Ricciardo wins chaotic Baku race as title rivals clashed

Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo was victorious in a chaotic Azerbaijan Grand Prix featuring Formula 1 title rivals Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton controversially clashing behind the Safety Car.

Hamilton and Vettel had a on-track run-in while the race was being neutralised, earning Vettel an 10-second penalty that would have given Hamilton a comfortable cruise to victory had the headrest on the Mercedes not come close.

Those dramas left Ricciardo, who qualified tenth position and looked well and truly out of contention after stopping early to have debris cleared out of a brake duct, in position to take his fifth race victory.

Ricciardo headed home Valtteri Bottas and Williams driver Lance Stroll, who picked up a maiden podium just two weeks after his first Formula 1 points finish in Montreal.

Bottas had been a lap down after a first-lap collision with fellow Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen but was allowed to unlap himself during one of the race’s many interruptions.

Mayhem ahead allowed Valtteri to find his way into third, and he reeled in Stroll before inching ahead of the Williams in a near-photo-finish for second.

The Bottas and Raikkonen clash happened as the Ferrari got ahead of him for second into Turn 2 on lap one after the Mercedes lost momentum with wheelspin out of the first corner.

Bottas kept to the inside line, bounced off the kerb and into Raikkonen, who tagged the wall but continued in fifth while Bottas limped to the pits.

That allowed Vettel into second position behind Hamilton, and he was trailing by three seconds when the race’s first Safety Car appeared on lap 11 of 51 as Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso parked on track.

Max Verstappen was pressuring Sergio Perez for third at this point, but had to retire with yet another engine issue.

The safety lasted for several laps and allowed all the leading runners to swap their super-softs for softs.

Hamilton sped up early on the main straight for the lap 16 restart and immediately established a lead over Vettel, who had to fend off pressure from Perez, while Raikkonen fell behind Felipe Massa and Esteban Ocon to sixth.

The race was immediately suspended again due to debris in several parts of the circuit, and another chaotic restart followed a few laps later.

First, Vettel made contact with the rear of Hamilton’s car as the leader tried to back the pack up for the restart.

Vettel was furious, pulling alongside Hamilton and angrily gesticulating at his rival on the exit of Turn 15 – as his Ferrari whacked against the side of the Mercedes.

Vettel then had to fend off Massa and Perez into Turn 1, although he kept position successfully again.

Instead, there was drama for the Force Indias, as Ocon tried to edge past Perez on exit of Turn 2 but made violent contact, with Raikkonen picking up a damaging puncture from their debris.

Red flags eventually came out this time. Perez and Raikkonen required long periods in the garage for repairs, while Ocon dropped to the back.

At the restart after a 20-minute stoppage, Hamilton and Vettel – now back on super-softs – maintained position with relative ease, as Ricciardo dived into third past both Stroll and Massa, who retired due to a broken rear damper shortly afterwards.

That overtake was crucial for Ricciardo as soon afterwards Hamilton was called to the pits for a loose headrest to be replaced and Vettel’s 10-second stop-go penalty was applied.

Ricciardo was left free to lead to the finish, while Vettel and Hamilton, now in that order, fought back through the field in tandem.

But they could do no better than fourth and fifth, catching the Bottas and Stroll battle on the final lap.

Ocon and Haas driver Magnussen had both run in a podium position after the red flag, but were shuffled back to sixth and seventh in the end.

Carlos Sainz recovered from a first-lap spin – that he blamed on team-mate Kvyat rejoining from the run-off area – to take eighth, with Fernando Alonso scoring McLaren-Honda’s first points of the season in ninth.

The Sauber of Pascal Wehrlein took tenth after a battle with team-mate Marcus Ericsson that included contact before the team asked Ericsson to let Wehrlein through as Stoffel Vandoorne gained on them on fresh tyres.

Vandoorne could not pass either Sauber and finished in P12.

Romain Grosjean was a lap down in P13 due to braking problems.

