It was a tale of two differing stories for the Mercedes’ team as Nico Rosberg dominated the European Grand Prix, with Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton struggled to fifth place.
Rosberg led from the first corner and never looked back as Hamilton struggled to make up ground in the inaugural race in Azerbaijan. The world champion started 10th and was hampered by a problem with an engine setting during the race.
With Rosberg’s victory, Hamilton is now 24 points adrift of the German in the championship as a result. Hamilton said he had an "off day" in qualifying and Mercedes were at a loss to understand what happened.
Nico Rosberg is again in charge of his own destiny – and with Austria to come, where he has won for the past two years, there was an extra spring in his step after the weekend’s racing. All signs are pointing in the right direction for him. With two bad race weekends behind him (Monaco and Montreal), Rosberg’s five victories compared to Hamilton’s two have left the Briton with little room to maneuver in this year’s championship.
Vettel Takes His Own Advice
Ferrari finally had a strong race - only after Vettel decided not to listen to engineers and not pit when they asked him to
Ferrari’s decision-making this season has left a lot to be desired, particularly after the criticisms of their decision to switch to a two-stop while leading in Canada a week ago. This time, Vettel questioned the team and after initially saying he had to stop because he was going to be under-cut by Ricciardo, they kept him out - stopping Raikkonen instead, which led to a strong second place finish.
On the face of it, Ferrari’s showing in Baku was more than decent, with Vettel finishing second and his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen fourth, but only after Vettel totally ignored a call to pit for fresh rubber. Vettel was helped by troubles at Red Bull, and by Lewis Hamilton’s failure to find his right engine mode. But he was right to show a lack of faith in his team and that is why he finished strongly.
Politics aside, Baku was a great success. Despite some chaotic safety restarts in GP2 earlier on, the venue delivered massively over the course of the weekend.
Vettel was in no doubt. “It’s the first time here and I didn’t know what to expect but it’s been a great track,” he said. “The circuit is incredible – you need to be well equipped around here.”
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