After two calamitous GP2 races in Baku, the stage was set for a thrilling and incident-filled inaugural formula one battle on the Azerbaijani streets.
But the excitement did not materialise.
That was partly due to the fact that, with Ferrari and Red Bull having closed the gap in the previous three races, Mercedes’ dominance was peerless in Baku.
“It’s like the track was designed for Mercedes,” complained Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, referring to the 2 kilometre long straight.
But the energy drink-owned team also struggled notably on Sunday with tyre management: an issue Horner said Red Bull must now resolve “as a matter of priority”.
Ferrari was notably also not on Mercedes’ pace all weekend in Baku, but it was the lack of action up and down the field that was so different to what had been seen in GP2.
“I think people who had bet on the number of safety cars lost a lot of money,” smiled Sebastian Vettel.
The German said he thinks the difference in “quality” between the F1 and GP2 field made the difference.
Winner Nico Rosberg agreed: “We’re all much more experienced and able to avoid incidents better, and we also learned a lot from what was going on in GP2 for sure, because we were watching and it was mayhem.”
Vettel said the fact there had been so much pre-race talk about safety at Baku – a wall-lined circuit that saw an incredible top speed of 376kph – also made a difference.
“I think there are some corners here where you don’t want to think about what happens if you get it wrong,” he said. “It definitely makes you more alert.
“I don’t think we were taking it easy, but equally you don’t take any stupid risks because it could end quite badly.”
It also seems apparent that drivers may have been warned by their respective teams to avoid the sort of chaos seen in GP2.
“The opposite of what I expected happened,” said Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne. “No safety car, no accidents.
“The drivers followed the instructions of the teams and avoided the incidents.”
And circuit architect Hermann Tilke told Auto Motor und Sport: “The drivers probably took a more conservative approach because they thought a finish would automatically mean a points finish.”