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Race highlights - Europe 2016 - Drivers complete the inaugural race around Baku's city streets

Published by Christine

All smiles on the podium in Baku
Credit: Sahara Force India

The European Grand Prix returned to the calendar with the Baku streets playing host to 51 long laps completed by all drivers without any major chaos or incidents. Unlike predictions, there wasn't a single safety car period during the race, and it was mostly clean with just technical related retirements.

That being said, there was still potential for overtaking, a heck of a lot of radio traffic and complaints, drivers trying to fix their own mechanical issues and post-race penalties to take into account. Follow the lap by lap coverage below for a detailed look at how the race unfolded.

As it happened: Europe 2016 - The race

  • 13:15

    Hello friends, welcome to the Factbyte Factbox for the European Grand Prix - the first F1 race around the streets of Baku!

  • 13:15

    We've had three practice sessions and qualifying, plus a number of support races, and all of them have gone to prove that it's a narrow and tricky circuit proving difficult for the drivers to navigate.

  • 13:16

    A number of the drivers have had close encounters with the Baku walls, including Ricciardo and Pérez, and most recently in qualifying, Lewis Hamilton.

  • 13:16
    Circuit Data
    Baku City Circuit
    Local timezone+04:00 GMT
    First race2016
    Number of laps51
    Circuit length6.003km
    Race distance306.049km
    Start offset0.104km
  • 13:19

    Hamilton struggled in all three sessions of qualifying, spinning off in each but doing the most damage in Q3, where he caused a red flag after crashing out. He's ended up tenth on the grid.

  • 13:21

    QuoteSebastian Vettel on hoping to get into the lead at the first corner: "Surely if the opportunity is there, we got for it. Depends on ourselves to perform a good start, second on their start. Bit of a shame, one thousandths is not missing much to the front row but we should be on the clean side which should be an advantage.

    "You feel more alive definitely when you corner around the old town, flat out, seventh gears, 295 kph, you don’t want to imagine what happens if it goes wrong, but that’s not why we’re here. I think it’s a nice track, it’s narrow here and there but that’s part of racing."

  • 13:21

    Nico Rosberg snatched pole position, with Sergio Pérez behind him. The Force India driver has a five place grid penalty, however, due to a gearbox change.

  • 13:21

    Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo both set the exact same lap time in qualifying, to the thousandth of a second, but Ricciardo's came first, so he inherited the front row grid slot from Pérez.

  • 13:21
    Starting Grid
    1N RosbergMercedes
    2D RicciardoRed Bull
    3S VettelFerrari
    4K RäikkönenFerrari
    5F MassaWilliams
    6D KvyatToro Rosso
    7S PérezForce India
    8V BottasWilliams
    9M VerstappenRed Bull
    10L HamiltonMercedes
  • 13:22

    Sainz and Magnussen both have five place grid penalties as well, due to changing the gearboxes, which pushes them down the order further than they already are!

  • 13:25

    TweetTweet from @adamcooperf1: Had a chat with @RHaryantoracing this AM - the only man not to off all weekend. A good bet for points unless someone else takes him out

  • 13:25
    Medium tyreMedium
    Soft tyreSoft
    Supersoft tyreSupersoft

    The tyres on offer today range from medium to supersoft. Most of the drivers opted to bring one or two sets of the mediums, and focused their attentions on the supersofts instead.

  • 13:26

    Paul Hembery, motorsport director at Pirelli, offered up some insight following qualifying yesterday: "The supersoft was used from start to finish, but the fresh asphalt meant that there was little grip on offer, and the track was evolving all the time. As a result it was an exciting session, which suggests also that there could be a high probability of a safety car tomorrow.

    "While a one-stop strategy is clearly the way forward, there are some good opportunities to have on this rapid circuit, which combines the unpredictability of a street circuit with the possibility to overtake and move up the field."

  • 13:28

    QuoteLewis Hamilton: "It’s so hot here, it’s incredible. The weather’s turned out good which is going to be tough. The GP2 race showed anything is possible. It doesn’t seem like a good place to start, but it could be a blessing in disguise, who knows? I think we’ve got great pace, the team have done a great job with the car this weekend."

