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

Hamilton scores his 66th career pole at Baku

Lewis Hamilton won the Mercedes duel from Valtteri Bottas in qualifying to record his 66th career pole at the Baku Street Circuit.

This latest achievement in Formula 1 means Hamilton is just two poles away in equalling Michael Schumacher’s record of 68. The form that Hamilton is on, the triple champion can surpass this and record more.

Hamilton was the only driver to lap under one minute, 42 seconds in Q1 and was comfortably fastest with a single run in Q2 as well.

He let Bottas get briefly ahead during the initial runs in Q3, after locking up and running wide at Turn 16 near the end of his quickest lap, before Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull hit the wall at the Turn 6 right-hander, bringing out the red flags and spoiling a potentially faster lap for Hamilton.

That incident turned the session into a one flying lap dash once the Red Bull was cleared, and Hamilton pulled out an awesome effort on his final run to claim pole by almost half a second from Bottas.

Both Ferraris struggled in qualifying, with Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel taking to the escape road at Turn 3 during their first runs.

Raikkonen recovered best to claim third on the grid, but over six tenths of a second down on the Mercedes of fellow Finn Bottas.

Vettel was fourth in the sister Ferrari, fractionally ahead of the surviving Red Bull of Max Verstappen.

Sergio Perez pipped Force India team-mate Esteban Ocon by less than a tenth of a second to complete the top six, while Lance Stroll narrowly outqualified Williams team-mate Felipe Massa for the first time to claim a career-best eighth on the grid.

Ricciardo ended up slowest in Q3 following his crash.

The pace of the top five teams ensured there wasn’t much of a fight to make it through to Q3.

The Toro Rossos of Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz weren’t fast enough to challenge the Williams and Force Indias, but were comfortably quick enough to outpace Kevin Magnussen’s Haas (even with the benefit of an aerodynamic tow from Sainz), Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault – which lost power after only one run in Q2 – and Pascal Wehrlein’s Sauber, which the Mercedes junior driver heroically dragged into the top 15.

A last-ditch effort from Magnussen ensured a Haas made it through to Q2 at the expense of Fernando Alonso’s McLaren-Honda, which ended up P16, fitted with a ‘spec 2’ engine, and just 0.017 seconds shy of beating Wehrlein’s Sauber into Q2.

Alonso is set to drop to the rear of the grid thanks to his 40-place grid penalty for various engine component changes, which will promote Romain Grosjean’s Haas and the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson.

Stoffel Vandoorne was slowest of those that ran in qualifying, 0.235 seconds adrift of Ericsson, and will also cop a hefty grid penalty – including five places for an unscheduled gearbox change after final practice.

Jolyon Palmer was classified last in qualifying, without a lap time. He sat out the session after a high-pressure fuel leak caused his Renault to cook itself during the early stages of practice three.

The speed advantage from Mercedes was highly impressive in qualifying. The long, home straight really showcase the power and to be over a second clear from rival Ferrari underlines the dominance of this hybrid era of Formula 1.

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix is going to be fascinating on Sunday. Can Hamilton reduce the points gap to Sebastian Vettel? What can Valterri Bottas do? Is he able to challenge for victory? Bring on the race.

Qualifying positions, Baku:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m40.593s
2    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    1m41.027s
3    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m41.693s
4    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m41.841s
5    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m41.879s
6    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m42.111s
7    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    1m42.186s
8    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    1m42.753s
9    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m42.798s
10    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m43.414s
11    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m43.186s
12    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    1m43.796s
13    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    1m44.267s
14    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    1m44.603s
15    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m43.347s
16    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m44.468s
17    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m44.795s
18    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda     1m44.334s*
19    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda     1m45.030s*
20    Jolyon Palmer       Renault –

*Grid penalties for power unit change

Dominant Hamilton wins at Canada

Lewis Hamilton scored a dominant lights-to-flag victory at the Canadian Grand Prix, significant reducing the points lead to title rival Sebastian Vettel.

The Mercedes driver lead away from pole position and remained unchallenged for most of the 70-lap race to cross the line 19.7 seconds clear of his  team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo completed the podium, with Vettel recovering to fourth position having dropped to last after sustaining damage at the start.

That happened when Max Verstappen made a storming getaway from fifth, going around the outside of Vettel at Turn 1 to take second behind Hamilton.

But with Bottas simultaneously attacking Vettel on the inside, the Ferrari found itself squeezed and damaged its front wing on Verstappen’s left-rear wheel.

Vettel continued initially but was soon forced to pit when part of the front wing broke off, dropping him to P18 and last.

