Formula 1’s visits to Baku rarely disappoint, and the 2022 race was no different – even if Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix did include a major blow for one title contender as his main rival romped to another win.
Edd Straw delivers his verdict on the performances of all 20 F1 drivers across the weekend.
After each grand prix, The Race will rate each driver’s weekend with a mark out of 10.
An average mark is 5 out of 10, so that score is indicative of a decent drive given the high standard of drivers in F1.
For a more in-depth explanation, read our outline of the system.
Started: 3rd Finished: 1st
What he called some “tiny mistakes” from the second sector onwards cost Verstappen in Q3, although Perez always seemed to have the edge on him on single-lap pace in the middle sector.
Held third early on chasing Leclerc, but was given the position when the Ferrari pitted under the early virtual safety car. Easily caught and passed Perez, who was instructed not to put up a fight, and was 13 seconds behind Leclerc with a nine-lap tyre-life advantage when he was handed the lead by Leclerc’s retirement.
Verdict: Still not quite there on single-lap pace, but strong in the race – although Leclerc’s retirement made things far easier for him.
Started: 2nd Finished: 2nd
Looked to have the edge on pace over Verstappen, particularly in the middle sector. A fuelling problem delayed the start of his final run, but despite having no tow Perez produced a superb lap to claim second on the grid.
Took the lead at the start, but uncharacteristically struggled with tyre management. Graining suffered after the VSC gave Verstappen a big pace advantage and the instruction not to fight meant Perez ceded the lead easily. Despite time lost in the pitstops, his race pace wasn’t as good as Verstappen, which the team put down to the tyre struggles.
Verdict: Stronger in qualifying than race trim, settling into the support role on Sunday.
Started: 7th Finished: 4th
Ran what team boss Toto Wolff called “a different floor solution” to Russell in qualifying as Mercedes continued to troubleshoot its problems, ending up a couple of tenths slower. The pair were separated by a couple of hundredths exiting Turn 16, but the gap stretched on the run to the line with the ride of Hamiton’s car even more savage than Russell’s.
Stayed ahead of Tsunoda at the start but struggled to challenge Gasly during the first and second stints, which wasn’t helped by time lost in the first stops that allowed Vettel to get ahead temporarily.
A second stop for a fresh set of hards under the second VSC gave him a grip advantage and allowed him to catch and pass Gasly.
Verdict: A good weekend’s work struggling with a more experimental floor.
Started: 5th Finished: 3rd
Extracted the most from the car in qualifying to take fifth despite being “shaken to pieces” by the savage bottoming out on the bumps.
Held onto fifth at the start and executed the race well, initially on a one-stopper after pitting for hards under the VSC. That was converted to a two-stopper to take fresh hards under the second VSC thanks to a cheap pitstop that didn’t cost him track position. The demise of the Ferraris added up to third place.
Verdict: Took the best possible result in qualifying and the race.
Started: 1st Finished: DNF
Pulled another qualifying special out of the bag having been half-a-tenth off Sainz on his first lap. It wasn’t a perfect lap and lacked a tow to the line, with a few moments to correct, but it was enough to give him pole by almost three tenths.
Didn’t have the best start thanks to a dash of wheelspin and lost the lead to Perez at Turn 1, locking up at the first corner but keeping it on the island. Held off Verstappen early on and came in for a stop under the early VSC. He led by 13 seconds from Verstappen on tyres nine laps older than the Red Bull driver when his power unit gave out.
Verdict: Deserved a chance to see if he could close out victory, although start was costly.
Started: 4th Finished: DNF
Fastest on the first runs in Q3, he took an “aggressive” approach to his final run. Opted to run in clear air with no tow to allow him to optimise the tyre prep, but he was almost two tenths slower than on his first run after an untidy lap.
Held fourth at the start and had fallen to five seconds off third-placed Verstappen when he was forced to retire with a hydraulics problem.
Verdict: Pace when it mattered in qualifying and early in the race was so-so.
Started: 12th Finished: 8th
Struggled on Friday while trying some things worked on in the simulator before the race, but on Saturday looked far more comfortable. Still ended up just over a tenth-and-a-half behind Norris and was a little disappointed not to take a bigger step in pace in Q2.
Ran 12th in the first stint at the start of a long run on hards, holding his place in the queue having been ordered to stay behind team-mate Norris before stopping under the VSC. That allowed him to pit and re-emerge ahead of Norris, with the other three places gained thanks to Ferrari’s frailties and Tsunoda’s DRS-induced second stop.