  • 13:30

    QuoteDaniel Ricciardo on whether he's due a bit of luck now: "I can’t keep relying on it to fall into my hands. I’ll do what I have to do and put my bit in to make sure we make it work. It’s not going to be straight forward, I think it’s going to be a challenging race for everyone. Likely to have some safety cars… I’m ready for it, I think it’s going to be fun, a lot of close racing. Should be some battles, that’s what I enjoy."

  • 13:31

    With half an hour to go until the race starts, the pit lane has opened, the cars are firing up to head out for an installation lap and to make their way to the grid.

  • 13:33

    With Hamilton's recent good results, he's managed to close the gap to championship leader Rosberg to only nine points - that means it could all change after today, but the Brit has given himself a lot of work today.

  • 13:37
    Championship Standings
  • 13:38

    Weather icon

    Wind speed2.8mps
  • 13:38

    It does look very hot on the grid, with the number of bodies and machinery crowding around to get prepared. Hamilton was sitting on the driver's parade because he said it was too hot and he'd forgotten to bring an umbrella.

  • 13:40

    QuoteChristian Horner, Red Bull: "Verstappen was unlucky in quali, but he’s revved up for this race. Just trying to calm him down because it’s not all done on the first lap. He’ll be good though, I think."

  • 13:41

    On the grid, Niki Lauda jumps out the way as Nico Rosberg is rolled forward to the front row space.

  • 13:43

    Esteban Gutiérrez, starting from 14th on the grid, says: "We are optimistic. This race, it’s a new track, there could be plenty of opportunities up front."

  • 13:45

    Kevin Magnussen is starting from the pit lane, as his car was modified in parc fermé.

  • 13:47

    Drivers are up at the front of the grid now, for the national anthem. You can see various cooling methods in progress - a couple of the cooling vests, towels around the neck, umbrellas up overhead for shade.

  • 13:51

    TweetTweet from @MercedesAMGF1: TEN MINUTES TO GO!! Get yourselves comfortable folks... The show is about to begin...

  • 13:54
    Fastest Session Times
    Free Practice 1L Hamilton1:46.435
    Free Practice 2L Hamilton1:44.223
    Free Practice 3L Hamilton1:44.352
    QualifyingN Rosberg1:42.758
  • 13:56

    It's the second longest track on the calendar, so lap times are long and the potential for chaos is high!

  • 13:56

    The medical car is just making it's final lap to check all is well with the circuit.

  • 13:57

    TweetTweet from @HaasF1Team: The general forecast for the 51-lap #EuropeGP is a one-stop strategy. Let's see how that all plays out.

  • 14:00

    The formation lap gets underway with Nico Rosberg nipping out into the first corner. All drivers are starting on the supersoft compounds except for Nico Hülkenberg in 12th, Pascal Wehrlein in 17th and Marcus Ericsson in 20th - they've all gone for the yellow softs instead.

  • 14:03

    The grid starts to form, and Kevin Magnussen rolls to the end of the pit lane to await his own private race start.

  • 14:03

    Green flagRace started.

  • 14:04 Lap 1

    Rosberg gets a good start, Ricciardo remains seconds. The Ferrari drivers didn't get their exceptional starts but got away perfectly wall.

  • 14:04 Lap 1

    It's an amazingly clean start, although their might have been some wheel bumping towards the rear of the field.

  • 14:04 Lap 1

    Massa and Kvyat are side by side, jostling for position.

  • 14:05 Lap 1

    Sergio Pérez has made his way up to fifth place, from seventh on the grid.

  • 14:06 Lap 1

    TweetTweet from @ForceIndiaF1: We saw Nico go sideways after being hit at Turn 1, but he still appears to be going. Phew!

  • 14:07 Lap 2

    Brief yellow flags in sector one on both the first and the second laps, but they've cleared just as quickly.

  • 14:07 Lap 3

    The tall buildings are offering shade from the searing sunshine, cars are dipping in and out of the bright glare.

  • 14:08 Lap 3

    Race controlDRS enabled.

  • 14:08 Lap 3

    Bottas hustled Kvyat for a couple of corners, and finally makes his way past the Toro Rosso to move into eighth place.

  • 14:09 Lap 4

    Replays show Gutiérrez has damage to the right of his front wing, as he was the one tangling with Hülkenberg at the start.

