Hamilton takes Baku victory in a chaotic race

Lewis Hamilton scored his first victory of the season at a chaotic Azerbaijan Grand Prix, full of drama and incidents including the Red Bulls crashing into one another.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was on course to score a comfortable win before the race was changed when Daniel Ricciardo rear-ended team-mate Max Verstappen at Turn 1 in a battle for fourth.

Valtteri Bottas survived a lunge from Vettel into Turn 1 at the subsequent safety car restart and appeared to be heading for victory before a puncture handed Mercedes’ first win of the year to Hamilton, with Kimi Raikkonen second and Sergio Perez beating Vettel to a shock third.

The race started in crazy fashion after a pair of first-lap incidents triggered a safety car to clear substantial debris.

Esteban Ocon attacked Raikkonen and tried to pass the Ferrari around the outside of Turn 2, which led them to run side-by-side down to Turn 3.

Ocon turned in for the apex with Raikkonen almost completely alongside, and the ensuing contact pitched the Force India into the wall and out of the race and forced Raikkonen to pit for a new front wing. The incident will be investigated afterwards.

At the same moment, further back, Sergey Sirotkin rear-ended Perez’s Force India into Turn 2 and on the exit of the corner was squeezed between Fernando Alonso’s McLaren on the left and Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault on the right.

Hulkenberg clipped Sirotkin into Alonso, which broke the front-left of the Williams and forced Sirotkin to retire immediately as Alonso limped back to the pits with shredded right-side tyres.

Vettel backed the field up hugely at the restart and kept everyone bottled up until the last possible moment before the final safety car line.

He bolted clear and established a comfortable lead over Hamilton, who nudged the gap down below four seconds before locking up both front tyres on lap 21 of 51.

That forced Hamilton to change to soft tyres as Vettel and Bottas, who was running a distant third, extended an ultra-long first stint on supersofts.

Hamilton’s lack of a pace advantage on fresh, but harder, rubber allowed Vettel to stay out until lap 30 before taking on softs, but Bottas ran even longer.

Bottas was still circulating strongly on his original supersofts when a fraught battle between the two Red Bulls finally hit breaking point.

Ricciardo was quicker than Verstappen at various points through the first half of the race but was rebuffed several times, and the two even made light contact at one point exiting Turn 1 as Verstappen ran wide into Ricciardo after defending the inside line.

Verstappen lost the place into Turn 1 just after mid-distance but got back ahead by pitting a lap later than Ricciardo, then swiftly came under attack as Ricciardo picked up a huge tow on the run down to Turn 1.

Ricciardo feigned to the right and then dived back to the inside, but Verstappen covered it and was slammed into as Ricciardo locked up.

Verstappen’s car was lifted briefly into the air and both battered Red Bulls skated down the escape road into retirement. Game over.

The ensuing safety car was a lengthy affair, mainly because Romain Grosjean inexplicably lost the rear of his Haas warming his tyres on the straight from Turns 13 to 14 and slammed into the wall from sixth position.

That left four laps of green-flag racing, and Vettel lunged Bottas at the restart but locked up and ran wide, which dropped him to fourth behind Hamilton and Raikkonen.

Bottas bolted clear over the rest of the lap and was out of DRS range of Hamilton but ran over debris finishing the lap and cruelly picked up a left-rear puncture at the end of the start-finish straight.

That freed Hamilton into the lead with Raikkonen a comfortable second as Perez drafted Vettel, struggling with a flatspotted tyre, to score a shock podium despite Vettel’s efforts to retaliate. The result gives Hamilton a four-point championship lead.

Carlos Sainz Jr scored his best result with Renault in fifth after battling ahead of the Red Bulls early on with an excellent stint on ultrasofts. His team-mate Nico Hulkenberg had also been in this fight before an early crash.

Charles Leclerc scored the first points of his Formula 1 career with a stunning drive to sixth for Sauber, picking his way through the chaos of the opening lap and crucially clearing the Williams of Lance Stroll early on.

Stroll fell to eighth at the finish behind Alonso, who recovered from his torrid opening lap that left him needing a new front wing and gave him floor damage.

Stoffel Vandoorne gave McLaren another double-points finish in ninth, while Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley took the final place in the top 10 to bag his first Formula 1 point.

So a crazy race with overtaking, drama and crashes. Well done Baku on delivering an entertaining race with Lewis Hamilton taking victory. Now leading the championship over his rival Sebastian Vettel by 4 points.

