Bottas scores first pole this season by beating Hamilton

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas claimed his first pole position of the 2018 Formula 1 season at the Red Bull Ring.

Bottas, whose previous pole position came in last year’s season finale in Abu Dhabi, hit the front in the Q3 top ten shootout with a lap of one minute, 03.264 seconds on his first run – almost half-a-second faster than nearest rival Kimi Raikkonen.

His team-mate Lewis Hamilton ran deep into the Turn 3 hairpin on his first run and ended up in third, but the final runs turned into a shootout between the two Silver Arrows drivers.

On his final lap, Bottas shaded Hamilton in the first and third sector, with Hamilton only two-thousandths faster in the middle sector – adding up to pole position by 19 thousandths of a second.

Sebastian Vettel made a mistake on his first Q3 attempt but jumped from seventh to third on his final run ahead of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.

The Ferraris will start Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix on the ultrasoft tyres having used them to set their Q2 times, while Hamilton and Bottas will have supersofts.

Romain Grosjean put in a stunning performance to seal fifth place on his first run in Q3.

Max Verstappen got ahead of him as Grosjean did not improve on his second set of ultrasofts, but the Haas will still start ahead of the second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo.

The Red Bulls made three attempts in Q3 after using supersofts to set their Q2 times.

Kevin Magnussen, in the second Haas, took eighth position ahead of Renault pairing Carlos Sainz Jr and Nico Hulkenberg.

Esteban Ocon ended up P11 after his final Q2 lap fell almost two-tenths of a second short of beating Hulkenberg, who improved by enough on his second run to jump ahead of the Force India.

Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly failed to improve on his second attempt and ended up P12 ahead of the Sauber of Charles Leclerc, who only found 0.003 seconds on his final flier.

Leclerc has been hit with a five-place grid penalty after suffering a gearbox failure in final practice, meaning he is set to start P18.

McLaren’s Fernando Alonso was set to improve on his first-run time when he ran wide at the final corner and lost bodywork on the kerb on his final lap. That left him P14.

Williams driver Lance Stroll, who did a good job to make Q2 for the first time since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix two months ago rounded out the top 15.

Stoffel Vandoorne was quickest of the drivers eliminated in Q1 thanks to Stroll’s last-minute lap relegating him to P16.

Vandoorne was one of a number of drivers whose final attempt was compromised by yellow flags in the middle sector, with Leclerc’s Sauber causing one by a visit through the Turn 4 gravel trap, although his first sector time was down on his personal best having also complained about traffic.

Force India’s Sergio Perez was P17, with radio messages suggesting he had some kind of energy recovery problem that possibly restricted his available power at least on his first run.

Williams driver Sergey Sirotkin had set his personal best first sector when the yellow flags hit in the middle sector, meaning he ended up P18 after three runs.

Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley also completed three runs, but he was unable to improve on his final run having fallen short of his previous best by 0.013 seconds.

Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson was slowest, a tenth of a second off Hartley. He had to abandon his final lap having set his personal best first sector.

So a well deserved pole position for Valtteri Bottas. It’s been a while since the Mercedes driver scored P1 so it’s great for the sport to see Bottas qualified ahead of the champions. Fingers crossed Valtteri can score his first victory this season come race day.

Austrian Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m03.130s
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m03.149s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m03.464s
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m03.660s
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 1m03.840s
6 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m03.892s
7 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m03.996s
8 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m04.051s
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m04.725s
10 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m05.019s
11 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 1m04.845s
12 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1m04.874s
13 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 1m05.058s
14 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 1m05.286s
15 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 1m05.271s
16 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m05.279s
17 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 1m05.322s
18 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 1m04.979s
19 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda 1m05.366s
20 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1m05.479s

Hamilton takes French Grand Prix victory

Lewis Hamilton reclaimed the championship lead following a masterclass drive at Paul Ricard while title rival Sebastian Vettel clashed with Valtteri Bottas at the first corner.

Hamilton finished comfortably clear of the Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen to move into a 14-point lead over Vettel, who came home off the podium in fifth.

That was one place ahead of Bottas, who was spun around by Vettel at Turn 1 on a chaotic opening lap.

Vettel got a great start and drew alongside Bottas on the run into the first corner, but backed out on the inside only to lock his front-left and clatter into Bottas.

That broke Vettel’s front wing and gave Bottas a left-rear puncture, with both limping back to the pits to change to soft tyres – Vettel tried to carry on racing into Turns 3 and 4 and lightly tagged Romain Grosjean’s Haas, although both continued.

At the same corner, Pierre Gasly lost the rear of his Toro Rosso and slid into the back of Esteban Ocon’s Force India, putting both French drivers out of their home Grand Prix on lap one.

That prompted a safety car, under which Hamilton led from Verstappen, who had taken to the run-off to avoid the Bottas-Vettel clash, and Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr, who swept around the outside of Daniel Ricciardo at Turn 2 when the Red Bull ran deep into the first corner.

