Another one-two finish for Mercedes as Valtteri Bottas led home Lewis Hamilton: the order in which they started the race. The top four all used similar one-stop strategies, starting on the soft tyre and then switching to the medium. The highest-placed driver to run an alternative strategy was Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who finished fifth from eighth on the grid, after running a long first stint on the medium before switching to the soft.
- Unusually for Baku, there was only one virtual safety car and comparatively few incidents: this meant that there wasn’t the usual drama often seen in Azerbaijan.
- Most drivers started on the soft tyre and switched quite early to the medium tyre, which showed a good level of pace and durability throughout the race.
- There were some interesting alternative strategies: Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly was one of three drivers to start from the pit lane, on the medium tyre. He did 38 laps on this compound and got to sixth before retiring, bringing out the virtual safety car.
- Some drivers stopped twice: Leclerc made a late stop for another set of soft tyres to score the point for fastest lap, with McLaren’s Lando Norris also stopping twice en route to eighth at the flag.
- Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen was another driver to start from the pit lane but scored a point in 10th with a soft-medium strategy, completing 44 laps on the harder compound.
HOW EACH TYRE PERFORMED
- HARD C2: This was not used at all during the race, as wear and degradation was sufficiently low to make the medium and soft tyres the best choice in Baku. The hard was not used extensively in free practice either, so teams were lacking data on it.
- MEDIUM C3: Used for the most part of the grand prix, proving to have a good balance between performance and durability that made it the optimal race tyre. As a result, some very long stints were seen on this compound with impressive consistency.
- SOFT C4: Used to set fastest lap right at the end of the race by Leclerc. Most drivers started on this compound but preferred the durability of the medium for the bulk of the race. As Leclerc missed Q3, he had some available new soft tyres to go for the fastest lap point, which he achieved by a full second: setting the new race lap record in Baku.
MARIO ISOLA - HEAD OF F1 AND CAR RACING
“It was quite a tricky build-up to the race, with FP1 largely cancelled, two red flags in FP2, then an interrupted qualifying with cool weather conditions subsequently. This made it reasonably hard to have an accurate read on the expected tyre behaviour for the weekend, with track temperatures today slightly warmer than they had been previously. It was clear though that there would be quite a wide pit stop window, and in fact we saw a few variations on strategy: including a late pit stop from Charles Leclerc to take the fastest lap point. Once again, we’ve seen the impact of this new rule for 2019: Leclerc exploited it well here, while the championship leader is currently in front by just one point.”