The Azerbaijan Grand Prix delivered on its promise to be an exciting race, packed full of action, drama, controversy and carbon fibre. Chris Fawcett gives you the low down with the Top 5 from Baku.

I miss Martin Brundle, so does Pete the camera man

The grid walk on the build up to the race is always a highlight. You never know what celebrity you’ll see or which D-lister will pine for a share of limelight.

While the likes of Christina Aguilara use the opportunity to look as “cool” as possible without talking to anyone (because that would be below them) Martin Brundle uses this time to run around like a headless chicken trying to get an insight into a driver’s state of mind minutes before lights out. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Without him there Simon Lazenby and Paul di Resta tag-teamed, and while I think they’re both great at their job, it wasn’t the same, and drivers appeared less willing to share their final few moments. In short, it felt a bit of a struggle.

From a chat with Jay Kay, who didn’t offer up anything of value, to a poorly-timed interruption of Daniel Ricciardo with a race engineer resulting in Simon being threatened with a punch to the stomach, it lacked the impact of a normal grid walk.

But never mind the viewer being left short-changed, spare a thought for Pete the camera man. It’s all well and good to have two presenters on the scavenger hunt for an interview, but when they’re at opposite ends of the pit lane, it makes things tricky for the poor sod filming them. He must have ran the length of the entire circuit keeping up with them. Good job Pete.

Forget Monaco, we have Baku now

I’m going to say what I think a lot of people may be afraid to admit, why do we still have Monaco when other street tracks offer up much better racing? We’ve not even had this year’s instalment of “follow the leader” but I can almost guarantee it’ll be just that: a procession with princes in attendance.

Photo: Andy Hone/McLaren

I’m all in favour of the casual viewer still believing Formula One is about glitz and glamour, but the fact is, to sustain viewers over the long-term you need action on the track and my oh my, Baku gave us plenty of that, as it did last year too.

I know money is the reason behind it, coupled with the sense of tradition, but I feel that the sport may have outgrown the streets of Monaco and if Liberty want to really shake things up, give us something new. We’ve just watched racing around a county that many people can’t spell, but that doesn’t matter because it was exciting, it looked fabulous and over everything else was engaging television.

We’ve been to Baku since 2016, and in the words of Meat Loaf, “2 out of 3 aint bad”. Let’s have something new and exciting to cheer more often. This Grand Prix is a real success, lets flaunt it.

How tired did Kimi Raikkonen look after the race?

This is a quick point, and one that’s worth rewinding to find. When Kimi took his helmet off and was interviewed by David Coulthard (before the podium?!) he looked absolutely exhausted. The bags under his eyes were of epic proportions.

You don’t hear much about his night-time activities anymore, but maybe the reinvigorated Finn has found his feet not only only the track but the dance floors around the world.

Get some sleep Kimi, you’re in superb form this year and we all want to see you at the sharp end.

Image: Ferrari Media

New helmet design for Romain Grosjean

I absolutely love a Romain Grosjean radio meltdown, but we were treated to much more than that in Baku: A heated radio conversation followed by a crash under the safety car followed by the most surprising of all – a lie. They say these things come in threes!

https://twitter.com/F1/status/990621339445739525

I’m not in favour of shunning drivers, they do a fantastic job with the material they’ve been given, but I do find it perplexing and inexcusable that someone in a high profile, televised job can come out with ANY excuse at all except to blame himself so often.

Of course it is embarrassing to bin the car into a barrier under a safety car, but to then blame a driver who was near enough 20m behind you because you cant take the shame is ridiculous.

“I think Ericsson hit me”…nope, he did not and instead of throwing your gloves away in a temper next time, throw your helmet away, because you no longer need it, it wont fit…

Think I’m joking? Just ask Pinocchio what happened to him when he told porkies.

The real battle between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel

Although the result didn’t tell the true story of the race, on reflection it’s safe to say that in terms of the championship standings, Lewis Hamilton has truly brought the fight to Vettel.

But regardless of points and finishing positions so far this year, the action on the track has paled in comparison to the action under the caps. It mirrors the race results to an extent too. Sebastian brought his A-game at the start of the season with a “new-do” which I personally ridiculed, maybe I shouldn’t have because it brought tremendous luck in the opening rounds. Lewis was left scratching his, erm, head at what he could possibly do until he had a eureka moment.

When he turned up to Baku with corn rows, completing his transformation from hardened racer to chart-topping boyband singer I knew it was game on. Although he wasn’t as his best in Azerbaijan the 25 points came at a very good time for him.

The only possible conclusion I can draw from this, is that “he who holds the hair, holds the power”. Thus, 2018 will not be a war of technical excellence but one of barber-brilliance. Hold on to your seats because you might see Christian Horner demanding not only an apology from his drivers but also mandatory mohicans.

 

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