Hamilton started to build an immediate lead when racing resumed on lap five, with Verstappen a comfortable second as Ricciardo had to wait a few laps to reclaim third from Sainz.

The Renault slipped back further as Kimi Raikkonen recovered from a trip to the run-off to the avoid the first-corner mess.

He ran fifth for the next dozen laps or so before Vettel, who had switched to soft tyres and carved his way through the order after rejoining the tail of the field behind the safety car, made it back into the top five.

Vettel’s strong pace on fresh tyres briefly put him in a podium position when Ricciardo and Raikkonen stopped around mid-distance, but with his tyres fading away – and a five-second time penalty hanging over his head for the Bottas collision – he was a sitting duck.

After half a dozen laps Ricciardo, on softs, took back the podium spot by holding a tighter line through the fast double-right at Turns 10 and 11, and a further six laps later Raikkonen used fresh supersofts to clear his team-mate for fourth.

Raikkonen used his tyre advantage to arrow in on Ricciardo with seven laps remaining, then launched a couple of unsuccessful attacks at the outside of Turns 1 and then Turn 3.

He made the move stick by drafting the Red Bull down the back straight into the Turn 8 chicane to steal the final podium place.

Ricciardo finished half a minute clear of Vettel, who was struggling with tyres but gifted a free pitstop when Mercedes called in Bottas for an unknown reason.

That dropped Bottas down the order but he recovered back to seventh on fresh supersofts as Kevin Magnussen resisted late pressure to bag sixth for Haas.

Both drivers passed Sainz in the closing stages as he slowed with a reported loss of power, although he managed to hold onto eighth, one place ahead of team-mate Nico Hulkenberg at Renault’s home race.

Qualifying star Charles Leclerc completed the point scorers for Sauber having run inside the top six after the first lap action.

Lance Stroll was a late non-finisher after his front-left tyre gave up at the high-speed Signes right-hander, having completed 47 laps following an early stop under the safety car.

Sergio Perez was the only other retiree, having challenged for the points before a suspected engine problem, though Fernando Alonso stopped on the final lap reporting a suspension issue while running last. He had earlier spun while being overtaken by Vettel.

So a perfect Sunday afternoon drive for Lewis Hamilton. Scoring victory at the sport’s return back to the French Grand Prix after 10 years. Can Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari strike back? The Austria and British races are next up. Game on.

French Grand Prix, race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 53 1h30m11.385s
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 53 7.090s
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 53 25.888s
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 53 34.736s
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 53 1m01.935s
6 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 53 1m19.364s
7 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 53 1m20.632s
8 Carlos Sainz Renault 53 1m27.184s
9 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 53 1m31.989s
10 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 53 1m33.873s
11 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 52 1 Lap
12 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 52 1 Lap
13 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 52 1 Lap
14 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda 52 1 Lap
15 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 52 1 Lap
16 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 50 3 Laps
17 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 48 Tyre
– Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 27 Power Unit
– Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 0 Collision
– Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 0 Collision

Drivers’ standings:
1 Lewis Hamilton 145
2 Sebastian Vettel 131
3 Daniel Ricciardo 96
4 Valtteri Bottas 92
5 Kimi Raikkonen 83
6 Max Verstappen 68
7 Nico Hulkenberg 34
8 Fernando Alonso 32
9 Carlos Sainz 28
10 Kevin Magnussen 27
11 Pierre Gasly 18
12 Sergio Perez 17
13 Esteban Ocon 11
14 Charles Leclerc 11
15 Stoffel Vandoorne 8
16 Lance Stroll 4
17 Marcus Ericsson 2
18 Brendon Hartley 1
19 Romain Grosjean 0
20 Sergey Sirotkin 0

Constructors’ standings:
1 Mercedes 237
2 Ferrari 214
3 Red Bull-Renault 164
4 Renault 62
5 McLaren-Renault 40
6 Force India-Mercedes 28
7 Haas-Ferrari 27
8 Toro Rosso-Honda 19
9 Sauber-Ferrari 13
10 Williams-Mercedes 4

Hamilton scores 75th career pole position

Lewis Hamilton achieved his 75th career pole position in Formula 1 by beating Valtteri Bottas by 0.118 seconds to lead a Mercedes one-two in qualifying for the French Grand Prix on the sport’s return to Paul Ricard.

Mercedes looked strong during the practice sessions, and had the advantage throughout a qualifying hour during which rain threatened and fell lightly but never seriously impacted conditions.

Hamilton took control of the Q3 top ten shootout by posting a lap time of one minute, 30.222 seconds on ultrasofts on his first run, putting him a tenth ahead of Bottas and almost two tenths clear of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

That was before the session was stopped thanks to Haas driver Romain Grosjean crashing at the long Turn 4 left-hander.

Grosjean is not having a good season so far, so many crashes and incidents…

When the session restarted, Vettel was unable to improve on his earlier lap of one minute, 30.400 seconds, meaning it was a battle between the two Mercedes drivers.