  • 14:09 Lap 4

    Sebastian Vettel has a slip-slide but continues onward without losing anything.

  • 14:10 Lap 4

    Romain Grosjean moves to the inside of Daniil Kvyat and easily takes the position, as the Toro Rosso loses another place! Hamilton had already dispatched the Russian just as easily.

  • 14:11 Lap 4

    Verstappen and Bottas, not the best of friends after some heavy duelling in qualifying, are back together on track.

  • 14:11 Lap 4

    Bottas cuts to the inside of Verstappen and the Red Bull went out wide, with Bottas making the move. The Red Bull driver retakes down the following straight.

  • 14:12 Lap 5

    When Verstappen tried to come back, he ran wide losing another position to Hamilton. Grosjean also has a look but doesn't quite manage to make it happen.

  • 14:12 Lap 5

    Rosberg has a seven second lead over second place Ricciardo already.

  • 14:13 Lap 5

    Vettel is within half a second of Ricciardo, looking to move into second place.

  • 14:13 Lap 6

    Vettel sets up the perfect overtake, racing past Ricciardo down the home straight. The Ferrari has a blue plastic bag waving around on his car somewhere though, hopefully that won't go into the air ducts.

  • 14:14 Lap 6

    Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso have both come in for super early pit stops. Soft tyres going on both cars.

  • 14:15 Lap 6

    Ricciardo has come into the pit lane as well, ditching the supersofts for a fresh set of softs.

  • 14:15 Lap 7

    Meanwhile, the offending blue plastic bag has flown off Vettel's Ferrari and now litters the side of the track.

  • 14:16 Lap 8

    Team radioTeam radio from Kimi Räikkönen: "There was some ******* plastic flying around, I tried to avoid it!"

  • 14:17 Lap 8

    Daniil Kvyat is being pushed back into the garage, it looks like his race might be over already.

  • 14:17 Lap 8

    Massa and Nasr head to their respective pits, lots of early stops for the softer compound so far.

  • 14:18 Lap 8

    Massa rejoins directly in front of Jolyon Palmer, who was side by side with Gutiérrez - the Renault got ahead of the Haas, but now looks at the rear wing of the Williams.

  • 14:18 Lap 8
    Plastic bag wrapped around the Ferrari

    Blue plastic wrapped around the Ferrari nose.

  • 14:18 Lap 9

    Vettel is called into the pit lane, Sebastian double checks: "Are you sure about this?" knowing that Ferrari's strategy calls haven't been the best of late.

  • 14:20 Lap 9

    TweetTweet from @ForceIndiaF1: Very relieved to see Checo narrowly avoiding the blue plastic bag. Bad for your side pods, and there's even a 5p charge now.

  • 14:20 Lap 10
    One to Watch
    V Bottasvs.L Hamilton
  • 14:21 Lap 10

    Rosberg, Vettel and Pérez now the top three - Vettel obviously didn't come into the pits when asked to. Ricciardo is the highest placed driver who has pitted, currently in 7th place.

  • 14:22 Lap 10

    Wehrlein is up in ninth place for the Manor, and he's chasing Grosjean in the Haas for eighth. Neither driver has pitted yet.

  • 14:22 Lap 10

    StopwatchFastest lap from the race leader Nico Rosberg, 1:49.903.

  • 14:23 Lap 11

    Hamilton passes Bottas on the straight, not too hard for the Mercedes as he sweeps into fourth.

  • 14:23 Lap 11

    Romain Grosjean comes into the pit lane, giving up that battle with Wehrlein. However, Räikkönen moves ahead of the Manor so Pascal remains ninth for now.

  • 14:24 Lap 12

    Hamilton has Pérez in his sights now, he's moved to within DRS range of the Force India.

  • 14:25 Lap 12

    Massa outdrags Wehrlein down the straight to take ninth place.

  • 14:25 Lap 12

    Race controlIncident involving Kimi Räikkönen - crossing the line at pit entry.

  • 14:27 Lap 13

    Hülkenberg is looking for an opportunity against Ricciardo ahead of him, he's within a second of the Red Bull, aiming to snatch sixth place.

  • 14:28 Lap 14

    Race control5 second time penalty for Kimi Räikkönen - crossing the line at pit entry.

