championships to make an impact, even if the car becomes competitive. The team’s 1.3 second deficit in the Azerbaijan GP qualifying session showed they may have to give up hopes of becoming a title contender this year. Mercedes might have a chance for a win or two in 2022, but that’s the extent of success fans should probably expect from the team.
#4 Sebastian Vettel hit a purple spot at Aston Martin
Sebastian Vettel shines once again in Aston Martin. Some say he has returned to his old form. It definitely puts this car in places it shouldn’t be. In addition, he greatly surpasses his teammate. Sebastian Vettel sometimes had half a second on Lance Stroll this season. While Stroll may not be world championship material, he is certainly a capable rider. The young driver has scored numerous podiums and a pole position in his career. It only goes to show that the four-time world champion is a man on a mission this season. He expressed the fact that his continuation in the sport after 2022 depends on whether he has a car that can fight further down the field.
#5 Rebounding is a serious problem, but the paddock is divided
The Azerbaijan GP was probably one of the toughest races on the calendar for the drivers of these cars due to the relentless twists they went through on the long straight. Cars bounced hard throughout the Azerbaijan GP and the end of the race saw Lewis Hamilton struggle to get out of his car after complaining of back pain during the event.
While drivers like George Russell and Carlos Sainz have talked about the health effects of porpoising on drivers, other drivers like Charles Leclerc have said they don’t mind it that much. Although rebounding is certainly an issue, as was seen in the Azerbaijan GP, most teams, like Red Bull, feel that changes should be applied at team level rather than requiring a change. of regulation. The argument is that teams can easily fix the bounce by compromising performance and increasing the ride height of the cars.
Mercedes, the team that suffers the most due to its extremely low ride height, has come out in favor of changing the regulations, while Red Bull, arguably the only car that controls its porpoising, is against it. such a change.
It will be interesting to see how things play out over the course of the season. Catch the next F1 at the Canadian GP on June 19, 2022.