As for the self-destruct moment with the Red Bulls. That was unfortunate but it was heading to the clash after so many close wheel-to-wheel moments between Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo. The end result is a double non-finish for the team.

Do feel sorry for Valtteri Bottas as the Mercedes driver was so close in scoring his first win. But a late puncture ruined the chance… So team-mate Hamilton benefitted and won.

Race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 51 1h43m44.291s
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 51 2.460s
3 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 51 4.024s
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 51 5.329s
5 Carlos Sainz Renault 51 7.515s
6 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 51 9.158s
7 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 51 10.931s
8 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 51 12.546s
9 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 51 14.152s
10 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda 51 18.030s
11 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 51 18.512s
12 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 51 24.720s
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 51 30.663s
14 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 48 Tyre
– Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 42 Spun off
– Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 39 Collision
– Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 39 Collision
– Nico Hulkenberg Renault 10 Spun off
– Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 0 Collision
– Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 0 Collision

Drivers’ standings:
1 Lewis Hamilton 70
2 Sebastian Vettel 66
3 Kimi Raikkonen 48
4 Valtteri Bottas 40
5 Daniel Ricciardo 37
6 Fernando Alonso 28
7 Nico Hulkenberg 22
8 Max Verstappen 18
9 Sergio Perez 15
10 Carlos Sainz 13
11 Pierre Gasly 12
12 Kevin Magnussen 11
13 Charles Leclerc 8
14 Stoffel Vandoorne 8
15 Lance Stroll 4
16 Marcus Ericsson 2
17 Esteban Ocon 1
18 Brendon Hartley 1
19 Romain Grosjean 0
20 Sergey Sirotkin 0

Constructors’ standings:
1 Ferrari 114
2 Mercedes 110
3 Red Bull-Renault 55
4 McLaren-Renault 36
5 Renault 35
6 Force India-Mercedes 16
7 Toro Rosso-Honda 13
8 Haas-Ferrari 11
9 Sauber-Ferrari 10
10 Williams-Mercedes 4

12 thoughts to “Hamilton takes Baku victory in a chaotic race”

  1. Baku race review as reported by Formula1.com.

    Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel had looked on course for this third win of the season in Baku on Sunday. Then the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen collided late on, the Safety Car was deployed and everything changed…

    Valtteri Bottas made his sole pit stop for Mercedes – it gave him the lead and when the unfortunate Vettel tried to overtake at Turn 1 on the restart, the German out-braked himself and instantly dropped out of podium contention.

    But within a lap, Bottas was also robbed of victory after running over debris and picking up a puncture – it handed the win to team mate Lewis Hamilton, whose triumph over Kimi Raikkonen gave him the championship lead, as Force India also celebrated with an unexpected podium for Sergio Perez.

    Vettel trailed home fourth, ahead of Renault’s Carlos Sainz, with rookie Charles Leclerc an incredible sixth for Sauber – his first F1 points. The McLarens of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne were seventh and ninth, split by Williams’ Lance Stroll, with Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley getting his maiden point as he completed the top 10.

    There had been drama from the off at the race start, with Force India’s Esteban Ocon and Williams’ Sergey Sirotkin both eliminated – Ocon went into the wall after contact with Raikkonen as the Ferrari tried to pass at Turn 3, while Sirotkin ran into the rear of the sister Force India of Perez, before getting pinched between Alonso’s McLaren and Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault.

    As Alonso limped back to the pits with two punctures, the Safety Car was sent out to allow the stricken cars and debris to be cleared. It returned to the pits at the end of lap 5, and then for most of the afternoon pole-sitter Vettel was very much in control, in front of Bottas and Hamilton.

    Behind the leading trio an enthralling cat-and-mouse battle between Verstappen and Sainz for P4 began to light up proceedings. The Red Bull prevailed initially to hold the position, but it wasn’t long before Sainz came out on top, picking off Verstappen down the pit straight to move into the top four.

    In a further blow to Red Bull, Nico Hulkenberg then breezed past Ricciardo and Verstappen to move into P5, in what was shaping up to be a very good afternoon for Renault. The German, however, went from hero to zero when a lap 12 lock-up sent him crashing out of the race – the second year in a row he has suffered that fate.