Bottas, running ahead on track, jumped to top spot with a lap of one minute, 30.147 seconds, only for Hamilton to reclaim pole position for good with a one minute, 30.029 seconds.

Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo were fourth and fifth for Red Bull Racing, with the former almost seven tenths off pole, but ahead of Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari.

Raikkonen posted his time of one minute, 31.057 seconds before the red flag, but when he headed out to improve had an oversteer moment into Turn 4 and was unable to improve.

Hamilton, Bottas, Ricciardo and Verstappen will all start the French Grand Prix using supersoft Pirellis, having used the slower tyres to set their Q2 times.

Ferrari, by contrast, ran in Q2 with the ultrasofts that were favoured by everyone else throughout qualifying on both Vettel and Raikkonen’s car.

Carlos Sainz Jr took best-of-the rest honours for Renault in seventh place, just over a second slower than Raikkonen.

Sauber rookie star Charles Leclerc reached Q3 for the first time in his Formula 1 career and beat Haas driver Kevin Magnussen to eighth place.

Grosjean was classified tenth after failing to set a time during Q3 thanks to the shunt on his first flying lap.

The Haas driver spun at the exit of the Turn 3 right-hander after the rear stepped out and slid nose-first into the Turn 4 barrier, reporting he was unable to engage reverse to recover.

Esteban Ocon was the fastest of those eliminated in Q2 amid some very light drizzle thanks to being bumped by Leclerc moments after jumping up into the top ten with his final flier.

Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg was also eliminated despite his late improvement, ending up just six hundredths off the top ten despite what he described as “a very good lap”.

That put him ahead of the second Force India of Sergio Perez and Piere Gasly’s Toro Rosso.

Marcus Ericsson was P15 for Sauber and did well to reach Q3 having crashed during free practice session.

As a result, he missed second practice and then was limited to just three laps in final practice thanks to rain before qualifying.

McLaren produced its worst qualifying performance of the season, with both of its cars eliminated in Q1.

Fernando Alonso’s late lap was only good enough for P16, 0.027 seconds slower than Hulkenberg and half-a-tenth ahead of the Toro Rosso of Brendon Hartley.

Such a contrast to Alonso when racing in France. A week ago, scored pole position and won the famous endurance race Le Mans for Toyota in the WEC. As for Formula 1, it was back to reality. This was a real struggle for the McLaren driver.

Hartley will start at the back of the grid thanks to taking new engine components in the morning, and complained that wind, traffic and some spots of rain late in Q1 compromised his run.

Stoffel Vandoorne was P18 fastest in the second McLaren, ahead of Williams duo Sergey Sirotkin – who escaped action after an investigation for potentially impeding Hulkenberg – and Lance Stroll.

Stroll had an off-track moment at Turn 2 on his final run, reporting to the team that he hit the floor hard as he rattled over the kerbs.

So a return back to form for Mercedes. A front row starting position for Hamilton and Bottas. Championship leader Vettel is just third. The French Grand Prix should be fascinating.

Qualifying positions, French Grand Prix:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m30.029s
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m30.147s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m30.400s
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 1m30.705s
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m30.895s
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m31.057s
7 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m32.126s
8 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 1m32.635s
9 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m32.930s
10 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari –
11 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 1m32.075s
12 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m32.115s
13 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m32.454s
14 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1m32.460s
15 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1m32.820s
16 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 1m32.976s
17 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 1m33.162s
18 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 1m33.636s
19 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 1m33.729s
20 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda 1m33.025s

Vettel victorious in Canada

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel scored his fifty Grand Prix victory with a commanding performance at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

By winning the Canadian Grand Prix, Vettel now leads the drivers’ championship by a single point over his rival Lewis Hamilton.

Vettel led every lap of the race, quickly building a comfortable lead over Valtteri Bottas and controlling the gap from there.

The most eventful part of Vettel’s race after that came at the start of the final lap, when the chequered flag was shown more than one lap early.

Vettel was aware enough of the error to complete the full distance at racing speed, although after he crossed the line at the end of the 70th and final lap, the race result was then based on positions at the end of lap 68.

Bottas’s main challenge from behind came at the start when a fast-starting Max Verstappen pulled alongside into Turn 1, but Bottas held onto the inside line for Turn 2 and forced the Red Bull driver to back out.

After that moment, which Verstappen was praised for by his team as he avoided getting caught up in an incident, the Red Bull driver was never able to mount another attack.

Bottas did have a minor scare with 15 laps to go, when he went wide at Turn 1 after lapping Carlos Sainz Jr’s Renault, and clipped the grass at Turn 2, briefly falling back behind the Renault.

Monaco Grand Prix winner Daniel Ricciardo claimed fourth position, taking advantage of difficulties for Lewis Hamilton early in the race to jump the Mercedes during the pitstops.

While the Red Bulls pitted earlier than the other leading cars were scheduled to due to starting the race on the hypersoft tyre, Hamilton also came in around the same time despite being on ultrasofts that should have been able to last much longer.