Raikkonen and Perez’s repaired cars were eventually retired, while Jolyon Palmer went out very early with engine problems.

So a dramatic and exciting Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Full of incidents with the championship contenders colliding into one another. A popular winning thanks to the honey badger and brilliant result for the Stroll, the first Canadian podium result since Jacques Villeneuve in 2001.

As for Alonso and McLaren-Honda. Finally, a points finish with ninth. The chaos certainly helped Fernando with this result but it can be taken as a positive step towards competitiveness.

Congratulations Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull Racing in winning the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Suffered an issue during the race but came back fighting and taking a shocking victory. That’s Aussie grit!

Azerbaijan Grand Prix, race results after 51 laps:

1    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    2h03m55.573s
2    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    3.904s
3    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    4.009s
4    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    5.976s
5    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    6.188s
6    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    30.298s
7    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    41.753s
8    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    49.400s
9    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    59.551s
10    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    1m29.093s
11    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m31.794s
12    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    1m32.160s
13    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1 Lap
14    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    Not running
–    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    Retirement
–    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    Retirement
–    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    Accident
–    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    Retirement
–    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    Retirement
–    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    Retirement

Drivers’ standings:

1    Sebastian Vettel    153
2    Lewis Hamilton    139
3    Valtteri Bottas    111
4    Daniel Ricciardo    92
5    Kimi Raikkonen    73
6    Max Verstappen    45
7    Sergio Perez    44
8    Esteban Ocon    35
9    Carlos Sainz    29
10    Felipe Massa    20
11    Nico Hulkenberg    18
12    Lance Stroll    17
13    Kevin Magnussen    11
14    Romain Grosjean    10
15    Pascal Wehrlein    5
16    Daniil Kvyat    4
17    Fernando Alonso    2
18    Jolyon Palmer    0
19    Marcus Ericsson    0
20    Stoffel Vandoorne    0
21    Antonio Giovinazzi    0

Constructors’ standings:

1    Mercedes    250
2    Ferrari    226
3    Red Bull-Renault    137
4    Force India-Mercedes    79
5    Williams-Mercedes    37
6    Toro Rosso-Renault    33
7    Haas-Ferrari    21
8    Renault    18
9    Sauber-Ferrari    5
10    McLaren/Honda    2

7 thoughts to “Ricciardo wins chaotic Baku race as title rivals clashed”

  1. Azerbaijan Grand Prix race report as reviewed by Formula1.com.

    Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo won a rollercoaster Grand Prix in Azerbaijan on Sunday, as rookie Lance Stroll took his maiden podium for Williams, pipped on the line by Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas. Championship leader Sebastian Vettel beat Lewis Hamilton to fourth place, despite being penalised for dangerous driving after hitting his Mercedes rival behind the safety car.

    It was an afternoon of non-stop drama at the Baku City Circuit, featuring no less than three safety-car periods and a red-flag race stoppage.

    Ricciardo might well have sniggered to himself as he crossed the finish line. The Australian had gone from the back to the front after an early pit stop to have debris cleared from his brakes dropped him to 17th place, and was perfectly placed when leaders Hamilton and Vettel had to make unplanned pit stops after a clash under the safety car had left their entente cordiale well and truly broken.

    Hamilton had led Vettel easily until the 13th lap when the safety car was deployed for the first time to rescue Daniil Kvyat’s broken Toro Rosso.

    No sooner had the racing resumed on the 16th lap than it was sent out again because of debris, after the Force Indias had collided as Esteban Ocon made an aggressive Turn 2 pass on team mate Sergio Perez at the restart.

    This time the field bunched behind Bernd Maylander’s Mercedes until the 21st lap, during which time Hamilton had complained repeatedly that it was running too slowly, and then himself had a slow exit from Turn 16 on the 20th lap. Vettel, taken by surprise, hit him in the rear. Clearly believing Hamilton had done it on purpose, the German then pulled alongside and drove his Ferrari into the side of the Mercedes. He would subsequently receive a 10-second stop-and-go penalty from the stewards, something about which Hamilton was very unhappy.

