Carlos Sainz (Hydraulics, Lap 9): 7/10
Happily there were no notable mistakes or errors from Carlos Sainz this weekend and it was a perfectly composed performance from the Spaniard in Baku. Perhaps too much so: is he having to drive slightly within himself and play safe to avoid a recurrence of those costly mishaps earlier in the season? It feels like he's dropping away from the top three (Charles Leclerc, Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen) with each passing race. The one time he really did try and push it - with his final run in qualifying after claiming provisional pole with his first - he got it wrong and the opportunity passed, leaving him starting the race fourth on the grid. Fourth is where he had been pretty much all weekend, and then where he stayed for the first eight laps of the race on Sunday, before the car suddenly died on him. And that was the end of that.
Charles Leclerc (Pole, Power Unit, Lap 21): 8.5/10
Charles Leclerc has been on pole six times in eight races in 2022 now, an impressive achievement by anyone's reckoning. But only the first two of those (Bahrain and Melbourne) went on to yield race victories. Every other weekend has belonged to Red Bull, and so there was a sense of determination if not a little tinge of desperation to do something about the situation this weekend in Baku. Leclerc had a prolonged tug of war battle with Sergio Perez about who owned the top spot on the timesheets in practice, and while Perez came out of that on top, a remarkable final lap in qualifying ensured he would start at the front on Sunday. However at the start of the race he lost the lead to Perez when he ran wide and locked up into the first corner, and while he was back in front after quick reactions to an early Virtual Safety Car allowed him a 'free' pit stop, it still looked like the Red Bulls would come out of it with the upper hand. We never found out for sure: the Ferrari power unit then blew up, a massive body blow to Leclerc's title hopes.