  • 14:28 Lap 14

    Rosberg and Räikkönen are trading fastest laps at the moment, Kimi down in eighth, Rosberg out front in clear air.

  • 14:29 Lap 14
    Gap Analysis
  • 14:29 Lap 15

    Replays of Räikkönen's offence show he was trying to get the slipstream of Daniel Ricciardo, just as the Red Bull pitted. All four Ferrari wheels were over the entry line, but he jinked back out again, which raised the stewards eyebrows.

  • 14:31 Lap 15

    Team radioTeam radio from Lewis Hamilton: "My brakes have got vibration."

  • 14:32 Lap 16

    Lewis Hamilton dives into the pit lane, a super quick stop from the Mercedes crew, and he's back out on track in ninth place.

  • 14:32 Lap 16

    Meanwhile, Räikkönen makes a pass on Hülkenberg, closing up on the main straight and leaving it until the last possible moment to dive in front for sixth place.

  • 14:34 Lap 17

    Sergio Pérez is circling in third place, he dives into the pit lane having enjoyed a lonely period with gaps in front and behind. He rejoins in eighth place, ahead of Hamilton!

  • 14:35 Lap 18

    Alonso passed Ericsson for 12th place, then the Sauber came in for his first pit stop of the day, dropping him down to 19th.

  • 14:35 Lap 18

    Just five drivers have yet to stop now, the leading three Rosberg, Vettel and Bottas, then Hülkenberg in sixth and Wehrlein in 13th.

  • 14:36 Lap 18

    StopwatchHamilton sets the fastest lap so far - 1:48.187.

  • 14:37 Lap 19
    Driver Positions
    10N Rosberg0
    21S Vettel0
    35V Bottas0
    40K Räikkönen1
    5-3D Ricciardo1
  • 14:38 Lap 19

    Räikkönen is on an absolute charge so far this race, he easily moved past Ricciardo for fourth place. He still has a five second penalty hanging over his head though.

  • 14:39 Lap 20

    There's more blue plastic floating around menacingly above the track.

  • 14:40 Lap 20

    Bottas pits from third, he rejoins directly in front of Verstappen - BFFs on track together again.

  • 14:41 Lap 20

    From second place, Sebastian Vettel peels off into the pit lane. A super quick stop from the Ferrari crew and he rejoins in third place, just in front of Ricciardo but behind teammate Räikkönen.

  • 14:42 Lap 21

    Max Verstappen pits for the second time this afternoon, and he's opted to put on the medium white stripe compounds - an unexpected move!

  • 14:42 Lap 22

    Nico Rosberg pits from the lead of the race and has plenty enough time to rejoin in the lead.

  • 14:43 Lap 22

    Hamilton passes Daniel Ricciardo for fifth place, the Brit looking to go after Sergio Pérez ahead of him as well.

  • 14:44 Lap 22
    Gap Analysis
  • 14:44 Lap 23

    Team radioTeam radio to Pascal Wehrlein, who has been cutting corners: "Please be careful on turn eight, we've had our final warning."

  • 14:46 Lap 24

    There's a problem with the pit boards as noted by McLaren. Where drivers are heading down the home straight and trying to read their boards, the boards are being buffeted by air from cars zipping down the straight on the other side of the pit wall.

  • 14:48 Lap 25

    TweetTweet from @pirellisport: Interestingly, we thought this would be an obvious one-stopper, but in the end we’ll see a mixture of one and two stops

  • 14:50 Lap 26

    There's a battle brewing between the two Ferrari drivers - 1.3 seconds between Kimi in 2nd and Seb in 3rd.

  • 14:51 Lap 26

    Jenson Button heads to the pit lane for the second time, Alonso has also been in twice already. Yellows going on both McLarens.

  • 14:52 Lap 27

    Hülkenberg making best use of his supersoft tyres to overtake Sainz, and chase off after two Williams drivers who are sitting 6th and 7th.

  • 14:54 Lap 28

    Vettel moves ahead of Räikkönen in a driver swap, as the pair are on different strategies.

  • 14:55 Lap 29

    Hamilton complains of engine battery issues that are robbing him of pace, which may explain why he can't make any headway on the five second gap to Pérez ahead.

  • 14:56 Lap 29

    Team radioTeam radio to Kimi Räikkönen: "Kimi, thank you."

