Azerbaijan GP team ratings: Red Bull impress as Alpine despair

·10-min read team ratings, Azerbaijan GP 2023. Credit: Alamy team ratings, Azerbaijan GP 2023. Credit: Alamy

As part of’s race coverage for the 2023 season, we will be providing team ratings for how each garage performed at every weekend.

For those of you familiar with our driver ratings, the format will largely be the same but with some key differences as to what ratings will be awarded for.

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To start, these ratings are focusing on the team away from the drivers so, as an example, Nyck de Vries’ incidents were not caused by AlphaTauri so their rating does not drop as a result.

We are mainly focused on not only strategy and pit stop performance but also the reliability of the car, but other than that, it should be exactly the same as you are already used to, so let’s dive in:

Red Bull 9.0

Red Bull showed their usual strategic decisiveness when they called Max Verstappen in at the end of Lap 10, which also had the benefit of possibly heading off Verstappen suffering the ignominy of being overtaken by Sergio Perez in a straight fight.

While that decisiveness actually ended up costing Verstappen positions as a result of the Safety Car being deployed moments later, it was simply a case of bad luck for the Milton Keynes-based squad as TV footage did initially suggest the car was intact with the engine running.

Continuing their usual ploy of concentrating on race pace as opposed to qualifying prowess, Red Bull had performance and reliability – the only misstep being on Verstappen’s side of the garage with a setup that he wasn’t fully happy with, a symptom of the Sprint weekend format.

Still the star performing team, despite these minor issues – how could they not be, on a weekend where they scored a dominant 1-2?

Ferrari 8.0

A much-improved showing from Ferrari on the streets of Baku, with Charles Leclerc showing some of their 2022 form once again by taking pole position for both races.

While powerless to fend off the Red Bulls for long, Leclerc played sensibly in the knowledge that he could do very little against the RB19s and got his head down to consolidate third place.

No strategic errors, no reliability problems, and an assured display from Leclerc’s side of the garage means it’s a strong score for Ferrari.

However, like Red Bull, one side of the garage was less happy with their car setup. Carlos Sainz was extremely unhappy with the handling of his car throughout the weekend, having gone the wrong direction entirely in Friday practice.

Sainz also handed Alonso an overtake that shouldn’t really have been on the cards as the race restarted after the Safety Car, although Alonso’s pace was such that he would have likely cleared his compatriot anyway.

Signs of encouragement for Ferrari in Baku, will Miami continue the upward momentum?

Aston Martin 7.5

It’s been a tremendous start to 2023 for Aston Martin, but the Silverstone-based squad had their first slightly wobbly weekend in Azerbaijan.

Plagued by a DRS issue that mystified the team, neither Fernando Alonso nor Lance Stroll could trouble the top five in qualifying, nor in the Sprint race.

But the team responded excellently on race day, with a strong start and some cunning overtaking from Alonso moving him into fourth place and, had the race been a lap or two longer, might have even continued his podium streak.

Stroll wasn’t far off either, although the Canadian made a critical error at the all-important corner leading into the third sector that handed Lewis Hamilton a free pass.

Aston Martin’s drivers are clearly working well together as a team, as borne out by the radio messages from both sides: Stroll confirming his willingness to sit back behind Alonso, with the Spaniard responding with a helpful suggestion on brake balance in a bid to help Stroll. Amusingly, Stroll’s critical error under braking came moments later…

Less positively for Aston Martin, their pit stops remain amongst the slowest of all: Alonso’s tyre swap took 4.74 seconds – the 21st-fastest (of 23) stop of the race. Stroll’s was only marginally better, coming in as the 17th-fastest stop.

Mercedes 7.0

Mercedes had a reasonably anonymous weekend in Azerbaijan, aside from George Russell’s incident with Max Verstappen in the Sprint.

The W14 may have had some upgraded parts fitted for the event, but both Hamilton and Russell struggled to keep pace with Ferrari and Aston Martin, let alone Red Bull.

Hamilton’s race was compromised badly by the timing of the Safety Car, having pitted at the end of Lap 9, but the British driver recovered well to slice past Russell and pounce on Stroll’s error to finish P6. Having latched onto Sainz’s DRS, fifth might have been possible with a slightly longer race.

Operationally and mechanically, Mercedes had a fine weekend, and both drivers performed as might be expected. However, the drag levels of the W14 are clearly worse than their immediate rivals, leading to a somewhat grim outcome as they powered along the huge straights of Baku.

McLaren 6.5

The first upgrade package of 2023 was applied to the MCL60 for Azerbaijan and, by all accounts, it looks to have netted them a clear step forward.

Both cars qualified in the top 10 – a particularly notable achievement from Oscar Piastri as the Australian struggled with debilitating food poisoning, with Lando Norris resuming in his vintage seventh place.

Experimenting with the Soft tyre in the Sprint proved the wrong choice for Norris, while Piastri secured a respectable 10th place – unfortunately going without a point given the structure for the shorter race.

The Grand Prix was a little underwhelming, with Norris’ race in particular compromised by the Safety Car timing before getting stuck behind Nico Hulkenberg.