    By this stage, Vettel’s lead over Hamilton was just over three seconds. The Briton admitted prior to this race that Mercedes lacked pace this weekend, but the Silver Arrow was keeping within sight of the Prancing Horse.

    Behind the race leaders, the Red Bulls continued to squabble for P5. They first made contact on lap 14, with Verstappen refusing to give team mate Ricciardo – last year’s Baku winner – any space and the pair were close to driving each other off the track on numerous occasions. They came out unscathed this time, but that wasn’t the end of the tale.

    Hamilton, meanwhile, was continuing to chase down Vettel and the question became who would roll the dice first and pit in what was expected to be a one-stop race – Mercedes or Ferrari? In the end it was the world champion who was first to come in, returning to the track in P3 ahead of Verstappen.

    Vettel was then brought in seven laps later, shod with soft tyres. That allowed Bottas to lead the way, with Mercedes opting to keep the Finn out for as long as possible.

    Disaster then struck for Red Bull, when a frustrated Ricciardo clattered into the back of Verstappen as he tried to slipstream past on the run to Turn 1. The Dutchman appeared to have the inside line, and the Australian ploughed into the rear of his team mate, with wreckage everywhere. Technical chief Adrian Newey walked away from the pit wall in disgust.

    So, would this turn the race in Mercedes’ favour? The Safety Car was deployed again, giving the Silver Arrows an opportune chance to put both Bottas, in for his first stop, and Hamilton on fresh ultrasoft tyres. Ferrari also replicated that strategy with Vettel – putting Bottas into the lead.

    But if you thought this race couldn’t get any more chaotic, you were mistaken – Romain Grosjean somehow crashed under the Safety Car while trying to keep the tyres warm on his Haas.

    The action resumed with four laps to go, and things immediately got even worse for Ferrari. In a desperate bid to regain the lead, Vettel dived down the inside at Turn 1 but suffered a huge lock-up, dropping all the way down to fourth and allowing Hamilton to move into P2 and Raikkonen P3.

    There was one final piece of drama, though. With victory seemingly his, Bottas ran over a piece of debris on the track, suffering a puncture and allowing Hamilton to cruise to his first Grand Prix victory this season.

    It means the Briton now leads Vettel in the driver standings, 70 points to 66, with Raikkonen third ahead of Bottas, 48 to 40. In the constructors’ stakes, Ferrari have retaken the lead on 114 points to 110.

    The stewards still have plenty of work to do post-race – Raikkonen and Ocon’s coming together on lap 1 remains under investigation, as does the Red Bull’s collision.

    The biggest questions, however, will be those being asked at Red Bull, and in particular whether their decision to let their drivers continue to race at such close quarters was a wise one…

  2. Despite winning the race, Lewis Hamilton admits Baku win feels “a bit odd” considering the troubles that affected Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Lewis Hamilton admitted that his victory in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix felt a ‘bit odd’ after rivals Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas hit trouble at the end.

    Hamilton didn’t appear to have the pace to challenge for the win in the early stages of the race, and was running third behind Bottas and Vettel at a late safety car restart.

    But the race came to Hamilton as first Vettel outbraked himself at the first corner and ran wide, before Bottas retired from the lead a lap later when he suffered a puncture after running over debris.

    Speaking after the race, Hamilton said: “It was really quite an emotional race to be honest.

    “Valtteri did such an exceptional job and really deserved to have the win, also Sebastian did a great job.

    “It feels a little bit odd to be up here, but I’ve got to take it. I didn’t give up, I kept pushing but an untidy race for me.”

    Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda said that his team had mixed feelings about the result – and was angry that the debris that cost Bottas the win had not been cleared.

    “It was good and bad,” he told Sky Sports. “Why didn’t they clean up the circuit properly? There was so much time to do it. It was a disaster for Bottas and for Lewis really good.”

    He added: “He [Bottas] did everything absolutely perfect. He could have won the race easy, but nevertheless Lewis did a good job too so thank god we won the race.”

  3. McLaren’s Fernando Alonso suffered a double puncture in the early stage of the race but was able to continue. Alonso admitted the other drivers would have “parked” with my damage. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Fernando Alonso believes other drivers would have “parked their cars” had they suffered the kind of damage he had at the start of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

    The McLaren driver was hit by the Williams of Sergey Sirotkin on the opening lap and was forced to crawl back to the pits with two punctured tyres which disintegrated as he tried to reach it.