The race had been neutralised on the opening lap, when the safety car was called into action following a collision between Carlos Sainz and Romain Grosjean.

Sainz appeared to move across on Grosjean on the straight after Turn 2, causing contact that pitched the Toro Rosso into a spin approaching Turn 3.

The out-of-control Sainz violently collected an innocent Felipe Massa. Both were out but unhurt, while Grosjean had to pit for a new front wing.

Hamilton held off an attack from Verstappen at the safety car restart but that challenge ended very soon when the Red Bull pulled off track at Turn 2 with a mechanical problem, prompting a virtual safety car.

Bottas was promoted to second place but was unable to provide a challenge to his team-mate. Hamilton had this race in his control and recorded his third win of the season and sixth in Canada.

He moved to within 12 points of championship leader Vettel as Mercedes achieved its first one-two of the 2017 campaign.

While the Mercedes had a trouble-free race with a one-stop strategy, Ferrari made a mid-race switch to a two-stopper for its out-of-position drivers.

Kimi Raikkonen had dropped behind Sergio Perez’s Force India when he made a mistake in the early laps.

Vettel made rapid progress through the midfielders and was closing on his team-mate into the second half of the Canadian Grand Prix when their strategies changed.

Raikkonen was first to make an extra stop and initially stayed ahead of Vettel, only to run off-track at the final chicane when his car developed brake problems that left him limping to the finish.

That left Vettel clear to chase down a podium battle in which Ricciardo was hanging on ahead of the Force Indias.

Esteban Ocon was catching Perez after making a later pitstop, prompting Force India to ask them to swap places.

Perez insisted the team let them race and it proved costly as their wheel-to-wheel fight allowed Vettel to get a run and dive down the inside of Ocon into the first corner in a bold move.

While Ocon sliding over the run-off, Vettel continued his chase after Perez, running off track briefly at Turns 8 and 9 but then making a pass stick at the final chicane for fourth.

Despite an angry Ocon’s best efforts, Perez clung on to fifth position.

Raikkonen nursed his Ferrari home in seventh, just ahead of Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault.

Lance Stroll scored the first points of his Formula 1 career with ninth in front of his home crowd.

The Williams driver earned that by battling through the midfield after a relatively early stop.

A late pitstop meant Fernando Alonso ran as high as fourth, despite losing ground taking to the grass to avoid the Sainz and Massa collision on lap one.

Even after being passed by Stroll’s more powerful Williams, Alonso stuck with the rookie and was on course to score McLaren-Honda’s first point of 2017 only to retire with yet another Honda problem on the penultimate lap.

While Alonso climbed into the grandstand to meet fans, his retirement elevated the recovering Grosjean to the final point – just ahead of Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen – who lost ground with a penalty for overtaking Stoffel Vandoorne under virtual safety car conditions.

Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat had a crazy race – failing to get away for the formation lap, then being given a drive-through penalty for regaining his grid slot, a further time penalty as the race stewards deemed their first sanction was “incorrect” and then having a chaotic pitstop just after complaining of vibrations. He ultimately retired from last place.

This was the perfect weekend for Lewis Hamilton. Equalling his hero’s qualifying achievement with 65 pole positions and scoring a grand slam in the race by leading every lap and setting the quickest time. Just 12 points separate the two title rivals. It’s game on for the championship.

Canadian Grand Prix, race results after 70 laps:
1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1h33m05.154s
2    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    19.783s
3    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    35.297s
4    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    35.907s
5    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    40.476s
6    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    40.716s
7    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    58.632s
8    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    1m00.374s
9    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    1 Lap
10    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1 Lap
11    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1 Lap
12    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    1 Lap
13    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1 Lap
14    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    1 Lap
15    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    2 Laps
16    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    Engine
–    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    Wheel
–    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    Battery
–    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    Collision
–    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    Collision

Drivers’ standings:
1    Sebastian Vettel    141
2    Lewis Hamilton    129
3    Valtteri Bottas    93
4    Kimi Raikkonen    73
5    Daniel Ricciardo    67
6    Max Verstappen    45
7    Sergio Perez    44
8    Esteban Ocon    27
9    Carlos Sainz    25
10    Felipe Massa    20
11    Nico Hulkenberg    18
12    Romain Grosjean    10
13    Kevin Magnussen    5
14    Pascal Wehrlein    4
15    Daniil Kvyat    4
16    Lance Stroll    2
17    Jolyon Palmer    0
18    Marcus Ericsson    0
19    Fernando Alonso    0
20    Antonio Giovinazzi    0
21    Stoffel Vandoorne    0

Constructors’ standings:
1    Mercedes    222
2    Ferrari    214
3    Red Bull-Renault    112
4    Force India-Mercedes    71
5    Toro Rosso-Renault    29
6    Williams-Mercedes    22
7    Renault    18
8    Haas-Ferrari    15
9    Sauber-Ferrari    4
10    McLaren-Honda    0

Hamilton upstages Vettel to take Canadian pole and equals Senna’s pole record

Lewis Hamilton beat his Formula 1 title rival Sebastian Vettel to pole position for the Canadian Grand Prix and equal his hero’s achievement of 65 pole positions.