Norris secured ninth place, with Piastri coming home in 11th. Norris’ pit stop ended up being the second-quickest of the Grand Prix, putting the Woking team’s pit skills in sharp focus. recommends

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Williams 6.0

Williams had a decent weekend in Baku, although leave with nothing to show for it.

Both drivers made Q2 in Qualifying and the Sprint Shootout, although Logan Sargeant blotted his copybook with a mistake that sent him slamming into the wall that cost him his SQ2 running.

With such a short turnaround until the Sprint race, it wasn’t surprising that Williams were unable to get his car fully repaired in time to make the start, while Albon put it a plucky drive to finish ninth – a points-scoring position had it been in the real race.

However, Albon wasn’t able to replicate the finish over the full distance as he struggled with some damage after a clash with a McLaren early on. No errors from the pit crew or the drivers on race day – it’s just outright performance the team are lacking right now.

Haas 5.0

Haas tried a roll of the dice with Nico Hulkenberg’s race, throwing on the Hard tyre and seeing whether they’d get lucky with a Safety Car or red flag in the final quarter.

It would usually be a canny call, given the propensity for such chaos in Baku, but luck was against Haas on this occasion as Hulkenberg pitted with two laps to go having gamely tried to keep his tyres alive as long as possible.

Kevin Magnussen finished 13th and was left bemoaning the straight-line performance of the Haas when caught in a DRS train, having been able to replace his front wing under the early Safety Car as he picked up damage on the first lap.

Haas registered the two slowest pitstops of the weekend, which was unsurprising given the front wing change necessary for Magnussen, but there was no such extenuating circumstances for Hulkenberg.

All in all, it was a weekend for Haas – neither good nor bad.

Alfa Romeo 4.0

Were Alfa Romeo in Baku?

Neither Zhou Guanyu nor Valtteri Bottas were able to trouble the top 10 over the weekend, with the team opting to roll the dice for the Sprint race by splitting strategies with Bottas on the Soft tyre while Zhou went for the Mediums.

Zhou’s Sprint result of 12th place was probably the team’s highlight of the weekend, as Bottas’ Soft tyre gamble didn’t work out at all en route to 16th.

Bottas’ weekend went from bad to worse on race day, as he picked up damage at the start and trundled around at the back. He finished 18th.

Zhou Guanyu fared a little better, but points never looked on the cards even before skyrocketing temperatures forced Alfa Romeo to retire his car within sight of the chequered flag.

AlphaTauri 3.5

Constant dramas for the AlphaTauri squad in Azerbaijan, mostly caused by their drivers making mistakes from the get-go on Friday.

Tsunoda hit the wall in qualifying to put himself on the back foot with wheel rim damage, while De Vries didn’t respond well to the pressure of the session as he hit the wall to end his day at Turn 3.

The pair battled amongst themselves during the Sprint race, only for Tsunoda’s car to be damaged when he was squeezed by De Vries at Turn 3 – leading to the Japanese driver’s hefty impact with the wall further around the lap.

Where AlphaTauri really let themselves down was performing the most cursory of checks on Tsunoda’s car when he pitted, failing to listen to his correct assessment that the car was badly damaged, and sending the car back out in an unsafe condition.

Their decision resulted in a Safety Car nullifying the excitement of the opening laps of the Sprint, and they were fined 5000 euro for that ill-judged call.

Tunoda put in a very measured drive on Sunday to claim a point, while De Vries continued his awful weekend by hitting the wall and bringing out the Safety Car.

Alpine 3.0

It was a toss-up between Alpine and AlphaTauri as to who had the worst weekend in Azerbaijan, with the Enstone team just edging it due to absolutely nothing going right.

Alpine had a catastrophically poor weekend, kicked off by a hydraulic leak and car fire for Pierre Gasly and a separate reliability issue for Esteban Ocon.

With not much pace on display, reliability continued to hamper Alpine on Saturday as an exhaust leak sprang on Gasly’s car while, on Ocon’s side of the garage, the setup was less than optimal – to the point where the team chose to break parc ferme conditions for both the Sprint and Grand Prix in order to try something else.

13th and 18th in the Sprint meant no points on Saturday, while Ocon opted for a ‘Hail Mary’ strategy by opting for the Hard tyre to kick off the Grand Prix. Like Hulkenberg, the strategy didn’t pay off and Ocon also had to deal with the fright of flying into the pits to be greeted by a wall of people leaping out of his way.

Gasly pitted for Hards on Lap 5, and pitted again on Lap 23 in a bid to try something different, finishing 14th at the chequered flag.

“It’s been a bitterly disappointing weekend for the team in Baku and we must not repeat this type of performance again,” team boss Otmar Szafnauer said afterward.

“We very much started on the backfoot on Friday and since then we were not able to make any kind of recovery in any of the sessions.

“We were quite far off on car set-up on Friday during practice and with such limited running – notably with some reliability issues on both cars – we left ourselves with a mountain to climb for the remainder of the weekend.

“We must limit these problems going forward and begin all Grand Prix weekends on the front-foot to make sure we give ourselves the best possible chance on Saturday and Sunday to score points.”

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