Formula One heads to the Baku City Circuit this weekend in Azerbaijan, in an event that is always prone to produce drama-filled races.
With the narrow streets leading up to the famous castle section from the reprofiled turn eight to the 2,010m long straight. Bakou has produced some strange and entertaining memories.
Here are five memorable moments from the Baku City Circuit:
1. Max Verstappen vs Daniel Ricciardo (2018)
Despite winning the inaugural Azerbaijan Grand Prix in 2017. Daniel Ricciardo couldn’t finish the race in 2018 after he collided with, then, teammate Max Verstappen.
Intense battles ensued between the duo throughout the course of the race as they banged tyres and squeezed each other. By lap 40, Ricciardo had closed in on his Dutch counterpart down the long straight.
In a bid to dummy Verstappen, the Australian weaved right to left. However, the Dutch Red Bull repeated the same actions going into the braking zone of turn one. This caused Ricciardo to rear-end Verstappen and forced both drivers to retire out of the race.
2. Sebastian Vettel vs Lewis Hamilton (2017)
In the inaugural Azerbaijan Grand Prix, a safety car was deployed when Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat retired on lap 10.
The safety car was out until lap 19, when it was recalled to the pits. This left Lewis Hamilton (race leader at the time) to take control of pacing the field. However, Sebastian Vettel – who was behind Hamilton – didn’t expect the Mercedes to slow down and rear-ended the Silver Arrow.
Angry about potential front-wing damage and suspected brake testing, Vettel purposefully drove into the side of Hamilton. This resulted in a 10-second stop/go penalty for the German Ferrari driver, and put him fourth when the race finished.
Thus, the ‘he brake tested me’ meme was born.
3. Romain Grosjean Safety Car Crash (2018)
After Red Bull’s Ricciardo and Verstappen retired out of the race on lap 40, the safety car was deployed to remove the two stranded RB14’s.
As vital tyre temperatures start to fall behind the safety car, drivers weave to produce much-needed heat and energy through the wheels. However, Haas’ Romain Grosjean accidentally lost the back end of his VF-18 as he was driving through the second sector.
The Frenchman couldn’t catch the car and slid into the barrier – despite his engineer’s incorrect claim that Sauber driver, Marcus Ericsson, hit him.
This strange event became the origin of the ‘I think Ericsson hit us’ meme.
4. Esteban Ocon’s Shunt (2018)
The 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix was a short one for French driver, Esteban Ocon, as he drove for Force India at the time.
He hadn’t even gotten to turn four before the French driver was forced to retire from the race as he was shunted into the barrier at turn three.
Ocon turned in to take the apex of the corner but failed to spot the red Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen on the inside line. As a result, the ferrari punted the Frenchman’s VJM11 into the barrier on the exit of turn three.
5. Fernando Alonso’s Double Puncture (2018)
Amongst the first lap chaos that saw Ocon being forced to retire, the 2018 grand prix was one Fernando Alonso wouldn’t have expected to finish.
On the inside line, racing towards turn three, Alonso was the unfortunate victim of a two-wheel puncture. Sergey Sirotkin, Williams, was sandwiched in between Alonso’s McLaren and Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault.
After Sirotkin made brief contact with Hulkenbergs R.S.18, he went into the side of Alonso and punctured the McLaren’s front and rear right tyres. However, the Spaniard refused to stop and finished the race in seventh.
Do you have a memorable moment from the Azerbaijan Grand Prix over the years? Let me know in the comments!