Perez makes amends with lightning lap one
Had he not spun his Force India into the wall in final practice, necessitating a new gearbox, Sergio Perez would have started alongside Nico Rosberg on the front row of the grid - and may even have been a victory contender. As it was, his five-place penalty meant he started seventh - but the Mexican’s fightback began on the very first lap. When the lights go out he makes a clean, if unspectacular getaway, and maintains a watching brief as the Williams of Felipe Massa immediately ahead locks up and runs wide into Turn 1. The recovering Massa moves to inside line coming into Turn 2 as the Brazilian looks to fend off the attacking Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat. Seeing his opportunity, Perez doesn’t need asking twice and he is cleanly around the outside of both cars - and up to fifth place - as he exits the corner.
Kimi crosses the line
Kimi Raikkonen effectively dropped out of podium contention when this move led to a five-second time penalty. Heading onto Baku’s gargantuan main straight at the end of lap 6, the Ferrari driver is pursuing the third-placed Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo - and understandably he looks to pick up a tow. What Raikkonen doesn’t realise is that Ricciardo is heading for the pits for an early tyre change - and by the time he jinks right to pass the slowing Australian, it’s too late. All four wheels are inside the pit-entry line, which he then crosses, infringing the regulations in the process.
Gutierrez goes for the gap - and regrets it
Starting 14th on the grid, it’s not the best of getaways for Haas’s Esteban Gutierrez, who immediately sees the blue and yellow Sauber of Felipe Nasr moving ahead to his right. In his bid to recover Gutierrez carries too much speed into Turn 1 and locks up. The Mexican goes for only space available down the inside into Turn 1, but that space rapidly disappears as Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg justifiably keeps his line. There is contact and we can see front wing elements departing Gutierrez’s car - as well as a superb save from Hulkenberg. The damage would ultimately force the Haas driver to pit for repairs on lap 8. Note also on the right the fast-starting McLaren of Fernando Alonso, who in typical style finds his way around the outside of several cars in the opening corner.
Ricciardo in reverse
He may have started from the front row, but it quickly became clear that Daniel Ricciardo would not be a contender in Baku. Red Bull had dialled out downforce from the RB12 in a bid to keep up on the straights, but the consequence was a struggle to switch on the tyres, forcing the team to move from a one- to a two-stop strategy. By lap 21 - seen here - Ricciardo was rapidly approaching the end of his second stint. His tired rubber, combined with the superior grunt of Mercedes-powered machinery, sees the Australian passed by not one but two cars in a matter of yards. First Force India’s Sergio Perez slipstreams down the outside for P4. And seconds later the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton dives to the inside into Turn 1 to relieve Ricciardo of fifth.
Round the outside
Few drivers made passes stick around the outside of Turn 1 in Baku, but this was one them. In what was - by recent standards - a pretty good race for Sauber, here we see Felipe Nasr staying to the right of Kevin Magnussen as he passes the Renault down the main straight. Magnussen has the inside line, but such is Nasr’s momentum that the Brazilian is able to brake later and pull smoothly ahead of the Dane for P12, despite missing the apex by some margin.
Alonso versus Grosjean
Battling over 14th place as he heads into lap 42, there is nothing Fernando Alonso can do to prevent the Haas of Romain Grosjean overtaking on the inside into Turn 1. However, Grosjean gets momentarily out of shape as he exits the corner - a small mistake but one costly enough to allow the McLaren pull alongside and to retake the position into Turn 2. Good, clean racing from both men.
Three into one will go
The sheer width and speed of Baku’s main straight meant you could never be sure how the battles would play out from one end to other, with drivers - some aided by DRS - slipstreaming each other as they hurtled ever closer to the huge braking event of Turn 1. Here we get Lewis Hamilton’s view of the battle for sixth between Williams' Felipe Massa and the chasing Red Bull of Max Verstappen. The world champion clearly gets a tow from the cars ahead and briefly pulls alongside Verstappen, who in turn has edged in front of Massa, before they brake. It’s the Williams, on the inside, that gets the place into Turn 1, as Hamilton stays out wide and slots in neatly behind Verstappen. But the young Dutchman - off the optimum line and with a car on either side - marginally misjudges his braking, going wide on the exit and allowing the Mercedes to get a decisive run on him into Turn 2.