By Vlad Roman,
General Manager, Smart Games

The end of April brought us a new qualifying format, a bit complicated but with a good chance of making the weekend more exciting for viewers. So on Friday we had a round of practice and qualifying for Sunday’s race, on Saturday morning we had a new qualifying format, also in three stages for the afternoon sprint. I think the FIA chose the Baku circuit for this new format primarily to test the reaction of both teams, drivers and spectators, it’s hard to say if it was a success but it’s a first step towards the changes announced for the next years.

Ferrari started well on Friday, they managed to put Leclerc on pole followed by the two „red bulls”, there were high hopes and brief moments of glory for the team’s fans as the following day the Red Bulls showed their muscles placing the Monegasque in the top 3 places. It should be noted that only four teams, Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes and Aston Martin, scored points in the sprint with both pilots.

Not much happened in the big race on Sunday… until the safety car. Here the strategies of the teams changed and those who were in the phase managed to gain 12 seconds with the change of tires during the neutralization, unfortunately for Hamilton it did not go well but he managed with a little luck to finish the race in 6th place.

Aston Martin has shown again that it is the pleasant surprise of the season. Alonso finished 4th, Stroll 7th, starting from 6th and 9th respectively. Alonso impressed everyone by giving advice over the radio on how to better adjust Stroll’s brakes in a competition where usually the teammate he is your enemy.

The standings after the race were similar to the sprint standings in that all 4 teams shared the top eight places in a slightly different order, the gap between Verstappen and Perez narrowed to just 5 points and with that comes the hope that at least one to have a showdown between the Red Bull drivers for the world title, but with Verstappen’s unconditional support from the team it is hard to see a showdown.

However, the ranking of the teams shows a somewhat tragic situation. Red Bull already has more than double the points of the 2nd place team, and that’s after only 4 races! Mercedes, Aston Martin and Ferrari are fighting for 2nd place. The gap between 4th and 5th place is already huge, McLaren only have 14 points after 4 races and it’s amazing that 5 other teams have less than 14 points after this start to the season. Alpine seems to be nowhere to be found, and so is Alfa Romeo.

A week away, in Miami, we see Checo again in pole position followed by Alonso and Sainz, but only because Leclerc crashed into the fence and spoiled Max’s fast lap. Anyway, this was about the only event of the American weekend, Versappen did what he knows best!… he quickly recovered the 8 positions that separated him from Perez and in just 19 laps of the circuit he took the lead and stayed there until the end.

Alonso finished third and continues to amaze with his consistent presence in the top 4 in the 5 races so far while Mercedes and Ferrari shared the next four places.

The next race is at Imola, Ferrari’s home circuit, where the team hopes to bring a car with more of a chance at the world title… for the sake of competition we’re waiting for a change too!

Until then we are preparing for CEGS23 where there is a lot to discuss and see!

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