2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix – Sunday
THE RACE TYRE STORY
- Red Bull sealed a one-two finish, with Max Verstappen leading home his team mate Sergio Perez, becoming the sixth different winner in Azerbaijan. Both drivers completed an identical strategy: starting on the P Zero Yellow medium tyre then completing two stints on the P Zero White hard, taking advantage of the second virtual safety car to make their final pit stops. Under the virtual safety car, a pit stop takes around half the time it would under green flag conditions.
- The top four all used a two-stop strategy, with the Mercedes drivers (in third and fourth) making their first stops under the first virtual safety car period: a few laps before the Red Bull drivers made their initial stops.
- Today was one of the hottest days of the Baku weekend, with the race getting away at 3pm local time, when track temperatures were in excess of 50 degrees centigrade. This made thermal degradation a risk for the softer compounds.
- The majority of the drivers started on the medium tyre, with five starting on the hard. The highest-placed of them was McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, who finished seventh.
HOW THE COMPOUNDS MADE THE DIFFERENCE
- HARD: The key compound today, which coped extremely well with the high temperatures and speeds of the Baku street circuit. As a result, it showed nearly no degradation and allowed the drivers to push hard. AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel, in fifth and sixth respectively, completed a 42-lap final stint on this compound after switching tyres under the first virtual safety car. The fastest lap (with an extra championship point) was set by Perez using the hard.
- MEDIUM: The most popular choice for the start of the race, although many drivers chose to get off it early, on lap nine, to take advantage of a ‘free’ pit stop under the virtual safety car. As predicted, it showed some degradation, but this was entirely within expected parameters.
- SOFT: For the second race in a row, this was used only by AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, who swapped onto this compound when he made an unscheduled stop for rear wing repairs close to the end. Generally speaking, it was too soft for longer runs in today’s conditions.
“In all likelihood, this would have been a one-stop race, but the opportunities presented by the virtual safety cars for pit stops with minimal time loss were too good for several of the teams to ignore. This influenced the timing of the pit stops and therefore the strategy. We still saw seven of the 15 finishers stopping only once, which underlines the durability as well as the performance of the tyres here. With the conditions as they were, on a hot track featuring high speeds, it was clear that the harder compounds were best suited to today’s race: a fact that many of the teams had anticipated by saving more than one set of hard tyres for the grand prix.”
A dramatic 26-lap feature race – interrupted by three safety car periods – was won by Prema’s Dennis Hauger, after Hitech’s polesitter Juri Vips crashed out of the lead with just five minutes to go. Most of the drivers, including Hauger and Vips, started on the P Zero Purple supersoft before switching to the P Zero Yellow medium within the first 10 laps. Trident driver Calan Williams ran the opposite strategy, starting on the medium, to eventually take the lead before losing his advantage after going straight on at Turn 3. ART Grand Prix’s Frederik Vesti also ran a medium-supersoft strategy, ending up seventh after starting from the back of the grid. The medium offered drivers the chance to push hard throughout the whole stint, while the supersoft was a much more aggressive choice with a limited performance window.