Perez had another strong performance at the Baku race
By: Leona Stewart
Team orders were in plain sight in Baku last weekend.
Both Mclaren and Red Bull have been in the spotlight following their team orders which seemed to cause waves within fans.
Following his win in Monaco, Sergio Perez was a favourite to win in Baku, and it was looking promising for the Mexican. After out-pacing his team mate Max Verstappen in Qualifying, Perez was set to start on the front row beside Charles Leclerc.
Perez got the best start from lights out and ended up ahead of pole-sitter Leclerc, who had a lock up at turn one. It was not long before Checo had extended his lead and looked comfortable out in front, with Verstappen behind.
However, by lap 9 Carlos Sainz’ Ferrari had suffered mechanical issues and was out, resulting in a virtual safety car, causing all drivers to slow, and many took the chance for a free stop. When racing resumed, Perez had lost tire temperature and grip, and it wasn’t long before Verstappen had caught up to him, where the “No fighting” order was given. Verstappen then went on to win the race.
With both Ferraris quickly out of the picture when Charles Leclerc also had to retire from first due to engine failure, the Red Bull 1-2 was secured. While Perez himself said that the team orders were fair due to Verstappen’s pure pace – which could be seen in the gap between the two by the end – many fans thought this was unfair.
Perhaps a bitter taste of the Ricciardo/Verstappen fight back in 2018 in Baku lingered on the Pit Wall, nonetheless it was controversial amongst fans. Particularly following the fierce comments made by Max Verstappen’s father Jos following Perez’ win in Monaco.
Mclaren team orders have not been so easily resolved.
Both Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo spent most of the Grand Prix within touching distance of each other, finishing 8th and 9th – a fair result for the team.
The pair had been on different strategies; Ricciardo started on the hard for a long run and Norris on mediums for a shorter, faster, first stint. Ricciardo seemed to have the pace over his teammate.
Having spent time stuck between the Alpines of Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon, team orders began in lap 4. With Norris flirting with the DRS of Alonso, he was looking for the overtake, and Ricciardo was just escaping the DRS from Ocon behind. Eager to overtake his teammate, claiming to have more pace on the team radio, he was told to hold back.
Lando was due to pit, meaning Ricciardo would have clean air and position to push, but he had concerns of being caught by Pierre Gasly who had pitted into the traffic.
Eventually pitting under the VSC, Ricciardo came out ahead of his teammate, and finished ahead. Norris had seemed eager to overtake his teammate to take Alonso and claim P7, although team orders again told him to hold back, like they had with Ricciardo earlier.
Mclaren fans have been quick to defend Danny Ric recently, especially with his lack of performance and rumoured exit from the team. So of course, once again they jumped to defend him, and Norris, claiming the team should be doing more to work together instead of prioritising individual drivers, and potentially creating unnecessary rivals.
Both Ricciardo and Norris have spoken on the incident, with the Aussie saying the team did their best to maximise the points. Norris was not so chipper in response, saying he got unlucky with strategy and that he would’ve preferred the 8th, however said he was still happy with the team result as a whole.