Nico Rosberg has won the inaugural Grand Prix at Baku, leading the race from start to finish. Sebastian Vettel finished a distant second, and he too was unthreatened in that position. Perhaps the happiest man on the podium was Sergio Perez, who followed up on his podium finish at Monaco some weeks earlier.
The race got off the a fairly normal start, with Rosberg retaining his lead, ahead of Ricciardo, Vettel and Raikkonen. Lewis Hamilton from tenth also didn't manage to make much progress, all mostly due to the short run to turn 1.
As early as lap 6, Verstappen was the first to pit, along with Alonso, Sainz and Kvyat. They all changed to a new set of softs.
At approximately the same time, Vettel made it past Ricciardo to take second place, followed by Ricciardo making his pitstop, one lap after his team mate Verstappen did.
By lap 10, all but the 5 first cars, and Palmer had pitted. Rosberg led the race by 13 seconds, followed by Vettel who also had 10 seconds in hand over Perez, Hamilton and Bottas. Palmer, who started from pits, ran in 13th position, on the new set of super softs he started the race with.
As Rosberg continued to serialise fastest laps, Lewis Hamilton pitted on lap 15 after complaining of a vibration due to a flat spotted right front. He too changed to soft, rejoining in 7th position. Kimi Raikkonen was meanwhile handed a 5-second time penalty for crossing the pit entry line one lap earlier.
By lap 22, it became obvious that Red Bull are not very much at ease at this track, suffering from higher degradation and lacking some top speed. Testimony of the difficult situation is Ricciardo getting past by Perez and Hamilton at the same time, while braking for turn 1.
Toro Rosso was somewhat in a similar situation, with Carlos Sainz in 8th backing up a large number of cars behind him. First was Alonso in 9th, followed by Button, Hulkenberg, Massa. Ricciardo joined that party after he made a second pitstop and changed to used medium compound tyres.
At the front, Vettel caught up with Raikkonen and was given an easy pass, moving him up again into second position, 17s down on race leader Rosberg. Behind Raikkonen, Perez followed at 4 seconds, with Hamilton another 6 seconds further down the road in 5th. Bottas was 6th, ahead of Hulkenberg, Ricciardo, Massa and Verstappen.
While at the front, positions appeared to be settled rapidly, Alonso and Button were battling it out for several laps past the halfway mark of the race, with Button eventually taking the upper hand. Alonso soon got passed by Nasr and Grosjean as well, before his engineer told him to box the car as "we can see the problem getting worse". He retired on lap 44, a few laps after Wehrlein parked his car after reporting his brakes were completely gone.
Towards the closing stages, Perez put up a challenge against Raikkonen, but was rightly told he didn't need to overtake the Finn, thanks to his earlier time penalty. Raikkonen and Hamilton on the other hand had some discussions with their race engineers, but both got told no information could be given (due to regulations that restrict radio transmissions).
At the start of the final lap, Perez still made it past Raikkonen with relative ease.
20 seconds later, Nico Rosberg took an easy victory, comfortably ahead of Vettel.
|1||6||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG||51||1:32:52.366||25|
|3||11||Sergio Perez||Force India Mercedes||51||+25.241s||15|
|5||44||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG||51||+56.335s||10|
|6||77||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Mercedes||51||+60.886s||8|
|7||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer||51||+69.229s||6|
|8||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer||51||+70.696s||4|
|9||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India Mercedes||51||+77.708s||2|
|10||19||Felipe Massa||Williams Mercedes||51||+85.375s||1|
|11||22||Jenson Button||McLaren Honda||51||+104.817s||0|
|12||12||Felipe Nasr||Sauber Ferrari||50||+1 lap||0|
|13||8||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||50||+1 lap||0|
|14||20||Kevin Magnussen||Renault||50||+1 lap||0|
|15||30||Jolyon Palmer||Renault||50||+1 lap||0|
|16||21||Esteban Gutierrez||Haas Ferrari||50||+1 lap||0|
|17||9||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber Ferrari||50||+1 lap||0|
|18||88||Rio Haryanto||MRT Mercedes||49||+2 laps||0|
|NC||14||Fernando Alonso||McLaren Honda||42||DNF||0|
|NC||94||Pascal Wehrlein||MRT Mercedes||39||DNF||0|
|NC||55||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso Ferrari||31||DNF||0|
|NC||26||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso Ferrari||6||DNF||0|