Max Verstappen is the radiant winner - once again. Because Ferrari is fast, but has far too many breakdowns. So the world champion is on course to defend his title. Sebastian Vettel also knows how to use the double Scuderia failure. Only Mick Schumacher continues to suffer.
Badly beaten, the Ferrari mechanics packed up their equipment during the race. The double failure of Baku throws the Scuderia even further back in the title race. Charles Leclerc last qualified four times in a row from first place on the grid. However, what then happens with unsightly regularity is unworthy of a team with the ambitions and possibilities of Ferrari. Alongside the Red Bull, the car is by far the fastest in the field. Technical breakdowns and strategic mistakes have already cost the Italians far too many points, in Baku Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were over due to defects before the halfway point of the race. "It's a huge disappointment," said the Monegasque about his engine failure. "I hope we can fight back and get things sorted out," added the 24-year-old. Team boss Mattia Binotto promised an in-depth analysis of the problems. If the turnaround does not succeed quickly, Ferrari threatens the next season without a title, despite what is probably the strongest car in the field. However, there is hardly any time for troubleshooting: Points are at stake again this coming weekend in Canada.
With his 25th Grand Prix victory, Verstappen has now won as many times in Formula 1 as legends Niki Lauda and Jim Clark. "Well, we now have more races a year. But it's nice for the books," said the 24-year-old. Verstappen is now at the top in another statistic: no other Red Bull driver has been on the podium more often than the Dutchman. For the 66th time, the defending champion was allowed onto the podium. In doing so, he ousted Sebastian Vettel from first place in this ranking. During his time at Red Bull, the Hessian made it onto the podium 65 times.
And what a change: last year Max Verstappen kicked a burst rear tire in a rage, this time the world champion beheaded the champagne. For the first time he even reached the podium in his fear race in Azerbaijan. The world championship lead, which he significantly expanded thanks to the failure of his Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc, was only one reason why Verstappen was the big winner from Baku. The form of his Mexican team-mate Sergio Perez had recently raised questions as to whether the Dutchman had to fear for his number one status. On Sunday it became clear: He doesn't have to. Perez gave his lead to Verstappen without a fight on lap 15. His fifth win of the season was never in danger afterwards. A good team structure, but also the reliability of the car are currently Verstappen's big trump card in the duel with Leclerc.
The debate about the sometimes restless bouncing vehicles has been smoldering in Formula 1 for months. It was particularly bad in Baku. In particular, record champion Lewis Hamilton suffered visibly from the constant blows in the cockpit. He struggled out of his Mercedes in great pain, repeatedly holding his injured back and walking stiffly. "In the end you just pray that it's over," Hamilton said afterwards. The bouncing, i.e. the hopping of the vehicle, affects the health of the driver. The reason is the new set of rules for the cars, which are pressed onto the ground on the straights until they briefly touch the asphalt and are then pushed up again. "The drivers put their heads together and all but one said it was a problem," said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff. Concerned about their health, the pilots could soon push for a rule reform. However, a quick solution to the problem is not in sight.
Mick Schumacher left the race track again in frustration. Yes, he drove an accident-free race on the street circuit and no, much more than 14th place was probably not possible after the last place in qualifying. Again it was nothing with his first championship points. The tone between the 23-year-old and the top team has recently tightened significantly. Schumacher complained several times about strategic mistakes. Team boss Günther Steiner referred to the young star's series of accidents and counted him out publicly. At the same time, the Italian complained about the unrest surrounding the racing team - also due to a "split from the outside", especially by the media. "I need Mick, Mick needs us, together we can be strong," Steiner warned, but didn't really back him up. Upgrades on the Haas car are not to be expected in Canada. The first World Cup counter for Schumacher is not more likely. Tensions are likely to remain.
The four-time world champion impressed on and off the track at the Caspian Sea. In interviews and self-chosen campaigns, Vettel took a stance on socially and politically relevant issues, pointing out grievances and using his reach in a positive way. He did a lot on the track. Sixth place was also due to the retirement of both Ferraris, but this did not detract from the best result of the season so far.