    After replacing the front wing and the wheels, Alonso returned to the race and managed to recover to seventh position despite the damage to the floor of his car.

    Alonso said the position was the result of “persistence and pride” and labelled his performance as the best of his life.

    “Very crazy. Another seventh place but I think today was the result of persistence and pride, because I think no one would have reached the pitlane, first of all,” Alonso said.

    “They would have parked the car and if they could reach the pitlane they would have retired the car.

    “But we didn’t park or retire the car and fought for every tenth, every lap, close to the walls all race long and, I think it was the best race of my life.”

    He added: “I’m happy with the points. It was probably one of the best races that I’ve done in a long time, or the best race of my life. I reached the pitlane thanks to a miracle. I didn’t have two wheels or front wing or floor or anything.

    “They changed the tyres and they told me the car was heavily damaged so I thought I wouldn’t be able to finish or that I would be very slow.

    “But I started overtaking cars and then with the safety car I gained some positions in the end.”

    The McLaren driver admitted he had “feared the worst” when he was informed about the damage to his car, and conceded the result came as a surprise.

    When asked how much laptime the damage was costing him, he said: “I don’t know. I haven’t seen the car or talked to the team, but they told me significant damage and when they say that it’s usually bad news because if it’s little they said you only have a damaged wing that shouldn’t be a problem.

    “When they said significant damage I feared the worst. A surprising result with a car that was damaged.”

    Teammate Stoffel Vandoorne completed another double-points finish for McLaren with ninth position.

  4. Sergio Perez’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix podium could be in jeopardy after the Force India Formula 1 driver was summoned to the stewards over improper DRS use.

    Perez came back from having to pit for repairs following a first-lap hit from Sergey Sirotkin to take third place in Baku, pouncing on Sebastian Vettel when the erstwhile F1 world championship leader flat-spotted his tyres trying to attack Valtteri Bottas for the lead at the final safety car restart.

    But having held off Vettel’s retaliation attempts to claim his first F1 podium since the same event two years ago, Perez has been called to the stewards over two allegedly illegal uses of DRS at 16.53 and 16.55 local time, during the middle of the race.

    Eighth-place finisher Lance Stroll and Kevin Magnussen, who ended up 13th after a late incident with Pierre Gasly, are also under investigation for the same issue.

    Perez already had to serve a five-second time penalty during his second pitstop for passing before the safety car line at the restart from the first caution period early in the race.

    He felt his late battle with Vettel was among the best driving of his career.

    “I think today I did the two best laps of my whole career,” said Perez. “The last two laps with Sebastian behind with cold tyres was so difficult.

    “I was on supersofts and had to keep a close rhythm to keep close to [Kimi] Raikkonen to make sure Seb didn’t get close enough. I am speechless.”

    Force India had filled the fourth row of the grid in Baku qualifying, before both drivers were involved in first-lap incidents.

    Esteban Ocon had to retire on the spot following a clash with Raikkonen.

    Source: Motorsport.com

  5. Helmut Marko was left unimpressed with the Red Bull self-destruct and blames both Verstappen and Ricciardo for Baku crash. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko has blamed both Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo for the collision that took them out of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

    After several feisty moments between the two Red Bulls, who raced closely throughout the F1 race in Baku, they both retired on the spot after Ricciardo ran into the back of Verstappen on the brakes for Turn 1.

    When asked for his reaction to the incident, Marko told Sky Sports: “We let the drivers race and then they are doing that. Unbelievable. Both were wrong.

    “It was a racing accident between the two, there was not more fault for one or the other.

    “We always let the drivers race, we don’t have a number one, we don’t have a number two, but we expect responsibility from the drivers.”

    Marko added that the matter had been discussed internally at Red Bull, and that interfering with the race from the pit wall was “against our philosophy”.

    Both drivers said their focus after the incident was on apologising to the team rather than finding anyone to blame.

    “It’s just really disappointing for the team, we lost a lot of points today, unnecessarily,” Verstappen told TV crews.

    “I don’t think we need to speak about whose fault [it is] because at the end of the day we are racing for a team, we are representing a lot of people and when this happens it’s not good for both of us.

    “Before that, it was hard racing but fair, we gave each other space, of course we had a little brush with the wheels, but in racing that can happen.

    “As racing drivers you go for every inch, of course you’re not happy when you collide as team-mates, but we are very fair to each other, so we spoke immediately after the race.

