It was plain sailing for Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg at Baku, Azerbaijan
Nico Rosberg piloted his Mercedes to a convincing win at the first grand prix in Azerbaijan. The championship leader started from pole and stopped just once, passing from supersoft to soft tyres, without ever losing the lead. While some cars were forced to stop twice due to the higher than expected temperatures, Pirelli said that tyre degradation was lower than expected. The top six finishers all started on the P Zero Red supersoft, stopping once to change to the P Zero Yellow soft tyre between laps 8 and 21. These soft tyre stints therefore lasted up to 43 laps, the number achieved by Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
Alternative strategies were not as successful, though Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, who started on the soft tyre, finished ninth after starting 12th on the grid. The best placed two-stopper was Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, who used all three compounds nominated for Azerbaijan – supersoft, soft and P Zero White medium – which was also his teammate Max Verstappen’s strategy.
Another alternative strategy was adopted by Manor’s Pascal Wehrlein, who completed a very long 29-lap opening stint on the soft, then reverted to the medium before his retirement. Renault’s Kevin Magnussen, by contrast, had a very long closing stint on the soft tyre that even lasted for 46 laps. Manor’s Rio Haryanto went even longer: 48 laps.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director, stated: “The Baku grand prix contained a number of surprises; firstly with track temperatures still in excess of 50 degrees after one third of the race, and with very little drop in temperature throughout. And secondly because the much-anticipated safety cars never materialised. As expected, it was a one-stop race for the winner, with quite high wear and low degradation despite the long lap length and very high top speeds. We saw a number of different strategies being tried, including some very long stints even on the supersoft, which was key to Nico Rosberg’s victory on this spectacular track.”