With the weekend taking its toll on drivers, the race again could be one of the most important of the season, firstly with Nico Rosberg starting from pole and Lewis Hamilton starting from the midfield in 10th. Others which were burned by the circuit included Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz who would take gearbox penalties.
As usual the top ten are on the supersoft tyres, with Pirelli expecting it to be a one stop race. Nico Hulkenberg, Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson would start on the soft tyre though, going on the different strategy call.
The cars lined up on the grid, and with the lights turning off the race started. It was a great start by Rosberg and Ricciardo. The were collisions at the back, but Perez was the winner just behind the Ferrari drivers. Hamilton got ahead of the Haas into the chicane. Verstappen was closing on the back of Kvyat in the Toro Rosso. Rosberg had pulled away at the front. Verstappen had made the move on Kvyat on the main straight.
Bottas closed in on Kvyat on lap 2, with Hamilton closing in on the pair of them. The Williams driver got ahead down the back straight, with Hamilton right on the back of the Toro Rosso.
At the start of lap 4, Vettel went wide at the first corner, while Hamilton made the move on Kvyat, who then had Grosjean on the back of him into turn 3. The Haas driver ahead of the Toro Rosso, and falling back all the time. Bottas immediately went on to pass Verstappen for seventh. At the front there was a large gap, while Verstappen, Bottas and Hamilton were all together at the first corner. The Dutchman was then attacked by Grosjean.
The order on lap 5 was Rosberg, Ricciardo, Vettel, Raikkonen and Perez. Ricciardo was struggling in second, with Vettel making an easy move into the first corner on lap 6. Perez was attacking Raikkonen.
Verstappen stopped on lap 6, along with Alonso in the McLaren who was just outside the top ten. With Ricciardo slow, he was pushing Raikkonen into Perez in fifth. Bottas was also closing in behind. Sainz and Kvyat also pitted.
Ricciardo pitted on lap 7, the first of the leaders and took a set of the soft tyres on the Red Bull. Bottas had closed on Massa with Hamilton behind the Williams pair.
The first retirement of the race was Kvyat on lap 8 in the Toro Rosso. On the track and Hamilton attacked Bottas into the first corner, but couldn’t make it stick, while Massa pitted for soft tyres. The Williams came out just ahead of Gutierrez and Palmer. The Renault driver getting into 13th place.
Raikkonen pitted on lap 8, while Vettel was given a call from the team instructing him to pit despite him saying he was happy with the pace. Raikkonen came out in front of Felipe Massa.
Both Bottas and Hamilton were catching Perez by lap 9. Vettel remained out on the circuit. Ricciardo made a move on Wehrlein for 8th place, the Manor currently in the top 10 having not pitted. The Red Bull also got ahead of Grosjean who was falling back and holding back the German. Raikkonen was also closing in on the pair of them.
At the front, Rosberg set the fastest lap of the race so far, building his lead. Hamilton closed in on Bottas and made the move stick into the first corner. Raikkonen tried to do the same on Wehrlein, but could only do it in turn 2. It was the same the next lap for Rosberg, now into the 1:49’s and a fourteen second lead for the Mercedes.
Massa overtook Wehrlein into the first corner, with Hamilton closing in on Perez. Raikkonen was also announced to have crossed the pit entry line – an easy penalty if correct. Ricciardo got ahead of Hulkenberg for 6th, while Raikkonen set the fastest lap of the race, although only slightly faster than Rosberg at the front.
Raikkonen got a five second penalty, while further back down the order Werhlein was holding up Verstappen with Ericsson in the middle of the pair. Verstappen got ahead of the Sauber in the first corner on lap 15. He made the same move a lap later on Wehrlein. Hamilton complained over the radio that he had vibrations through the brakes.
Raikkonen was on a charge though, closing up on the Hamilton and Perez battle with a pit stop in hand on the pair.
Hamilton pitted on lap 16, while Raikkonen went round the outside of Nico Hulkenberg. Hamilton came out in front of Verstappen.
The order on lap 17 – Rosberg, Vettel, Perez and Bottas, although the Force India driver stopped at the end of the lap. The Force India had a good inlap and came out ahead of Lewis Hamilton, the soft tyre for the Mexican. Jenson Button had a quiet afternoon so far, waiting to get ahead of Wehrlein, with Alonso just a place up the road.