    “I don’t think letting us not race anymore is the way forward, but we will talk about it and see what happens.”

    Ricciardo said he was grateful that Red Bull allows its drivers to race hard on track together.

    When asked how things were with Verstappen, he said: “We’re not into each other right now, it’s more just about saying sorry to the team, just apologise the best way we can.

    “We don’t want to be in that situation. [I’m] just down I guess, for the situation. [I’m] thankful that we’re allowed to race, especially, myself and Max, we love to race. That’s cool.

    “We did get close already in the race a few times, touching, sometimes we were on the limit. Unfortunately it’s ended how it did. It’s not a nice situation.

    “We both feel pretty bad that it ended like that, and for the team it’s pretty crappy.”

    Explaining his perspective on the incident, he added: “I thought the gap was on the inside, and once I was there I had to commit to that.

    “But yeah, it’s just, let’s say, heartbroken for how the team must feel right now.”

  6. Pure heartbreak for Valtteri Bottas as the Mercedes driver was so close in winning the race. But a late puncture caused him to retire from the lead. Bottas didn’t see debris that cost him Baku win. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Valtteri Bottas says he had the Azerbaijan Grand Prix “under control” until sustaining the puncture that took him out of the lead with a handful of laps remaining.

    Bottas had managed the final restart of the race, having jumped ahead of Sebastian Vettel by pitting under the safety car when Red Bull teammates Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen collided.

    The Finn steered around Vettel when the Ferrari man overshot the first corner, and looked set to take his first win of the season when he picked up a right-rear puncture due to debris on the start/finish straight with three laps remaining.

    “It’s just unfortunate and unlucky,” said Bottas. “I think this track is difficult, street circuits in general with a lot of crashes will always be an issue, this time [it] was so unlucky.

    “I had no idea at any point that I ran over any debris, I didn’t see anything, I didn’t feel anything, so I was just very, very unlucky.

    “It felt [like] a good race to then, safety car restart everything was under control. I could pull a bit of a gap, then this happened – I just had no idea that I run over some debris, can’t say much more.

    “It felt like last couple of races have been quite close that [Mercedes] are winning, good thing for us as a team Lewis won, good points, but for myself, yeah… try again in two weeks.”

    When asked how he’d pick himself up from the disappointment, Bottas replied: “Maybe 10 pints of beer and we will be fine!

    “I will get through it – of course you always need to get through difficulties, it is part of racing although at the moment it is very painful.”

    Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said the manner of Bottas’s exit was “brutal” after he’d controlled the final restart from the front.

    “I think it must feel terrible because he pulled away, that was for me amazing to see, to lose the race three laps to the end because of debris on track is just brutal,” he said.

  7. Williams Formula 1 driver Sergey Sirotkin has been penalised for his collision with Force India’s Sergio Perez on the opening lap of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

    The Russian hit Perez’s VJM11 from behind under braking into the Turn 2 left-hander, leading the Mexican to then collide with his Force India teammate Esteban Ocon and further damage his car.

    Sirotkin would go on to retire further down the road in a three-way collision with Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso, and was assessed a three-place grid penalty by the FIA stewards, which he is set to serve in the Spanish Grand Prix.

    The rookie also picked up the first two penalty points on his license.

    “The driver of car 35 [Sirotkin] drove into the back of car 11 [Perez],” a stewards’ statement read, adding that Sirotkin was “wholly to blame for the collision”.

    Perez was forced to make an early stop in the aftermath of the collision, but recovered to finish the race in third place.

    Also receiving a penalty was Haas driver Kevin Magnussen, who was found the guilty party in a clash with the Toro Rosso of Pierre Gasly.

    The pair were fighting for the final points-scoring position of 10th on the late-race safety car restart following the clash between Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, but ended up dropping down the order.

    Gasly completed the race in 12th, while Magnussen rounded out the finishers in 13th place.

    “The driver of car 20 [Magnussen] moved unpredictably and unnecessarily to the left and collided with car 10 [Gasly], which was maintaining its direction,” the stewards’ explanation read.

    The Dane was handed a 10-second penalty, which had no impact on his race result, but also received two penalty points on his license, adding up to a total of eight for the 12-month period – with 12 points needed to trigger a race ban.

    Source: Motorsport.com

  8. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel says he “had to try” move on Bottas to take the lead in the final stages of the race. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Sebastian Vettel says he “had to try” to pass Valtteri Bottas in the closing stages of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, even though it cost him a podium finish.