But he was forced into an early stop so Mercedes could attempt to rectify an engine problem, with the reigning world champion having reported “drop outs of power” early in the race.

After falling behind Ricciardo during those pitstops, Hamilton was then vulnerable to Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari also getting ahead of him when The Iceman stopped much later in the race, but he hung on to fifth place as Raikkonen emerged from the pits just behind him at Turn 2.

Despite having tyres that were 16 laps fresher than Hamilton’s, Raikkonen couldn’t mount a challenge and gradually fell back from the Mercedes.

Mercedes offered Hamilton the option of turning down his engine in the closing laps, but he declined – instead pressuring Ricciardo and getting to within a second of the Red Bull.

Hamilton got close at the hairpin with four laps to go, but was unable to attempt a pass down the following straight after having a big slide in the middle of the corner, and he then lost further time on the following lap stuck behind Sergey Sirotkin’s Williams.

Behind the leading cars, Renault took a one-two finish in the ‘class B’ race, with Nico Hulkenberg leading home Sainz to claim seventh and eighth for the team.

Esteban Ocon, who was ahead of both Renaults early in the race, was the first car to make a scheduled pitstop, and he lost out to Hulkenberg and Sainz having been holding them up before he suffered a slow pitstop, which relegated him to ninth.

Ocon came back at the Renaults in the closing stages of the race, prompting Renault to ask Hulkenberg to pick up the pace to prevent Sainz coming under attack.

The final point went to Charles Leclerc, who inherited tenth when Fernando Alonso retired with an exhaust problem.

The Sauber driver headed Alonso early in the race but he lost out to the McLaren during the pitstops, only to reclaim the position when Alonso came into the pits again to retire.

This was a disappointing end for the double world champion. Fernando Alonso celebrated his 300th Grand Prix at Canada but after a difficult qualifying session – only P14 – this race was challenging for the McLaren driver. To drop out was pure heartbreak.

The only other drivers not to finish were Brendon Hartley and home driver Lance Stroll, who crashed in spectacular fashion at Turn 5 on the opening lap.

Stroll got out of shape through the fast right-hand kink, squeezing Hartley, who was on his left, between the Williams and the tyre barrier, briefly launching the Toro Rosso into the air.

After being examined at the medical centre, Hartley was then sent to hospital for further checks.

So not the most exciting Canadian Grand Prix with the most dramatic moment on lap one involving a crash between the Williams and Toro Rosso.

Congratulations to Sebastian Vettel in winning the race and claiming a Ferrari victory at Canada since 2004, when Michael Schumacher triumphed for the Scuderia.

There’s a single championship point separating Vettel and Hamilton as Formula 1 heads to a new event, the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard. Roll on the title fight.

Canadian Grand Prix, race results:
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 68 1h28m31.377s
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 68 7.376s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 68 8.360s
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 68 20.892s
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 68 21.559s
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 68 27.184s
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 67 1 Lap
8 Carlos Sainz Renault 67 1 Lap
9 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 67 1 Lap
10 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 67 1 Lap
11 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 67 1 Lap
12 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 67 1 Lap
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 67 1 Lap
14 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 67 1 Lap
15 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 66 2 Laps
16 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 66 2 Laps
17 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 66 2 Laps
– Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 40 Exhaust
– Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 0 Collision
– Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda 0 Collision

Drivers’ standings:
1 Sebastian Vettel 121
2 Lewis Hamilton 120
3 Valtteri Bottas 86
4 Daniel Ricciardo 84
5 Kimi Raikkonen 68
6 Max Verstappen 50
7 Fernando Alonso 32
8 Nico Hulkenberg 32
9 Carlos Sainz 24
10 Kevin Magnussen 19
11 Pierre Gasly 18
12 Sergio Perez 17
13 Esteban Ocon 11
14 Charles Leclerc 10
15 Stoffel Vandoorne 8
16 Lance Stroll 4
17 Marcus Ericsson 2
18 Brendon Hartley 1
19 Romain Grosjean 0
20 Sergey Sirotkin 0

Constructors’ standings:
1 Mercedes 206
2 Ferrari 189
3 Red Bull-Renault 134
4 Renault 56
5 McLaren-Renault 40
6 Force India-Mercedes 28
7 Toro Rosso-Honda 19
8 Haas-Ferrari 19
9 Sauber-Ferrari 12
10 Williams-Mercedes 4

Vettel records 54th career pole at Canada

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel claimed his 54th career pole position for the Canadian Grand Prix, while his Formula 1 title rival Lewis Hamilton was only fourth.

Vettel set the pace throughout the Q3 top ten shootout, posting a time of one minute, 10.776 seconds on his first run to take top spot.

He then shaved 0.012 seconds off that time on his second run using the hypersoft Pirellis to make sure of pole. By securing the prime position on the grid, this was Ferrari’s first pole since the great Michael Schumacher in 2001.