    The race was red flagged on the 22nd lap so that all the debris could be cleared away, and teams were allowed to repair their cars. Ocon’s Force India just needed a new right rear wheel and tyres; Perez’s needed a new nose and front wing. At the same time Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari, under attack from countryman Bottas on the opening lap, had various bits of damage repaired. Both Perez and Raikkonen would retire later, each having been penalised for their teams working on their cars outside the fast lane in the pits.

    Ferrari also looked at the front of Vettel’s car and fitted a new nose, while Mercedes worked on damage to Hamilton’s diffuser.

    When the race was restarted behind the safety car after 23 minutes, Hamilton resumed the lead again from Vettel, as the Williams cars of Stroll and Massa had moved to third and fourth after the Force Indias’ coming together. Ricciardo, meanwhile, had recovered to fifth under the safety cars, and pulled off a stunning move to pass both Williams to take third by the first corner.

    Soon it became clear that Hamilton’s headrest had been incorrectly fitted during the red flag action, and after he made a couple of unsuccessful attempts to clamp it down, he was obliged to pit on the 31st lap to have a new one fitted.

    He dropped down to eighth, and when Vettel was given his penalty and eventually took it on the 33rd lap after continually asking what he had done that was dangerous, the Ferrari emerged just ahead of the Mercedes.

    So Ricciardo was now leading, laughing to himself all the way home to his fifth victory, in what he rightly described as ‘a crazy race’. Stroll kept him honest, pushing as hard as he dared in Williams’ best race since Spain 2012 when Pastor Maldonado scored his unlikely victory, as Bottas, the man who had collided with Raikkonen on the second corner and fallen to last place after pitting to have a punctured tyre replaced, was coming back like gangbusters. The Finn made full use of the ‘get out of jail’ card he’d been given under the safety cars, and just snatched second place from the young Canadian by a tenth of a second on the line.

    Behind him Vettel and Hamilton were powering along, the Englishman getting within two-tenths of the Ferrari as they crossed the finish line but having to settle for fifth place as Vettel increased his points lead to 14. No doubt they will have discussions later on.

    Ocon also got a reprieve and dragged his damaged car from way down the field to sixth, having run as high as third after the restart before the faster runners overwhelmed him, as Kevin Magnussen brought Haas more points with a good drive to seventh and Carlos Sainz recovered from a spin in Turn 1 on the opening lap to take eighth for Toro Rosso.

    Fernando Alonso finally opened McLaren’s account for the season with two points for ninth place and behind him the Sauber drivers Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson collided briefly on their way to 10th and 11th places, with McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne pushing the latter all the way home.

    Haas’s Romain Grosjean was the final finisher, as Raikkonen, Perez and Kvyat were joined on the retirements list by Massa with a broken damper, Max Verstappen with oil pressure problems in his Red Bull, Nico Hulkenberg who crashed his Renault, and his team mate Jolyon Palmer whose car broke early.

    This was the race of the season, when almost all of the top finishers were drivers who met misfortune early on, though it will undoubtedly be just as well remembered for the clash between Hamilton and Vettel which has soured their previously sporting battle.

    Roll on Austria in two weeks’ time!

  2. Lewis Hamilton has hit out at F1 World Championship rival Sebastian Vettel for swerving into him under safety car conditions in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, saying it sets a bad example for F1 and future generations.

    Hamilton finished fifth in Baku, following an extra pitstop to reattach a loose headrest, one spot behind Vettel, who received a 10-second stop/go penalty for their collision.

    Hamilton and Vettel were running 1-2 just before a restart, when Vettel ran into the back of Hamilton at Turn 15 – and accused him of brake-testing him.