    The Ferrari driver – who led the race comfortably until a safety car period allowed Bottas’s Mercedes to make a pitstop and emerge still ahead – locked up trying to retake the lead on a restart with four laps to go, ultimately dropping to fourth.

    “I’m happy that I tried, I’m not happy that it didn’t work, but I have to try,” said Vettel.

    “I don’t think it was overly optimistic to jump down the inside. I wasn’t overly late, otherwise I don’t make the corner at all, but I did make it, just.

    “I didn’t have any option – Lewis [Hamilton] was on the right so I can’t close on him. Valtteri was ahead of me, he left a gap. I was surprised, judging the braking was very difficult.

    “I was a bit trapped because I couldn’t see where I was relative to Turn 1. We have our references, and they are on the right – a kerb, the signs on the wall, and on the left there is hardly any reference.

    “I had a decent restart, I saw the gap on the inside, and unfortunately I locked up.

    “Without the lock-up, braking at the same point, I think I make the corner and it turns out to be a good move.

    “It’s easy to say it didn’t work, so it is the wrong thing, but I had to try. We can’t let one or two seconds from the race have a shame on all the race, because there are a lot of positives.”

    Vettel initially fell back from the top three cars after locking up, but he battled on with a flat-spotted tyre and tried to steal a podium finish from Sergio Perez at the end.

    “With that flatspot, I tried to get back to the Force India,” he said. “First I had to reshuffle a little bit and understand what the car balance was like with that flatspot.

    “[Force India] were quick on the straights, then [Perez] had a tow from the cars ahead, and I had not really a chance to try something. Bit of a shame.

    “Other than that I think it was a strong race, and that’s how it goes sometimes.

    “Without the safety car it would have been easier for us – there is probably 47 laps of positive and maybe one turn without a positive note. It’s part of the game.”

  9. The Iceman admitted he was lucky to finish after hitting wall “at full speed”. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Kimi Raikkonen has revealed he was lucky to finish Formula 1’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix after hitting the wall “at full speed” in the closing stages of the race.

    The Ferrari driver recovered from a first-lap tangle with Esteban Ocon to finish a crazy race second to Lewis Hamilton, but he thought he was going to have a high-speed accident coming onto the start/finish straight with three laps to go when he clipped the wall in the final kink on the lap.

    “On the first lap after the restart on the little kink coming to the last part of the straight I hit the inside wall at full speed,” said Raikkonen.

    “I’m pretty lucky that the front wheel didn’t go. I was expecting to go off quite fast, but I was lucky.”

    Raikkonen added that he had another near-miss before the race even started, when he “almost put it in the wall on the way to the grid”.

    “I had a lot of close moments,” he said. “We were kind of a bit on the limit, it was not the easiest. It was not the most enjoyable – some laps very good and some laps I had to try not to hit the wall.

    “The feeling was there but not consistently, so I thought ‘OK, I just try to go as fast as I can but a little bit safer’.

    “Maybe today certain things worked in our directions but whatever happened in front, it’s self-made issues in many ways.

    “The Red Bulls, look what they were going to do, I was pretty certain something was going to happen later when they got close to each other.

    “We stayed out of trouble, in this kind of race – knowing what happened last year, it’s going to pay off.”

    Ocon blamed Raikkonen for their collision on the opening lap, but the Finn believes the Force India driver didn’t see how far he was alongside.

    “I was inside in the corner and I don’t know if he didn’t see but he just turned in,” said Raikkonen. “He came off worse out of it. I thought he’d know I was there because I was next to him.

    “We destroyed the front wing and the tyre, changed the front wing but I didn’t check the car [for more damage]. The car felt OK, I struggled a bit with the tyres, but I’m sure there was not big damage.”

  10. Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo have both been given a reprimand by the FIA for their part in the collision that put them out of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

    The drivers were summoned to see the race stewards immediately after the race in Baku to examine whether either of them had been at fault for their crash at Turn 1.

    But following discussions with them and team representatives, the FIA deemed that both the Australian and the Dutchman were equally to blame for what had happened.

    However, despite both men apologising, they were given their first official reprimands of the current season.

    In a statement issued by the stewards, they noted that Verstappen had made two moves to defend his position – but they added that Ricciardo had also played his part in what happened by braking so late.