Valtteri Bottas was second fastest for Mercedes, but was unable to improve on his first-run lap having lost time in the first and second sectors.

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen made it three different makes in the top three by jumping to third on his final lap, relegating Hamilton to fourth place – just over two tenths slower than Vettel.

Kimi Raikkonen had been third after the first runs in Q3, but ran wide onto the grass exiting Turn 2 on his second set of hypersofts and was forced to abort the lap. The Iceman ended up shuffled down to fifth.

Daniel Ricciardo was sixth fastest, lapping just two-hundredths of a second off Raikkonen.

The Ferrari and Mercedes drivers will start the race on the ultrasoft Pirellis, having used that compound to set their fastest times in Q2, with Red Bull and the rest of the top ten using hypersofts.

Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg took seventh place ahead of Force India’s Esteban Ocon.

The Renault and Force India pattern was repeated on the fifth row, with Carlos Sainz Jr comfortably ahead of Sergio Perez.

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen was fastest of those eliminated in Q2, lapping two-tenths slower than Perez.

That was enough to put him 29 thousandths of a second ahead of Brendon Hartley’s Toro Rosso, which is running the upgraded Honda engine package.

Hartley complained about losing a couple of tenths in the final chicane on his quickest lap.

Sauber driver Charles Leclerc was P13, with McLaren duo Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne never looking like a Q3 threat and ending up P14 and P15 – separated by just 0.009 seconds.

Alonso complained about poor drivability out of the hairpin on his last run, but Vandoorne suggested over the radio that this pace was representative of McLaren’s capability this weekend.

All five of those drivers had been in the drop zone after their first runs in Q2, but despite all finding time on their second set of hypersofts none were able to break into the top ten.

Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly, who had an engine change to the old-specification Honda after a problem in final practice, was knocked out in Q1 by last-minute improvements by Alonso and Vandoorne.

Gasly was unable to improve on the pace he set on his first Q1 run having been 11th at that stage, meaning he was shuffled down the order in the final minutes and ended up P16.

Williams duo Lance Stroll, who had an off-track moment at the final chicane on his last run, and Sergey Sirotkin were P17 and P18 respectively, effectively last of those not to hit trouble.

Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson hit the wall exiting the Turn 8/9 chicane on his first run, and sustained damage that left him P19.

Haas-Ferrari driver Romain Grosjean was unable to run at all after suffering what appeared to be an engine failure as he headed towards the end of the pitlane billowing smoke at the beginning of the session.

So an exciting qualifying session at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Title challenger Sebastian Vettel sets a new track record to take his 54th career pole. The lap times between the three cars – Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull – are very close. Roll on the Canadian Grand Prix.

Canadian Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m10.776s
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m10.857s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 1m11.096s
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m11.227s
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m11.095s
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m11.281s
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m12.038s
8 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 1m12.084s
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m12.238s
10 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m12.671s
11 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m12.606s
12 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda 1m12.635s
13 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 1m12.661s
14 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 1m12.856s
15 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 1m12.865s
16 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1m13.047s
17 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 1m13.590s
18 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 1m13.643-
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1m14.593s
20 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari –

Ricciardo victorious at Monaco

Daniel Ricciardo survived a reliability scare to hold off Sebastian Vettel to take his second victory of the 2018 Formula 1 season in the Monaco Grand Prix.

Ricciardo was comfortably in charge early on before an apparent energy recovery systems problem took hold for the majority of the race.

The honey badger managed that loss of power to the end to clinch his seventh Grand Prix victory, with Vettel dropping back in second late on and Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes a distant third.

Ricciardo covered Vettel into Ste Devote and had built a lead of 3.6 seconds before the leaders pitted to shed their used hypersofts from qualifying.

Vettel stopped on lap 16 of 78 with Ricciardo staying out a lap later and rejoining with a lead still above three seconds.

Ricciardo then started to report a loss of power and Vettel closed in.

Red Bull indicated the problem would not get worse and Ricciardo was able to maintain the lead, albeit at a reduced pace.

That allowed Vettel to run just over a second behind him, with Hamilton gradually closing in and putting the top three within three seconds of each other.

Hamilton was complaining more about the state of his tyres and gradually slipped back to a lonely third position.

Ricciardo’s loss of pace meant Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas threatened to stop privately duelling over fourth and join the lead train, but never quite managed to do so.

Bottas had briefly threatened to be a dark horse after taking supersofts at his only pitstop while the top four went on ultrasofts, and was considerably faster in clean air.

His charge ended as soon as he caught Raikkonen and found himself stuck behind the Ferrari, and although they closed right up on Hamilton at the end they held position.

Esteban Ocon just held on to finish best-of-the-rest for Force India.

Ocon pitted later than most frontrunners but not as late as Pierre Gasly and Nico Hulkenberg, who ran exceptionally long opening stints and had fierce pace in the second half of the race.