    Vettel threw his hands into the air, then drew alongside Hamilton and swerved into the side of him. Hamilton fumed: “Vettel literally just came alongside and hit me.”

    After the race, Hamilton said: “It definitely sets a precedent, I think, within F1 and it also does for all the young kids that are watching us drive and conduct ourselves. And they’ve seen today how a four-time champion behaves.

    “And I think hopefully that doesn’t ripple into the younger categories.”

    When asked if he had brake-checked Vettel intentionally, Hamilton replied: “I didn’t. I controlled the pace.

    “Like all the other restarts, I slowed down in the same spot. He was obviously sleeping and drove into the back of me. That wasn’t, for me, an issue.

    “Driving alongside and deliberately driving into another driver and getting away pretty much scot-free as he still came fourth, I think that’s a disgrace. I think he disgraced himself today.”

    When told Vettel – who also received 3 penalty points on his racing licence – had said that the sport is for men, he replied: “If he wants to prove that he’s a man, I think we should do it out of the car face to face.

    “Driving dangerously which in any way can put another driver at risk… we were going slow, if we’d been going fast it could’ve been a lot worse.

    “Imagine all the young kids that are watching Formula 1 today and see that kind of behaviour from a four-time world champion. I think that says it all.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

  3. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel commented that his title rival Lewis Hamilton should have been penalised too after that bash during the Safety Car period. Motorsport.com has the full story.

    Sebastian Vettel believes Formula 1 title rival Lewis Hamilton should also have been penalised for their incident behind the safety car in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

    Vettel was given a 10-second stop/go penalty for dangerous driving after side-swiping Hamilton’s Mercedes as they prepared for the second restart in the Baku F1 race.

    The German was also awarded three penalty points for a total of nine over the past 12 months.

    Drivers get a one-race ban if they reach 12 penalty points.

    The Ferrari had hit the rear of the Mercedes moments before, which Vettel said was due to Hamilton brake-testing him.

    “It was quite obvious. I didn’t run into the back of him on purpose,” he told Channel 4.”I damaged my wing, I think he had a little bit of damage as well. Nothing that would have impacted on the race.

    “It’s just not the way to do it. He’s done it a couple of times. Afterwards his restart was really good. He surprised me and jumped me, so I don’t think it was necessary.

    “The problem is with me right behind, getting ready and all the other cars, then there’s a chain reaction. He did something similar a couple of years ago in China at a restart. It’s just not the way to do it.

    “I think it was very clear. In the end, we’re racing as men. I don’t have a radio to him. I think if I get a penalty then we should both get a penalty.”

    Vettel declined to answer direct questions on the second contact that occurred when he pulled alongside Hamilton to gesticulate at him.

    “We’re all grown-ups, we’re men,” said Vettel. “Emotions are running high in the car. We want to race wheel to wheel, but not when it’s [before] the restart.”

    He denied that the incident would make what has so far been a good-natured championship battle more fractious.

    “It’s still respectful. I don’t have a problem with him,” said Vettel.”I think it’s just one action today that was wrong and I think if I got penalised then he should get penalised.

    “Probably every Sunday in the Premier League you have referees blowing the whistle and some players agreeing and some disagreeing. That’s sport.

    “For sure 10 seconds is an awful long time when you stand there and you have nothing to do.”

  4. McLaren’s Fernando Alonso believes he would’ve won in Baku during a normal racing situation. Motorsport.com provides the detail.

    Fernando Alonso reckons that “in normal circumstances” he should have been in a position to win the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

    The Spaniard, starting on the back row after being handed 40 positions in grid penalties, took advantage of the chaos in front of him to climb up to fifth position before the halfway point of the race.

    From there, however, the Spaniard was unable to keep his rivals behind him and lost places until he dropped down to ninth, where he would end.

    With all the leading cars hitting problems at some point, Alonso believes that McLaren should have been in a position to win.

