Lando Norris, Yuki Tsunoda content with points in F1 Azerbaijan GP, as Nyck de Vries takes blame for the incident.
In a grand prix where the Top 4 teams all finished in the Top 8 places, the remaining two points places were coveted for the drivers. For most of it, Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg held on it without having stopped in the F1 Azerbaijan GP.
They started from the pitlane and ran the hard tyres for entirety of the grand prix in the hope of a safety car period which never came. The likes of McLaren’s Norris and AlphaTauri’s Tusnoda were stuck behind them for most part of the race.
In with them was McLaren’s Oscar Piastri, who felt much better health wise after troubles all-weekend long. While Ocon created a good gap, Hulkenberg was reeled in by Norris, Tsunoda and Piastri before the German lost more places and pitted eventually.
For Norris and Tsunoda, it were welcome points in ninth and 10th which were the maximum they could have hoped for. They were the leading pair in the best of the rest battle behind the Top 4 teams. The Brit was happy to score in the race where they had updates.
“It didn’t make a difference really,” Norris said. “I would have finished P9 either way. Just a tough race, long, sat behind the cars with our straight-line speed, and just with quite a short DRS zone. Not just for us, but everyone it was just very, very difficult to overtake. We did the best we could.
“Ninth is all we can achieve at the minute. I try and go with the guys ahead and one lap later the tyres go off a cliff. It’s a challenge. We are little bit closer, this track has definitely helped us, but we will see how we are in Miami. It doesn’t feel any different inside the car but it is a step forward I’m just being honest with it.
“Everyone will probably say ‘yeah it felt mega’ but you don’t feel it. It’s such a small amount in every corner, the oversteer is a little bit less. It’s a step forward in terms of like efficiency, also a little bit. We weren’t expecting a bit step, and like we said Baku was not the track where we will show its potential. Miami we will maybe understand a bit more, and some of the high-speed corners, because that was more where it was aimed at,” summed up Norris.
In a year of a big step for Tsunoda, the Azerbaijan GP was another one where the Japanese scored again after a tough Saturday. “I would say the whole race was just behind the cars and one mistake easily lost a position so I really used a lot of concentration, but yeah the car was okay,” he said.
“I think especially straight-line speed while we improved a lot, we’re still suffering middle sector. But I think we kind of expected it, so good job everyone especially after Saturday. The mechanics did a fantastic job to repair everything so, yeah I am happy. I was expecting P8, P7, here, to be honest.
“But I feel I maximised the package, and we have to keep developing and improving, so hopefully one day we get to fight consistently like this,” summed up Tsunoda, who teammate Nyck de Vries took responsibility of an early wall hit which ended his race amid a difficult start to his full-time F1 career.
“The accident today was fully my mistake,” said de Vries. “It was very silly and unnecessary and that responsibility is on me. I am disappointed with myself but that’s the way it is. There are positives to take away from this weekend and I’ll try to look at them. I am happy to be racing again next week so I forget this weekend as soon as possible.”
Here’s Lando Norris passing Nico Hulkenberg: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/video.2023-azerbaijan-grand-prix-norris-battles-past-hulkenberg-for-final-points-place.1764605339858017660.html
Here’s Nyck de Vries crashing out: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/video.2023-azerbaijan-grand-prix-de-vries-clips-the-wall-and-triggers-a-safety-car-and-a-flurry-of-pit-stops.1764602627465599379.html
Here’s Max Verstappen, Christian Horner on pit call and more