Toro Rosso driver Gasly had supersofts to the hypersofts on Hulkenberg’s Renault, but just about managed to keep seventh place as Ocon kept the pair at bay.

Max Verstappen scored points after his crash on Saturday condemned him to a back-of-the-grid start.

The Red Bull drove gradually rose up the order and finished ninth after wresting the place from Carlos Sainz Jr with a forceful move at the Nouvelle chicane.

Sainz survived one attack there by cutting the chicane, but a lap later Verstappen made it stick on the outside – he ran slightly deep into the corner and half-cut it, half-clobbered the kerb on the first right-hand apex, but kept the place.

A late conclusion to the race was interrupted by Charles Leclerc rear-ending Brendon Hartley under braking for the Nouvelle chicane with seven laps to go.

Hartley was running P11 with Leclerc just behind when the Sauber rookie smashed into the rear of the Toro Rosso shortly after exiting the tunnel.

Leclerc, who reported “no brakes” immediately afterwards, skated down the escape road with the front of his car deranged, while Hartley limped back to retire in the pits with a broken rear wing.

That triggered a virtual safety car, but with so little time remaining the frontrunners did not risk pitting and the order remained the same, albeit with Vettel falling further back from Ricciardo.

Fernando Alonso was the race’s other retiree. The Spaniard was on course to finish seventh until he was forced to retire his McLaren, which was smoking at the rear as he came to a halt on the exit of Ste Devote with 25 laps left.

So a masterclass performance from Daniel Ricciardo. Fastest in all the sessions and to take victory with a power issue is incredible. Well done honey badger on this Monaco Grand Prix triumph. That was redemption and payback.

Monaco Grand Prix, race results:
1 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 78 1h42m54.807s
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 78 7.336s
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 78 17.013s
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 78 18.127s
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 78 18.822s
6 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 78 23.667s
7 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 78 24.331s
8 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 78 24.839s
9 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 78 25.317s
10 Carlos Sainz Renault 78 1m09.013s
11 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 78 1m09.864s
12 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 78 1m10.461s
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 78 1m14.823s
14 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 77 1 Lap
15 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 77 1 Lap
16 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 77 1 Lap
17 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 76 2 Laps
18 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 70 Collision
19 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda 70 Collision
– Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 52 Gearbox

Drivers’ standings:
1 Lewis Hamilton 110
2 Sebastian Vettel 96
3 Daniel Ricciardo 72
4 Valtteri Bottas 68
5 Kimi Raikkonen 60
6 Max Verstappen 35
7 Fernando Alonso 32
8 Nico Hulkenberg 26
9 Carlos Sainz 20
10 Kevin Magnussen 19
11 Pierre Gasly 18
12 Sergio Perez 17
13 Esteban Ocon 9
14 Charles Leclerc 9
15 Stoffel Vandoorne 8
16 Lance Stroll 4
17 Marcus Ericsson 2
18 Brendon Hartley 1
19 Romain Grosjean 0
20 Sergey Sirotkin 0

Constructors’ standings:
1 Mercedes 178
2 Ferrari 156
3 Red Bull-Renault 107
4 Renault 46
5 McLaren-Renault 40
6 Force India-Mercedes 26
7 Toro Rosso-Honda 19
8 Haas-Ferrari 19
9 Sauber-Ferrari 11
10 Williams-Mercedes 4

Ricciardo on top form with Monaco Grand Prix pole

Daniel Ricciardo claimed pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix while his Red Bull Racing’s team-mate Max Verstappen missed qualifying following his practice crash.

The honey badger topped the first two stages of qualifying, with Verstappen unable even to take to the street circuit thanks to damage sustained in a crash at the second part of Swimming Pool that forced a gearbox change, before banging in a one minute, 10.810 seconds on his first run in Q3 to take top spot.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton briefly threatened Ricciardo’s position with the fastest first sector time of qualifying on his final lap, but lost time later and ended up third behind Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel.

Ricciardo, meanwhile, looked set to improve, but lost time in the final sector and ended up posting a lap 0.036 seconds slower than his first attempt.

This is only Ricciardo’s second pole position in Formula 1, coming two years after his first at the same event.

Kimi Raikkonen was fourth fastest, just 0.034 seconds slower than Hamilton, with the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas in fifth place.

Of the Q3 runners, only the Mercedes drivers attempted an alternative strategy by using ultrasofts compound for their first runs in Q2.

But neither Hamilton nor Bottas were quick enough and had to run again on hypersofts, meaning all of the top ten will start on the softest Pirelli compound.

Esteban Ocon won the battle for best of the rest in sixth place, with just 0.160 seconds covering the bottom five in Q3.

McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, Renault’s Carlos Sainz, Force India’s Sergio Perez and Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly completed the top ten.

Nico Hulkenberg’s final lap in Q2 was not good enough to get him into the top ten, falling a tenth short of Gasly’s time.

McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne was shuffled down to P12 having been sixth based on his time on the first runs thanks to failing to improve on his second set of tyres – potentially as a result of a minor problem with the car.

