Talking points: Who was to blame for the Red Bull collision in Baku?

An unpredictable start to the 2018 season (2:44)

Jennie Gow and Maurice Hamilton discuss how the season has been going so far, where incidents during the races have paved the way for unpredictable winners. (2:44)

There was plenty to talk about following the chaotic Azerbaijan Grand Prix, so we've tasked Laurence Edmondson (F1 editor), Nate Saunders (F1 deputy editor) and ESPN columnists Kate Walker and Maurice Hamilton with giving their opinions on the main talking points.

Should Red Bull have intervened earlier to stop Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo from racing?

KW: I don't think a team should really intervene beyond the repeated exhortations to keep it clean that we heard on the radio in Baku. There's a limit to the extent to which racers will listen when you tell them to stop, as RBR learned all too well with multi-21 all those years ago. The boys were asked to keep it clean, and they did until they didn't.

MH: They're damned if they do and damned if they don't. I'm all in favour of the way Red Bull always allow them to race but, in this instance, you could see it heading towards the inevitable as a very intense fight over the pecking order was being sorted out. After three-quarter distance (at the time of the final stops) they should have stepped in. But I wouldn't like to be the one making that call...

LE: With the benefit of hindsight, the answer seems obvious. But imagine if Red Bull had asked Ricciardo not to race Verstappen after his final pit stop had seen him shuffled behind his teammate! I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have listened anyway, and then you've got a whole different controversy on your hands. Red Bull now needs to set some clear ground rules -- and Niki Lauda's suggestion of making the drivers pay for any damage they cause seems like a good starting point.

NS: Yes. I'm all for hard racing, but this wasn't a collision that came out of nowhere -- the pair had banged wheels earlier in the race and had nearly put each other in the wall. The last message we heard to Daniel Ricciardo before the collision was 'let's get him!' -- hardly the tone of a team looking to bring home a decent haul of points.

Red Bull said both drivers were to blame. Do you agree?

KW: No. Max Verstappen -- the man for whom the Verstappen rule was named, don't forget -- was weaving under braking. Daniel kept it clean, and was unlucky to have to pay for his teammate's sins. But Max is signed up long-term, and Daniel's sniffing around at the end of this year, so the team need to be as diplomatic as possible.

MH: Yes - but I'd say it was 70 percent Verstappen and 30 Ricciardo. Max's two moves were more than marginal and Daniel -- even allowing for his phenomenal control under braking -- probably wouldn't have made it round the corner. Saying that, RB probably urged their drivers to put their hands up, not to argue in front of the stewards and avoid further penalties. A smart move.

LE: Sure, Ricciardo was being aggressive by attacking on the inside, but it was Verstappen who caused the collision by making a second move under braking once his teammate had committed. Back in 2016 the "Verstappen rule" was introduced to the regulations to specifically outlawed such behaviour, and for good reason. Although moving under braking is no longer detailed in the sporting regs, it doesn't make the practice any less dangerous. Had Verstappen not made that final movement back to the inside, the accident wouldn't have happened.

NS: Yes. As the stewards' verdict said, Max Verstappen's indecisive drift right and then left triggered Ricciardo's move, but the Australian's attempt looked uncharacteristically clumsy -- he barrelled in when the gap to the left did not appear big enough for a pass.

Will McLaren make a step forward in Spain?

KW: Given their shambolic past few years and sub-par start to this season, it would be good to see McLaren regain some momentum with their '2018 car' debuting in Catalunya. But it's become a little boy who cried wolf -- the car is always about to get better yet never does, so I won't be holding my breath for a strong weekend for Woking. Here's hoping I'm wrong.

MH: They will have an upgrade package -- but so will everyone else in that incredibly tight midfield. Barcelona will give us a good yardstick for team comparisons and it's hard to see McLaren getting rid overnight of what appears to be an inherent drag problem. Alonso, of course, will drive the wheels off the thing at home. But if he struggles, I imagine the debriefs will be colourful.

LE: This upgrade has been in the pipeline since before the start of the season, but news of a major technical reshuffle back in Woking suggests even the team doesn't have much confidence in the direction of development. Also beware of false dawns. The next two rounds should suit the MCL33, but it might be two steps forward in Spain and Monaco before two steps back in Canada and France.

NS: Given the resources available to the team, there can be no excuses if it fails to move up the order in Spain. We've heard all about the prowess of its chassis in recent times. This race will likely define the rest of McLaren's season.

Which driver has impressed you most over the opening four races?

KW: For me it's a toss up between Valtteri Bottas and Charles Leclerc at completely opposite ends of the grid. Valtteri may have had victory cruelly snatched from him on Sunday, but beyond that bit of debris the Finn delivered an absolutely sterling performance, driving well and capitalising on strategy. Before Baku, Bottas was better able to eke performance out of the W09 on race days, and outqualified his teammate more than anyone expected. He's been doing brilliantly. As for Leclerc, putting a Sauber in P6 is a sterling achievement, and one that will make a serious difference to the Swiss racers' ultimate championship position. More please!

MH: Bottas has done a very good job, recovering from a Melbourne shunt that could have been a mental setback given just how close it is at the front. You could argue that he should have had a go on the last lap in Bahrain but, overall, he's been very unlucky and, so far, done a better job than his team-mate. It's a crucial time, career-wise, and he's rising to the occasion.

LE: Given the car at his disposal, it has to be Fernando Alonso. Clearly the McLaren is lacking one-lap pace (it has yet to qualify in the top ten) but he is still sixth -- yes, sixth -- in the drivers' championship, and just nine points off Daniel Ricciardo in fifth. He is one of just three drivers to have scored points at every round and even scored in Baku despite a double puncture on the opening lap and significant damage to his car. Put him in a Mercedes or Ferrari and he'd be leading the championship.

NS: Until his error in Baku, this would have been Nico Hulkenberg. I'll go Sebastian Vettel instead. His performances this year have been so impressive, I would argue he's driving close to his 2013 level at the moment. The on-board shots of his three pole laps this year have been utterly tremendous. He's been unlucky not to win the last two races and without the intervention of Max Verstappen in China he would probably still be leading the championship.

Is Baku the most exciting circuit on the calendar?

KW: No, because of the absolute snorefest we had to suffer through in the first year. It's certainly a good track, and even good tracks can bring about dull races, but sectors one and three are pretty dreary -- it's sector two that gives Baku all of its sex appeal.

MH: It's certainly one of them. I've always loved street circuits -- and this one has overtaking! It didn't look that way when the drivers applied excessive caution after seeing the GP2 chaos first time out in 2016, but now they're really going for it. The presence of concrete walls cranks up the entertainment value as mistakes are punished -- unlike the wide runoffs and official 'slap on the wrist' for exceeding track limits elsewhere.

LE: As long as there is a Safety Car restart there is going to be carnage in Baku. As soon as the tyre temperatures drop, incidents start breeding incidents and that's exactly what we've seen at the last two races there. I'm also still pumped from my trip down to Turn 8 during Friday practice and the precision it required to thread 1000bhp between a medieval wall on the left and a pile of Tec-Pro barriers on the right. Bowser's Castle has nothing on this place!

NS: Clearly, it's a tremendous venue for an entertaining grand prix race -- the characteristics of a street circuit, but with good overtaking opportunities and the potential for drama. It's hard to argue against the last two races there, so I would say yes. However, the layout of the circuit concerns me: I fear we are one big accident away from seeing it in a very different light.