Verdict: Needed a decent weekend, and produced one.
Started: 11th Finished: 9th
Had the pace to make it to Q3 but didn’t execute Q2 well, with an off and struggles to nail the tyre prep meaning he didn’t produce the pace the car was capable of. But it was still enough to be ahead of his team-mate.
Ran 11th early on after starting on mediums, with team-mate Ricciardo ordered to stay behind him. He eventually had to stop for hards after 20 laps, which dropped him into traffic.
He eventually cleared Albon and Stroll, but the VSC timing ensured Ricciardo could stop and re-emerge ahead. Norris ran ninth in the final stint, having made a net gain of two places thanks to others’ problems, and was ordered to stay behind Ricciardo.
Verdict: A pretty good weekend, but not his finest of what’s been a strong season.
Started: 13th Finished: 10th
The Norris-triggered yellow flag in Q2 denied Ocon the chance to set a time on fresh rubber, leaving him well off a top-10 place. But he was well up at the time and reckoned he was a tenth-and-a-half quicker than team-mate Alonso when he had to abort.
Ran 13th in the first stint and was effectively still there at the end of the race, albeit having climbed to 10th thanks to the demise of the Ferraris and Tsunoda’s enforced second stop. Started on hards and ran long, taking mediums under the second VSC, and was comfortably clear of Bottas in the battle for the final point.
Verdict: Qualifying didn’t reflect his speed but drove a capable, error-free race.
Started: 10th Finished: 7th
Made it to Q3 but didn’t think there was much more pace in the car, although a tenth would have been enough to pick off Vettel ahead. But it was a well-executed session, even if Albon did suggest Alonso was playing games at the end of Q1.
Held 10th early on and gained a place when Sainz retired, but despite starting on mediums didn’t stop under the VSC and instead ran to lap 18 before making his stop. Passed Bottas, Magnussen and, with assistance, Ocon early in that stint to ensure he didn’t get bogged down, which ensured he cycled through back to what was effectively his original position, which became seventh thanks to the retirements of the Ferraris and Tsunoda’s extra stop.
Verdict: Made the most of the Alpine’s straightline speed in the race after a solid qualifying.
Started: 6th Finished: 5th
Executed qualifying strongly, breezing through to Q3 and then putting the car sixth. But even then he was a little disappointed as Russell was potentially beatable, but for a little time lost in the first half of the lap.
Held sixth early on then stopped under the early VSC, keeping Hamilton at arm’s length for the first half of the race. He ran to the end on that set of hards and was unable to stop under the second VSC as he only had soft sets remaining, which left him vulnerable to Hamilton’s charge to pass him.
Verdict: A strong weekend’s work with only the imperfections of Q3 really counting against him.
Started: 8th Finished: 13th
Survived a lock-up and trip up the Turn 2 escape road on his final Q2 run to scrape into Q3 – 0.022s quicker than Norris having run used softs on his first run. He was a couple of tenths off Gasly, with much of the deficit in the middle sector, in Q3.
Pitted from eighth under the early VSC and looked comfortable on hards on his way to what would have been sixth place when a DRS problem struck. With only one half of the flap opening, he was given the ‘meatball’ flag, meaning he had to pit for repairs – dropping him to 13th.
Verdict: Strung together a good weekend, but was a little off Gasly’s level.
Started: 9th Finished: 6th
Made it through Q1 and Q2 comfortably, with the latter particularly impressive as he didn’t benefit from a big tow on his way to seventh in Q2. Opted to use his one fresh set of softs in the first part of Q3 and put together a good lap, albeit without the benefit of a good tow.
Ran eighth after getting ahead of Tsunoda in the first part of the opening lap then opted to stop under the VSC on lap nine. But an error when passing Ocon, which was partly down to losing track of exactly where he was approaching the braking zone, led to a trip up the escape road and places lost to Hamilton and Tsunoda. He finished sixth, which was where he likely would have done anyway, but lost seven seconds to that mistake.
Verdict: Just because his lap-13 off didn’t ultimately change his result doesn’t mean it doesn’t damage what would otherwise be a very high rating.
Started: 19th Finished: 16th
Had a disastrous Q1, first nosing into the barriers at Turn 7 and then locking up and hitting the wall at Turn 2, bringing out the red flag. But regardless of that, looked off Vettel’s pace in Baku, albeit with the caveat that the team felt he was battling a power unit issue costing pace and pushed too hard to compensate.