    "But now you tell him to push, I don't want him in front of me."

  • 14:58 Lap 30

    Vettel sets a new fastest lap, putting in a 1:47.582 to get clean out off Kimi's way.

  • 14:59 Lap 31

    Mercedes confirm Hamilton has a technical problem. His climb to the front currently on hold.

  • 15:00 Lap 31

    Blue flags are shown to Haryanto, Ericsson and Wehrlein as Rosberg catches the tail of the field.

  • 15:02 Lap 32

    Hamilton is on the radio desperately asking for help with his issue, but this year's regulations prevent the team from talking him through a system reset step-by-step. Frustration in the cockpit of the 44 car ensues.

  • 15:03 Lap 33

    Sainz has pulled off track in sector one. His race is over.

  • 15:03 Lap 33

    Team radioTeam radio from Carlos Sainz: "Okay, I have a problem in the suspension or something."

  • 15:04 Lap 34

    Kevin Magnussen, who started from the pit lane, is up to 11th place, just outside the points but with almost nine seconds to chase down Verstappen.

  • 15:07 Lap 35

    Team radioTeam radio to and from Hamilton: "I'm afraid I can't say Lewis."

    "I may not finish this race, because I'm gonna try and change everything."

    "We don't advise that Lewis."

  • 15:07 Lap 35

    Quite like Lewis' attitude here. IMA PRESS ALLLL THE BUTTONS.

  • 15:09 Lap 37

    None of the predicted chaos so far, not a single safety car. Incredible driving from everyone, really.

  • 15:12 Lap 38

    A few more drivers are running on the medium compounds now - Ricciardo up in eighth, Grosjean in 15th and Wehrlein, way down in 19th who took the unusual strategy of softs and then mediums, no supersofts to be seen.

  • 15:13 Lap 39

    A McLaren inter-team battle sees Button wind his way past Alonso for 12th place.

  • 15:14 Lap 39

    Kimi is back on the radio, swearing about drivers ignoring blue flags. "There's nothing we can do," the engineer responds.

  • 15:17 Lap 41
    Driver Positions
    10N Rosberg1
    21S Vettel1
    31K Räikkönen1
    43S Pérez1
    55L Hamilton1
    62V Bottas1
    75N Hülkenberg1
    8-6D Ricciardo2
    9-4F Massa2
    10-1M Verstappen2
  • 15:18 Lap 41

    Yellow flagYellow flags for Pascal Wehrlein who has stopped off track at turn one.

  • 15:18 Lap 41

    Team radioTeam radio from Wehrlein: "I have no brakes anymore, completely broken brakes."

  • 15:19 Lap 42

    Fernando Alonso overtakes Romain Grosjean, but the Haas driver takes the inside line round the next corner and gets back in front. They're battling for 14th position.

  • 15:21 Lap 43

    StopwatchLewis Hamilton has fixed something on his car, setting the fastest lap of the race so far with a 1:46.822.

  • 15:22 Lap 44

    Team radioTeam radio to Fernando Alonso: "Fernando, we can see the problem getting worse, we need to box this lap."

    "Okay, I cannot downshift in the corners."

  • 15:23 Lap 44

    Alonso does veer off into the pit lane, and gets set to retire. The mechanics push him back into the garage, race over.

  • 15:25 Lap 45
    One to Watch
    N Hülkenbergvs.D Ricciardo
  • 15:26 Lap 46

    Verstappen takes the inside line on Massa, moving up into ninth place. Massa's tyres are showing significant signs of wear but there are just six laps to go.

  • 15:27 Lap 46

    Team radioRäikkönen is also having radio traffic issues:

    "I can't answer that Kimi."

    "For sure, you can say yes or no!"

    "I can't."

  • 15:28 Lap 47

    Five laps to go. Rosberg has a commanding lead, with two Ferraris behind him. Pérez is chasing Kimi for third.

  • 15:28 Lap 47

    Four retirements so far, but all due to mechanical issues, rather than the crashes we were anticipating.

  • 15:31 Lap 48

    Ricciardo moves to the inside of Hülkenberg down the main straight, he locks up to make the corner but keeps the advantage for 7th place.

  • 15:35 Lap 51

    Räikkönen didn't take a second pit stop, so he'll have a post-race five second penalty added to his race time. As the gap to Pérez is just one second at the moment, Sergio will move up to third and get another podium position.