    “Both drivers contributed to the collision,” said the statement. “The driver of car 33 [Verstappen] made two moves, both of which were relatively minor.

    “The driver of car 3 [Ricciardo] admitted he left his move to overtake on the left, too late.

    “It was obvious to the stewards that although the incident had its origins in the moves by car 33, the driver of car 3 also contributed to the incident.

    “Both drivers expressed regret about their respective contributions to the incident, during the Stewards’ hearing.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

  11. Good news for Sergio Perez as the Force India keeps Azerbaijan Grand Prix podium, escaping a time penalty. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Force India Formula 1 driver Sergio Perez has kept his third-place finish in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, having escaped punishment following a stewards’ investigation.

    Perez delivered his and Force India’s first F1 podium since the race at the same venue in 2016, the Mexican recovering from an opening-lap hit from Sergey Sirotkin to bring the car home in third behind Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen.

    He was then summoned to the stewards post-race, alongside fellow drivers Lance Stroll and Kevin Magnussen, over alleged improper use of DRS midway through the grand prix.

    The system had malfunctioned during the race, with detection briefly rendered inactive at the first point and manual operation of the system permitted.

    The stewards said the Perez had “incorrectly activated the system manually”, but opted to take no further action, as the activations were brief and no car was overtaken.

    “The Stewards heard from Sergio Perez, the driver of car 11, and the team representative,” an FIA statement read. “The Stewards examined DRS activation data.

    “It is apparent that the move to the ‘default’ setting if the DRS system malfunctions requires the team to convey to the driver, by radio, a series of steps to adjust various settings.

    “In this case, the DRS light came on and as this was the first time the driver had experienced a default operation for the DRS, there was some misunderstanding of the procedure and the driver incorrectly activated the system manually.

    “The system, however, was only activated twice, each time for a short distance before the driver and team recognised the error.

    “The Stewards are satisfied that no car was overtaken through this incorrect use.”

    Perez’s Force India teammate Esteban Ocon likewise avoided punishment, following a stewards’ inquiry into his opening-lap clash with Raikkonen.

    Ocon overtook Ferrari driver Raikkonen at the start of the race, but the Finn attempted to reclaim the spot into the Turn 3 left-hander.

    As the Frenchman turned for the corner, the pair collided, sending Ocon’s VJM11 into the outside wall and out of the race.

    “The driver of car 7 [Raikkonen] and his team representative conceded that the collision was typical of a first lap racing incident,” the stewards’ statement read.

    “The driver of car 31 [Ocon] stated that the last vision he had of car 7 was on the straight after turn 2 which the two cars had successfully negotiated and that he had not seen car 7 on the inside into turn 3.

    “The driver of car 31 accepted the comments of the stewards that a driver should not assume another car is not in his proximity just because he cannot see one, as it is well known that vision from the current cars is not optimum in some positions.”

    Stroll, who finished the race in seventh to score Williams’ first points of the campaign, and Magnussen, who ended up 13th, both likewise escaped penalties.

  12. Azerbaijan Grand Prix victor Lewis Hamilton was late to the Baku podium because he went to tell Mercedes Formula 1 team-mate Valtteri Bottas that the win should have been his.

    Hamilton was only third at the late safety car restart, but gained one position when Sebastian Vettel ran wide trying to pass Bottas for the lead and was then handed the victory when Bottas picked up a dramatic rear puncture.

    “I have very mixed emotions for today,” said Hamilton. “It’s really quite a humbling experience.

    “Ultimately, Valtteri deserved to win. He did an exceptional job, a faultless drive. Less so on my side.

    “Straight away when I got out of the car and did the interviews I went to see Valtteri. I just wanted to congratulate him on how well he drove and that’s why I was late to the podium.

    “Valtteri was very, very unfortunate. A one-two would have been a great result for today. I wouldn’t have got by him if he hadn’t had that tyre blowout.”

    Bottas had been third in the early laps, but ran much longer than his main rivals in his first stint.

    He still had not pitted at all when the Red Bull intra-team collision prompted a safety car with 12 laps to go, and was able to stop and replace his old supersofts with fresh ultrasofts without losing the lead.

    Bottas sustained the puncture when he ran over debris on the start/finish straight with just three laps to go, in an incident that Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff described as “brutal”, and Mercedes non-executive director Niki Lauda hit out at the circuit for failing to clear the debris.

    Source: Motorsport.com

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