Williams driver Sergey Sirotkin and Sauber’s Charles Leclerc were eighth and ninth respectively in Q1, but ended up P13 and P14 overall despite both making slight improvements in the second stage of qualifying.

Romain Grosjean was P15 for Haas, just 0.014 seconds slower than Leclerc, as the team continued to struggle.

Toro Rosso driver Brendon Hartley was fastest of those to be eliminated in Q1 in P16.

His first run was not quick enough to avoid the drop zone, and he was only able to make an improvement of 0.224 seconds on his second set of hypersofts.

A yellow flag at Ste Devote because of Leclerc’s off meant he could not make a final attempt to get into the top 15.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson was P17 ahead of the Williams of Lance Stroll, with Kevin Magnussen’s difficult weekend continuing with P19 and last place of the runners ahead only of Verstappen.

So a contrast of fortunes for Red Bull Racing. Daniel Ricciardo is on mighty form after setting the pace in all three practice sessions and qualifying leading to pole position.

While Max Verstappen suffered a crash in final practice and was unable to part in Q1. Will start the Monaco Grand Prix last. Sunday’s race should be fascinating. Bring on the street fight.

Qualifying positions, Monaco Grand Prix:

1 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m10.810s
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m11.039s
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m11.232s
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m11.266s
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m11.441s
6 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 1m12.061s
7 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 1m12.110s
8 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m12.130s
9 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m12.154s
10 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1m12.221s
11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m12.411s
12 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 1m12.440s
13 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 1m12.521s
14 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 1m12.714s
15 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda 1m13.179s
16 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1m13.265s
17 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 1m13.323s
18 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m12.728s
19 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m13.393s
20 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault –

Hamilton leads a Mercedes 1-2 in Spain

An easy Sunday afternoon drive for the defending champion. Lewis Hamilton made it back-to-back Formula 1 victories as he headed home a dominant Mercedes one-two in the Spanish Grand Prix.

Hamilton defeated team-mate Valtteri Bottas by more than 20 seconds after a surprise second stop under a virtual safety car for Sebastian Vettel dropped Ferrari off the podium.

In his place came Max Verstappen, who fended off Vettel despite a damaged front wing to score his first podium of the year.

Vettel jumped Bottas into Turn 1 to slot into second before the race was immediately neutralised under a safety car for a multi-car crash at Turn 3.

Romain Grosjean had just got ahead of Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso after those ran deep into Turn 2, but then overreacted to a wobble from Haas team-mate Kevin Magnussen ahead of him and ran wide on the entry to Turn 3.

Grosjean lost the rear but seemed to keep the throttle planted, which lit up the rear tyres, spun him back across the track and meant he was collected by Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault and Pierre Gasly’s Toro Rosso.

All three retired on the spot and a lengthy clean-up operation began, before racing resumed on lap 7.

Hamilton bolted clear at the restart, comfortably stretching his advantage to more than seven seconds over the next ten laps, until Vettel stopped.

A slow out-lap as Vettel struggled to get an immediate hit on its fresh medium tyres, combined with Bottas pumping in outright best sector times, looked to have handed second position to Mercedes.

But Bottas suffered a slow pitstop, losing 1.4 seconds to Vettel, and emerged just behind.

The procession was interrupted on lap 25 by the first of two incidents involving Ferrari.

First, Kimi Raikkonen slowed from fourth position and coaxed his car back into the pits to retire – The Iceman had taken a new engine after Friday practice.

The second came 15 laps later, when Esteban Ocon’s smoking, parked Force India sparked a virtual safety car and Ferrari reacted by pitting Vettel and putting him on a two-stop strategy as the other frontrunners stuck to a one-stop.

That gave track position to Bottas and Verstappen, but kept Vettel ahead of Daniel Ricciardo.

Vettel, with fresh medium tyres, started to catch Verstappen as the Red Bull driver battled with a front wing missing the left endplate, which he broke clipping a Williams at the VSC restart.

However, Verstappen just kept clear of Vettel to score his first podium of the season behind the Mercedes one-two.

Ricciardo slipped back to a lonely fifth after a curious second half of the race.

Having run within ten seconds of Verstappen at the VSC, he dropped big chunks of time at certain points and ended up 21 seconds behind his team-mate despite responding with the fastest lap near the end.

Kevin Magnussen produced a faultless drive to claim sixth and best-of-the-rest honours for Haas, while Sainz survived a fuel problem in the closing stages to finish seventh.

Alonso was eighth for McLaren ahead of Sergio Perez’s Force India, while Sauber rookie Charles Leclerc earned his second points finish in a row with tenth.

So not the most exciting Spanish Grand Prix as aerodynamics and circuit layout makes overtaking difficult. The most dramatic moment was at the opening lap in which three cars got wiped out.

Congratulations to Mercedes in scoring a perfect 1-2 result at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. This was Lewis Hamilton’s 64th victory in Formula 1 and extends his championship lead to Sebastian Vettel by 17 points.