  • 15:35 Lap 51

    On the final lap, Pérez makes a move on Räikkönen to take third place on track, regardless of the time penalty.

  • 15:36

    Chequered flagNico Rosberg wins the European Grand Prix!

  • 15:37

    TweetTweet from @ManorRacing: Tough day at the office. Rio ends it P18, unable to recover from opening lap contact that required a long stop for a new front wing.

  • 15:37

    Vettel and Pérez cross the line for the final two podium positions. Räikkönen settles for fourth, with Hamilton cruising to fifth place.

  • 15:38
    Race Winner
    DriverN Rosberg
    Race time1:32:52.366
    Race distance306.049km
    Average speed197.721km/h
  • 15:39
    Gap Analysis
  • 15:39

    TweetTweet from @pirellisport: It was a grand slam for Rosberg: pole, win, fastest lap.

  • 15:40
    Driver Positions
    10N Rosberg1
    21S Vettel1
    34S Pérez1
    40K Räikkönen1
    55L Hamilton1
    62V Bottas1
    7-5D Ricciardo2
    81M Verstappen2
    93N Hülkenberg1
    10-5F Massa2
  • 15:41

    Rosberg struggles to disconnect himself from the car, but finally climbs out and raises his arms aloft. Another win for the German to increase his championship lead again.

  • 15:41
    D KvyatUnknown8
    C SainzSuspension33
    P WehrleinBrakes41
    F AlonsoGearbox44
  • 15:43

    Not the chaotic race that everyone was predicting - and that the GP2 drivers managed - but offered up a few interesting insights. Frustrations over the radio ban, Vettel's suspicions of Ferrari strategists, and Kimi ranting at everyone and everything.

  • 15:44

    Great job by Pérez to pick up yet another podium. He, Vettel and Rosberg gather in the podium green room and discuss the race.

  • 15:46

    TweetTweet from @MauriceHamilton: Lauda tells @SkySportsF1 @nico_rosberg had same prob 'Nico was able to fix it but I wouldn't blame Lewis. It's very difficult"

  • 15:46

    TweetTweet from @ForceIndiaF1: And now we really do need a larger trophy cabinet.

  • 15:47

    The chaps take to the podium for the national anthems, trophies, and champagne!

  • 15:54

    QuotePodium quotes - Nico Rosberg: "It’s been an amazing day, amazing weekend. Thank you Baku for welcoming us in this way. Great track you’ve made, really exciting racing. For me the weekend went perfectly, really happy, qualifying, race, everything to plan. Really awesome."

  • 15:54

    QuotePodium quotes - Sebastian Vettel: "I think, first of all, thank you. First time we’re here, Azerbaijan, I didn’t really know what to expect but a great track, great pleasure, great welcome for all of us. Some proper high speed corners and very close. Today has been a great job for us. By the end of yesterday the car was coming alive. Was struggling a bit on Friday, but to see where we are now it’s a great recovery.

    "Second place in a row, two times in a row on the podium now, after Canada, which is great, scoring some good points, even though this weekend was a bit different to last week. But still, the pace is there, the car is good, we are coming along, all in all a great day and thanks to the team."

  • 15:55

    QuotePodium quotes - Sergio Pérez: "I knew yesterday, when I put the car in the wall in P3, this was a big chance for us to score a massive result, I was so frustrated with myself. Going into qualifying my boys did an amazing job to fix the car, to put everything together and then I had to do the job. I had to get on with the job yesterday. We had a great qualifying but still, we started P7 today.

    "We had to make our way through, very good start, very good first lap, very nice overtaking into turn 2 for Massa and Kvyat. Then fighting with Kimi all the way to the end. I knew that he had a five second penalty, but it was still nice to get him in the last lap."

  • 15:58

    There are two weeks now until the next race in Austria, time for plenty of debriefing over what has happened in the past two weeks. Mercedes have their ebbs and flows of momentum, Ferrari are mounting a comeback, Red Bull have lost their way again, and almost everyone needs to take a long hard look at the strategy handbook.

  • 15:59

    Thanks for joining me for the session today, it wasn't the madcap race I was hoping for but still a lot of fun covering it all. Until next time, fact fans.

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