Baku was lauded as F1’s trickiest track and akin to legendary Macau circuit, but ultimately failed to deliver.
We thought we were in for a classic GP after incident-filled practice and qualifying session, however the 2016 Europe GP was one of the most boring races of the season.
The two GP2 races got everyone excited for the main spectacle (one of the drivers was handed a ban for Austria, FYI) as the circuit proved itself to be unforgiving in the face of any mistakes.
However, we’re watching the best drivers in the world, and nearly no one put a foot wrong. In fact, all of them seemed to be playing it safe and staying well clear of the limits of the car.
Only Rio Haryanto had an incident at the start, otherwise most got away cleanly. Mass, Kvyat, Bottas, Hulkenberg and Gutierrez all lost out by one or two places, but other than Rosberg no one got off to a flying start.
Rosberg sailed off into the distance and quickly built up a gap, not to be seen again until the podium ceremony.
Red Bull made some strange strategy choices, switching to mediums in their second stop due to high degradation on the soft and supersoft tyres. They fell back through the field as they struggled, but once on the mediums they were able to recover and pass Nico Hulkenberg, who was on a different strategy to the rest of the field and was on the softest tyre at the end of the race. Once again, they were unable to capitalise on the advantage they had gained on Ferrari and the Mercedes of Hamilton in qualifying.
Hamilton quickly made his way up to sixth, but was twenty seconds down the road from the leader, Nico Rosberg. He then struggled with brake vibrations, and later a de-rating engine.
Both he and Kimi Raikkonen spent a lot of air time wailing down their team radio, desperate for help. However, due to the current radio ban that came into play in Belgium last year, teams are no longer allowed to ‘coach’ their drivers and tell them how to fix their issues unless there are safety issues, so both drivers were forced to try to figure it out on their own. Would there races have been different had the team told them what to do? Probably not, but the rule was introduced for a reason and ultimately hands more control back to the drivers.
Sebastian Vettel finished a strong second, but not before querying an early call from Ferrari to pit that ultimately changed their strategy. Whether or not the strategy worked out is anyone’s guess- they were moving to cover Ricciardo who then struggled in his second stint.
When Vettel did pit, he was behind teammate Raikkonen who moved to let him by. Raikkonen had a five second penalty looming over his head, and it looked as though he would finish in the final podium spot, but would lose it once the penalty was applied post-race. However Perez caught him and sailed past to take the podium proper, his second of the season.
Toro Rosso retired both cars with suspension issues, without either car making contact with fellow drivers or walls. Fernando Alonso’s gearbox had him stuck in 4th, forcing him to peel off into the pits.
A plastic bag brought some tension to proceedings as it wound itself around Sebastian Vettel’s car before becoming lodged in Kimi Raikkonen’s front wing. The only loose bit of carbon fibre came from the front wing of Romain Grosjean in a Turn 1 clash (overstatement of the year) with Nico Hulkenberg.
You could count the number of yellow flags on one hand. Not even a whiff of a safety car!
Anticlimactic doesn’t begin to cover it.
2016 Europe GP results
- Nico Rosberg MERCEDES
- Sebastian Vettel FERRARI
- Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA
- Kimi Raikkonen FERRARI
- Lewi Hamilton MERCEDES
- Valtteri Bottas WILLIAMS
- Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL
- Max Verstappen RED BULL
- Nico Hulkenberg FORCE INDIA
- Felipe Massa WILLIAMS
- Jenson Button MCLAREN
- Felipe Nasr SAUBER
- Romain Grosjean HAAS
- Kevin Magnussen RENAULT
- Jolyon Palmer RENAULT
- Esteban Guttierez HAAS
- Marcus Ericsson SAUBER
- Rio Haryanto MANOR
DNF: Fernando Alonso (MCLAREN); Pascal Wehrlein (MANOR); Carlos Sainz (TORO ROSSO); Danill Kvyat (TORO ROSSO).
Current Drivers’ Standings
Carlos Sainz Jr