    “It was a race that in normal circumstances we should have won,” said Alonso, “because I was with [race winner Daniel] Ricciardo when the first safety car came out.

    “Hamilton lost his headrest, Vettel was penalised, both the Force Indias were out, Kimi retired…

    “So you are automatically in the top two or three, so we should have fought for victory, but unfortunately we are not in that position,” he added.

    Alonso, who had previously failed to score any points in 2017, admitted that all the incidents in front had benefitted him, and conceded he had never expected to finished in the points in Baku, where the long straight hurt McLaren due to its lack of engine power.

    “In our case everything worked in our favour,” he said. “It’s one of those days when you win places by elimination for free, but then it’s a shame we can’t keep it because of our current deficiencies.

    “Scoring two points in Baku was impossible to think [of] before coming here, so it’s welcome.”

    Alonso finished over 32 seconds in front of teammate Stoffel Vandoorne, who was 12th.

  5. After scoring his first points in Canada, Lance Stroll drove an impressive race to take third place at Baku. The rookie commented that this result should answered the criticism. Motorsport.com has the full story.

    Lance Stroll says he always shrugged off criticism of his performances as “just noise”, after taking his maiden podium in his eighth Formula 1 start in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

    A fortnight after breaking his F1 points duck with ninth on home ground in Montreal, Williams’s rookie signing kept his composure in a crazy Baku race to finish third – only losing second to recovering Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas in a photo-finish over the line.

    Asked if he thought the result would silence critics who felt he had been elevated to F1 too soon, reigning European Formula 3 champion Stroll replied: “I don’t think it proves a point. I don’t listen to that stuff, it is just noise.

    “I had it last year when I had the perfect year and this year when I had some tough times. I am just happy with myself. It is all just noise in the background, I don’t care.”

    Stroll becomes only the second driver in F1 history to take a podium finish while still a teenager, the 18-year-old 12 days older than Max Verstappen was when he broke that record by winning last year’s Spanish GP.

    “I am a bit lost for words,” said Stroll. “It was such an intense race, a crazy race, and so much happened, the red flag and hopping out the car and hopping back in and having to reset. It happened so quickly.

    “Today where we did well was to stay out of trouble, let some other drivers make mistakes and get to the end. I can’t describe how I feel, it is beyond amazing.

    “Yesterday was quite amazing already, I had a few races where Saturdays didn’t go well and got back into Q3 for first time since China, so today to get the podium is absolutely amazing.”

    Stroll conducted a testing programme in a 2014-vintage Williams to prepare himself for F1 last season, and is continuing that into the first part of this year.

    On Saturday Williams chief technical officer Paddy Lowe said a test in the 2014 machine at Austin after the Montreal race had helped Stroll make a set-up breakthrough.

    “Sometimes jumping F3 to F1 is quite big and it took time to try to understand,” said Stroll. “We took a different direction with the set-up, shifting away after Bahrain and from Barcelona taking a different direction with the car.

    “We came back to it this weekend and I am as competitive as at the beginning of the season, like in Bahrain and China where I was in Q3.

    “That set-up gives me more confidence with the car, I am able to drive the car now and push the car. It gives me confidence and comfort. I will keep working on things moving forward, it is not finished yet.

    “I can improve a lot, it just takes a bit of time. This year is a very different formula for me and I need to experience it, come back and figure this and that out.”

  6. Sergio Perez says the clash that ruined Force India’s podium chances in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix was “totally unacceptable for the team” – and firmly laid the blame at the door of teammate Esteban Ocon.

    The teammates collided just two weeks after Perez decided not to follow a team suggestion to allow Ocon past him in Montreal, in an attempt to chase down Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull.

    Following a safety car restart in Baku on Sunday, the Force Indias collided on the exit of Turn 2 while running fourth and fifth.

    All the cars in front of them were subsequently delayed, raising the possibility that their collision had ruined a double podium – or even race victory, as they were both running ahead of Ricciardo who went on to win.