Spanish Grand Prix, race results:

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 66 1h35m29.972s
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 66 20.593s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 66 26.873s
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 66 27.584s
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 66 50.058s
6 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 65 1 Lap
7 Carlos Sainz Renault 65 1 Lap
8 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 65 1 Lap
9 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 64 2 Laps
10 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 64 2 Laps
11 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 64 2 Laps
12 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda 64 2 Laps
13 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 64 2 Laps
14 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 63 3 Laps
– Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 45 Retirement
– Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 38 Retirement
– Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 25 Retirement
– Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 0 Collision
– Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 0 Collision
– Nico Hulkenberg Renault 0 Collision

Drivers’ standings:

1 Lewis Hamilton 95
2 Sebastian Vettel 78
3 Valtteri Bottas 58
4 Kimi Raikkonen 48
5 Daniel Ricciardo 47
6 Max Verstappen 33
7 Fernando Alonso 32
8 Nico Hulkenberg 22
9 Kevin Magnussen 19
10 Carlos Sainz 19
11 Sergio Perez 17
12 Pierre Gasly 12
13 Charles Leclerc 9
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 Mercedes 153
2 Ferrari 126
3 Red Bull-Renault 80
4 Renault 41
5 McLaren-Renault 40
6 Haas-Ferrari 19
7 Force India-Mercedes 18
8 Toro Rosso-Honda 13
9 Sauber-Ferrari 11
10 Williams-Mercedes 4

Hamilton leads Silver Arrows front row in Spain

Lewis Hamilton leads a Mercedes front row at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, from Valtteri Bottas with title rival Sebastian Vettel in third.

The defending champion was fastest after the first runs in the Q3 top ten shootout, and like Bottas opted for another set of supersoft Pirellis for his second run.

Hamilton banged in a lap of one minute, 16.173 seconds to shave just over three tenths off his earlier time to secure top spot.

Bottas was a little bit faster than Hamilton in the first and third sectors, but Hamilton’s mighty speed in the second sector meant Bottas ended up second best.

With some of Mercedes’ rivals struggling to get the best out of the supersofts, Sebastian Vettel used softs to take third place for Ferrari, 0.132 seconds off the pace.

His Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen qualified fourth.

That put him ahead of the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, who were separated by just two thousandths of a second in fourth and fifth.

This was despite the Red Bull drivers splitting their tyre choice, with Verstappen setting his time on supersofts and Ricciardo on softs.

Kevin Magnussen was best of the rest for Haas, ahead of McLaren’s Fernando Alonso.

Romain Grosjean was ninth, ahead of the Renault of Carlos Sainz.

Nine of the top ten drivers used the soft Pirellis to set their Q2 times, meaning all except Alonso, who used supersofts, will start on that tyre compound.

Stoffel Vandoorne lapped 0.223 seconds slower than team-mate Alonso in Q2 using soft Pirellis, ending up in P11 and fastest of the five drivers eliminated at that stage.

Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly was P12, just ahead of the Force India of Esteban Ocon.

Sauber’s Charles Leclerc managed to split the Force Indias with a lap of one minute, 18.910 seconds, almost two-tenths faster than Sergio Perez.

Nico Hulkenberg was the fastest driver to be eliminated in Q1 in P16 after Vandoorne made a late improvement.

The Renault driver was unable to set a time on his first run owing to what the team described as a “fuel pressure issue” that held him back throughout Q1, and only had time for a single attempt on his second run – ending up 0.038 seconds slower than Vandoorne.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson was P17, over half-a-second behind Hulkenberg, with Williams driver Sergey Sirotkin, who must serve a three-place grid penalty thanks to hitting Sergio Perez on the first lap of the last race in Baku, P18.

Lance Stroll was P19, crashing exiting the Turn 12 right-hander on his final flier after running wide then losing it on the throttle at the exit as he ran into the gravel.

He spun, glancing the wall, and ended up coming to rest at the entry of Turn 13.

Brendon Hartley did not participate in qualifying after spinning at the high-speed Campsa right-hander at the end of the third free practice session and backing heavily into the barriers.

His Toro Rosso team could not get the car repaired during the two-hour gap before qualifying. So will start the race last.

So a superb Mercedes one-two qualifying result. The first for the team this season. Two years ago, the Silver Arrows started on the front row but clashed on the opening lap… Fingers crossed the Spanish Grand Prix will be incident-free for Hamilton and Bottas.

Qualifying positions, Spanish Grand Prix:

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m16.173s
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m16.213s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m16.305s
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m16.612s
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 1m16.816s
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m16.818s
7 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m17.676s
8 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 1m17.721s
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m17.790s
10 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m17.835s
11 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 1m18.323s
12 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1m18.463s
13 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 1m18.696s
14 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 1m18.910s
15 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m19.098s
16 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m18.923s
17 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1m19.493s
18 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 1m20.225s
19 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 1m19.695s
20 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda –

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