Ricciardo had also closed in on the back of the yet-to-stop Bottas with Kimi Raikkonen right on the back of the Australian. Using the tow down the straight Raikkonen made his way through to fourth. Perez was also right on the back of Massa, with Hamilton just behind in 9th. Hulkenberg was being caught by the whole group as well in 6th. Perez got ahead of Massa on the main straight. Bottas pitted on the same lap for his first stop, coming out ahead of Verstappen, while Hamilton got ahead of Massa.
Vettel pitted on lap 21, putting on a set of the soft compound tyres. Hulkenberg also stopped on the same lap, releasing Perez with Hamilton still on his tyre. The Ferrari came out ahead of Ricciardo. Verstappen came in and took the medium tyre, the first time we had seen that.
Rosberg pitted on lap 22, a very quick 2.5 second stop for the Mercedes team, with the leader taking a set of the soft tyres. Further back, Ricciardo was being caught by Perez down the straight, an easy pass on the Red Bull with Hamilton making it ahead down the inside into the first corner. Sainz had got up to 9th, with a train behind him including the two McLarens and Nasr and Hulkenberg.
Ricciardo pitted on lap 23, coming out behind that whole train and a set of the medium tyre. Hulkenberg overtook Nasr, putting a gap between them and then overtook Jenson Button on the main straight. Ricciardo also got ahead of Ericsson, with Button the next on his radar. Sainz was now leading that train.
At the front of the field, Nico Rosberg set another fastest lap of the race, further extending his lead, a nineteen second lead for the German.
Alonso pitted on lap 25, with Button losing a place to Ricciardo, making progress after his pitstop. Vettel was also closing in on his teammate, with different strategies. Hulkenberg made an easy move on Sainz Jr for eighth, while Jenson Button pitted as well, with Felipe Nasr behind.
Ricciardo got ahead of Sainz into the first corner on lap 27, while Alonso got ahead of Gutierrez into turn 3 further back in the field.
With the Ferrari drivers on different strategies, the cars were swapped on lap 28, while Sainz also stopped and came out just ahead of Jenson Button. The McLaren driver made a move on the Toro Rosso and got ahead. The Spaniard down to 16th.
Massa pitted on lap 29 for a set of the softs, a two stop for the Williams and came out behind Max Verstappen. Vettel was 18 seconds behind Rosberg, while setting the fastest lap of the race after overtaking his teammate.
Wehrlein made his first pit stop on lap 30 in the Manor, after starting on the soft tyre bumping him down the order. Button also got ahead of Palmer into the first corner. Sainz also made a very easy move on Renault on the very next lap.
Hamilton was complaining about his regeneration, with Lewis not understanding the hints given by the team. Perez was also closing in on Raikkonen, and very nearly hit the wall at turn 8.
Carlos Sainz retired on lap 33, a double retirement for Toro Rosso in Baku with another possible suspension problem.
Hamilton was still battling with the power modes in his car, although the team told him clearly over the radio they couldn’t tell him what the fix would be.
Button had a good slipstream on Alonso for 12th on lap 38, the tyres on the British drivers car in a much better state. Perez also closed in on the back of Raikkonen, just a three second gap. Felipe Nasr got ahead of Alonso the very next lap.
Wehrlein stopped on lap 41, with the Manor driver saying over the radio that he had no brakes. Grosjean also got ahead of Alonso into the first corner, with the McLaren driver getting back past in turn 2, and Grosjean took the place back in turn 3. He was also lapped by Rosberg in the process.
Hamilton started to make a move on lap 43, with the engine problems behind him he set the fastest lap of the race, although 14 seconds behind Perez with only seven lap remaining. Alonso also retired on the same lap, with the team advising him that the problem was getting worse, at the same time Button overtook Magnussen in 11th.
One of the closest battles on the circuit at the end of the race was between Hulkenberg and Ricciardo for seventh place. Verstappen got ahead of Massa for 9th place in a move his teammate couldn’t make.
Kimi had a similar argument with the team as Hamilton had, with the Finnish driver wanting to know if they had the same problem as the last race.
Ricciardo gained on lap 48, and got ahead of Hulkenberg into the first corner and staying ahead, Max Verstappen had also started to close in on the pair as well. Perez had also closed in on Raikkonen, although the Ferrari would still have a five second penalty.
Verstappen got on the back of Hulkenberg very quickly, the Red Bull driver making an easy pass into the first corner on lap 50. Perez made the move on Raikkonen the very next lap, cementing his podium position for Force India.
The race was a walk in the park for Rosberg though who was unchallenged for the whole afternoon going on to take his fifth win this season. Second place was Sebastian Vettel, with Perez in third for Force India.