    “Between us, we ruined a great opportunity for the team,” said Perez, who was forced to retire later with damage from their clash.

    “Actually I feel that I couldn’t have done anything to avoid the accident. I was next to the wall, and there was no room for me to go.

    “It’s a big shame, the way everything turned out, it was just over-aggressive. In all my career I’ve had teammates who have been hard but given enough room. What happened today is totally unacceptable for the team.

    “I think the way he raced today wasn’t right. I think he did didn’t have any logic.”

    Ocon went on to finish sixth, despite being forced to pit to replace a punctured tyre following the intra-team clash.

    He said: “I’m happy with the performance and disappointed with the potential we had. Obviously it’s never nice to have an incident like that in the race between me and Checo. I lost a lot of places, but still managed to get some points for the team.

    “He touched me after Turn 1, and then I was on the inside for Turn 2, and we touched again. Unfortunately, it’s racing and it happens sometimes.

    “For sure we will discuss it and it should not happen in the future.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

  7. FIA analysis showed Lewis Hamilton did not brake-test Sebastian Vettel. Motorsport.com has the full story.

    Stewards at F1’s Azerbaijan GP found no evidence in telemetry data of Lewis Hamilton either brake-testing or lifting off unexpectedly in his clash with Sebastian Vettel before Sunday’s second safety car restart.

    Although Vettel is adamant that he was brake-tested on the exit of Turn 15 prior to him making contact with the rear of the Mercedes, analysis of data from Hamilton’s car by the FIA showed no proof of that.

    The FIA investigation, which took place during the course of the race, threw up no suggestion that Hamilton had braked nor lifted off entirely.

    Furthermore, analysis of how Hamilton had behaved in the first safety car restart, and the one after the incident, showed that the British driver had behaved exactly the same at that point of the track as he prepared to get back up to racing speed.

    For with a long run up between the following Turn 16 and the safety car line, he had to back off to ensure that he did not break the rules by overtaking the safety car before he was allowed.

    Vettel remains adamant, however, that Hamilton did not behave in the right way and that he was brake tested.

    “Well we know the leader dictates the pace but we were exiting the corner,” said Vettel. “He was accelerating then he braked so much that I was braking as soon as I saw, but I couldn’t stop in time and ran into the back of him. I just think that wasn’t necessary.”

    Vettel was later handed a 10-second stop-go penalty for having driven in a ‘potentially dangerous’ manner when he banged wheels with Hamilton as he vented his anger at his world championship rival.

    Again, Vettel’s perception of what happened was in contrast to the FIA, whose analysis of footage showed that the German had turned into the Mercedes car.

    The stewards explained: “The Stewards examined video evidence which showed that car 5 drove alongside and then steered into car 44. The Stewards decide this manoeuvre was deemed potentially dangerous.”

    Speaking about that moment, Vettel said: “I drove alongside, then we had a little contact but I drove alongside mostly to raise my hand. I didn’t give him a finger or anything, I just wanted to tell because I can’t literally talk to him that that was not right.”

    Vettel was also given three penalty points for the incident with Hamilton, which means he now has a total of nine for the past 12 months.

    He is now just three points away from a race ban under F1’s totting up protocol, thanks to three other offences he committed in 2016.

    However, the two penalty points he got at last year’s British Grand Prix, for running Felipe Massa off the track, will be wiped away if he does nothing wrong in the next two races.

    With them due to expire on the Monday after the British Grand Prix, Vettel will need to ensure he does not get any more penalty points in either Austria or Britain.

    Vettel’s penalty points tally comes from:

    2016 British Grand Prix – running Felipe Massa off track (2 points)

    2016 Malaysian Grand Prix – causing first corner incident with Nico Rosberg (2 points)

    2016 Mexican Grand Prix – moving under braking (2 points)

    2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix – potentially dangerous move on Lewis Hamilton (3 points)

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