Ferrari had set the pace in practice, but when it mattered in qualifying Hamilton produced the result. The Mercedes driver lapped below one minute, 12 seconds for the first time this weekend in Q1 and never looked back.

Hamilton was fastest of all in Q2 before setting a new lap record at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve to claim pole in Q3.

Hamilton took provisional pole with a one minute, 11.791 seconds lap on his first run, before Vettel attempted to respond, falling short by just 0.004 seconds thanks to a wild moment coming out of the Turn 6/7 chicane.

Hamilton then lowered his own benchmark with one minute, 11.459 seconds on his second run to seal pole, before Vettel shaved 0.006 seconds off his own best time.

This allowed the Ferrari driver to beat Hamilton’s earlier Q3 best, but still left Vettel 0.336 seconds short of taking the top spot.

Valtteri Bottas was third fastest. He was fractionally quicker than his Mercedes team-mate in Q1 and not far behind in Q2, but was well beaten in Q3, finishing over seven tenths of a second down.

Friday pacesetter Kimi Raikkonen brushed the wall in Q1 and ended up fourth fastest overall for Ferrari, complaining of a “really shit” first corner on his quickest lap.

The Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo claimed row three of the grid, separated by 0.154 seconds, with Verstappen lapping within two tenths of the second.

Felipe Massa was seventh fastest for Williams and the only other driver to lap below one minute, 13 seconds, ahead of Force India pairing Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, and impressive Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg, who rounded out the top ten.

Neither Toro Rosso driver made it through to Q3, after a messy session that featured a spin for Carlos Sainz at Turn 1 and Daniil Kvyat glancing the wall at Turn 9 and picking up a puncture.

Kvyat wound up P11, 0.284 seconds shy of the cut, while Sainz was P13.

Fernando Alonso split the Toro Rossos by lapping his McLaren-Honda in P12, only 0.003 seconds shy of beating Kvyat and despite initially complaining of having less power available from the engine than he’d enjoyed in Q1.

Romain Grosjean struggled with a lack of grip from his final set of ultra-soft Pirelli tyres, saying they gave him “absolutely nothing” as he wound up P14.

Jolyon Palmer was P15 in the second of the two works Renaults, also complaining of “no grip”. He was within two tenths of team-mate Hulkenberg in Q1, but struggled badly in Q2, including suffering a brief off at Turn 1.

A crash for Pascal Wehrlein’s Sauber at the same corner ended Q1, as it forced several drivers to abandon late efforts to improve.

Having complained about being used by his team-mate ‘unfairly’ for a tow in the second half of the session, Sainz managed to squeak into Q2.

Sainz lapped 0.131 seconds clear of Stoffel Vandoorne’s McLaren-Honda, which was eliminated in Q1 for the sixth time in seven attempts this season.

Lance Stroll also failed to escape the bottom five in qualifying for his home race, the Williams rookie finishing the session 0.027 seconds behind Vandoorne in P17.

Kevin Magnussen complained of encountering traffic “every single lap” as he wound up only P18, less than two tenths clear of Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber.

Wehrlein lapped slowest of all, 0.315 seconds down on Ericsson, and ended up with his Sauber missing its rear wing after he approached Turn 1 on too wide a line and lost the rear of the car under braking.

So a fantastic qualifying result for Lewis Hamilton. The triple champion received a race worn helmet presented by the Ayrton Senna family as a honour for equalling the great driver’s record of 65 pole positions. The emotions from Hamilton said it all.

Qualifying positions, Canadian Grand Prix:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m11.459s
2    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m11.789s
3    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    1m12.177s
4    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m12.252s
5    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m12.403s
6    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m12.557s
7    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m12.858s
8    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m13.018s
9    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    1m13.135s
10    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    1m13.271s
11    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m13.690s
12    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m13.693s
13    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m13.756s
14    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m13.839s
15    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m14.293s
16    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    1m14.182s
17    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    1m14.209s
18    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    1m14.318s
19    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m14.495s
20    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    1m14.810s