Hamilton wins after Baku GP chaosposted in F129 | 04 | 2018

    LEWIS HAMILTON SNATCHED victory, te 63rd grand prix win of his Formula 1 career, in a dramatic, chaotic, action-packed Azerbaijan Grand Prix, which saw the two Red Bulls collide and take each other out of the race. Four-time world champ Hamilton was gifted victory after his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas suffered a puncture, when leading three laps from the end.

    The Finn had looked on course for his first win of the year, but that all changed when Daniel Ricciardo rear-ended red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen at Turn 1 in a battle for fourth.

    The race round the tight, unforgiving streets of Baku had started in a frenzied fashion, with two first-lap incidents triggering a safety car to clear substantial debris.

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    First Force India’s Esteban Ocon attacked the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, attempting to pass around the outside of Turn 2. That led to both cars running side-by-side down to Turn 3. Ocon turned in for the apex with Raikkonen almost completely alongside, and not surprisingly the contact catapulted the Force India into the wall. Retirement was immediate. Raikkonen, however, pitted for a new front wing, and battled through to amazingly finish second, 2.460secs behind Hamilton.

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    At the same time, the Williams of Sergey Sirotkin rear-ended Ocon’s team-mate Sergio Perez's also into Turn 2. On the exit of the corner, Sirotkin was then squeezed between the McLaren of Fernando Alonso McLaren on the left, and the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg on the right.

    In an instant chain of events, Hulkenberg clipped Sirotkin into Alonso. The impact broke the front-left of the Williams and again, immediate retirement. Alonso, somehow limped his McLaren back to the pits with shredded right-side tyres.

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    On the safety car restart, pole sitter Sebastian Vettel sensibly backed the field up in until the last possible moment before the final safety car line. The Ferrari driver then shot off and quickly established a comfortable lead over Hamilton. The Mercedes driver did claw the gap back to below four seconds, but then dropped back when he locked-up both front tyres on lap 21 of 51.

    Hamilton then pitted to fit the soft tyres as Vettel and Bottas, who was then running a distant third, extended their ultra-long first stint on the supersoft compound Pirellis. Vettel then pitted on lap 30, with Bottas staying out even longer on his softs. But while the Finn continued to perform strongly, the duel between the two Red Bulls erupted.

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    Through the first half of the race, Ricciardo was clearly faster than Verstappen through some parts of the circuit. The Dutchman though fended off the Aussie’s passing attempts. At one stage, the two cars made light contact exiting Turn 1. That though was just prequel to the big impact.

    With Verstappen still ahead after their pitstops, and Ricciardo again quicker, the Aussie picked up a huge tow on the run down to Turn 1. The Chinese Grand Prix winner first feigned to the right and then dived back to the inside. Verstappen then moved late to cover the move, and was slammed into as Ricciardo locked up.

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    The impact lifted Verstappen's car briefly into the air, before both battered and badly damaged Red Bulls slewed down the escape road. Retirement for both cars was immediate.

    There was further drama when, inexplicably, Romain Grosjean lost the rear of his Haas — when driving behind the safety car — warming his tyres on the straight from Turns 13 to 14. The Frenchman slammed into the wall from sixth position.

    When the safety car finally departed, there were just four laps remaining. Second-placed Vettel immediately lunged at Bottas on the restart but ran wide, slipping to fourth behind Hamilton and Raikkonen.

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    Bottas, who had delivered a fault-free race, quickly established a lead which put him out of DRS range. But there was further drama and heartbreak when the Finn ran over debris finishing the lap and picked up a puncture, and retired.

    Mercedes team-mate Hamilton then inherited the lead, ahead of Raikkonen. Perez then drafted Vettel, who was struggling with a flatspotted tyre, to score a shock podium for Force India. The result means Hamilton heads to Barcelona with a four-point lead in the championship.

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    Behind the top four, Carlos Sainz Jr scored his best result with Renault with a fifth place. His team-mate Nico Hulkenberg retired following an early crash.

    There were celebrations too at Sauber where Charles Leclerc scored the first points of his F1 career with a stunning drive to sixth, ahead of Alonso’s McLaren, and the Williams of Lance Stroll in eighth, the latter recovering from requiring a new front wing after a first lap incident.

    The top 10 was rounded out by McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne and Toro Rosso's Brendon Hartley, who also scored his first F1 point.

    Formula 1 — Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Baku City Circuit (Result):

    1. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport 51 laps, 1hr 43m 44.291s

    2. Kimi Raikkonen FIN Scuderia Ferrari +2.460s

    3. Sergio Perez MEX Sahara Force India F1 Team +4.024s

    4. Sebastian Vettel GER Scuderia Ferrari +5.329s

    5. Carlos Sainz Jr. ESP Renault Sport Formula One Team +7.515s

    6. Charles Leclerc MON Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team +9.158s

    7. Fernando Alonso ESP McLaren F1 Team +10.931s

    8. Stoffel Vandoorne BEL McLaren F1 Team +12.546s

    9. Lance Stroll CAN Williams Martini Racing +14.152s

    10. Brendon Hartley NZL Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda +18.030s

    11. Marcus Ericsson SWE Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team +18.512s

    12. Pierre Gasly FRA Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda +24.720s

    13. Kevin Magnussen DEN Haas F1 Team +30.663s

    Retired:

    Valtteri Bottas FIN Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport 48 laps

    Romain Grosjean FRA Haas F1 Team 42 laps

    Max Verstappen NED Aston Martin Red Bull Racing 39 laps

    Daniel Ricciardo AUS Aston Martin Red Bull Racing 39 laps

    Nico Hulkenberg GER Renault Sport Formula One Team 10 laps

    Esteban Ocon FRA Sahara Force India F1 Team 0 laps

    Sergey Sirotkin RUS Williams Martini Racing 0 laps

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    Jim McGill

     

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