Started on hards and ran to lap 30 before making his sole stop to take mediums, shortly before the VSC was deployed. Ultimately, that didn’t make a huge amount of difference as even if he’d waited a few laps he’d still have been behind Bottas and out of touch with the points. Retired from 14th place late on after being warned of “high oscillations”.
Verdict: A solid race couldn’t make up for a dire Q1 on a weekend where he lacked Vettel’s pace.
Started: 18th Finished: 15th
Had to rely on his first-run time for his grid position thanks to being towards the back of the queue after the restart, starting his lap by necessity too close to Zhou and aborting when it was clear he’d lost far too much time as a result. Complained of the car “missing shifts all over the place”, although the team said the gearshifts performed “correctly”.
Getting pushed back on the dummy grid led to a stop/go penalty that ruined his race. It meant he was cast adrift at the back and quickly into blue-flag hell. A five-second penalty for not respecting blue flags added insult to injury.
Verdict: Pace remains elusive, but the race being effectively ruined before it started wasn’t his doing.
Started: 17th Finished: 12th
Albon was down on his first-run best time when Alonso removed himself from offering a tow in the post-red flag scramble in Q1 by going off at Turn 15. Albon didn’t lose much to the distraction of Alonso going up the escape road, but a mighty tow could well have allowed him to improve and make Q2.
Albon was impressed with the pace of the Williams in the race, and having pitted under the VSC on lap nine opted for a second stop for hards that came four laps before the second VSC. That allowed Bottas to pit and stay ahead when Albon might otherwise had beaten him. But points were never quite on the cards.
Verdict: Another good weekend’s work from Albon.
Started: 14th Finished: DNF
Zhou was in the top 10 in Q1 thanks to a mighty tow from Sainz, then benefitted from following Bottas in Q2. But despite outqualifying Bottas for the first time, Zhou was disappointed not to get a second push lap on his final Q2 run, which the team expected the tyres would be right in the window for, thanks to Tsunoda’s yellow flag.
Zhou was right with Vettel, and on the same strategy with a lap-nine stop under the VSC and a possible run to the finish on hards. But a cooling problem that the team accepted was on the car, rather than the Ferrari engine, forced him to retire – costing a good shot at points.
Verdict: Difficult to benchmark him against Bottas, but a well-executed weekend that could have led to points.
Started: 15th Finished: 11th
Struggled to extract grip on the C5s and had difficulties with lock-ups in FP3 on a tough weekend for Alfa Romeo. Scraped through into Q2 with his final lap after the red flag, helped by being directly behind Alonso and Albon, meaning the Alpine driver’s off and resulting yellow flag didn’t compromise him. But a Tsunoda-inspired yellow flag ruined his final lap in Q2.
Bottas had the right strategy, starting on hards and making his one pitstop under the VSC on lap 33, and benefitted from faster cars retiring, yet that still added up only to 11th. As he put it, team-mate Zhou was “in another league” on pace, leading to both team and driver believing there was an undiagnosed car problem.
Verdict: Problems mean the lack of pace is excusable, but difficult to quantify.
Started: 16th Finished: DNF
Haas’s position at the end of the pitlane meant Magnussen was out in a morass of traffic after the red flag, which was thrown when he was on his first push lap on his second run. He did start the lap, but had to pass Norris heading into Turn 2 and the time loss meant improving was never on. With a clean second run, he’d have made Q2 easily.
Despite dropping two places to 18th through the first two corners thanks to being stuck on the inside and Albon and then Stroll getting ahead, Magnussen recovered to 15th by the time he pitted under the VSC on lap nine. Aiming to run on hards to the end, he was behind Ocon, who had yet to pit, when he retired because of a failure in the power unit – denying him a likely points finish.
Verdict: Magnussen was a little unfortunate in qualifying, but reliability problems ended a strong recovery to likely points.
Started: 20th Finished: 14th
Schumacher’s first run was untidy in places, resulting in a huge deficit to Magnussen of just over 1.1s. The Stroll red flag interrupted his second run, then he was in traffic in the post-red-flag scramble.
Schumacher initially ran at the back but got ahead of Latifi when the Williams driver served his stop/go penalty. From there, he made little progress with a clear pace deficit to Magnussen even factoring in the split starting-tyre choices. After taking mediums at the first VSC, he switched back to hards 14 laps later and ended up finishing ahead only of Latifi.
Verdict: Kept it out of the wall, which was essential, but otherwise not a good weekend.