Mercedes-AMG’s Lewis Hamilton secured his first-ever win in the Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix after a bout of luck on more than one occasion during Sunday’s eventful race in Baku.
Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen crossed the finish line second just 2.460 seconds back while Force India’s Sergio Perez claimed the final spot on the podium after crossing the line 4.024 behind Hamilton.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel started on pole and had been in the lead for much of the race but then things took a totally unpredictable turn.
On lap 40, Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo ran into the rear of his teammate Max Verstappen as the two aggressively battled it out behind the lead pack, with the stewards as well as team boss Christian Horner later determining both drivers to be at fault. This was after they had already made contact on lap 14, with Verstappen refusing to give the faster Ricciardo space to move ahead.
Their crash brought out the safety car, leading Ferrari to pit its drivers for a second time for fresh tires. This gave Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, who was on a one-stop strategy, the lead position. Then Haas’ Romain Grosjean in attempt to warm his tires crashed into a wall causing the safety car period to be extended about 10 laps from the end of the race.
Eventually, there would be just a four-lap sprint to the finish, with Bottas in the lead and Vettel on his tail. Vettel tried a late pass but overshot on a corner and flat spotted his tires, causing him to fall back to fourth, with Hamilton and Räikkönen gaining in the process.
But that wasn’t the end of the excitement as Bottas, tragically, would suffer a right rear puncture after running over some debris right at the end. Vettel would eventually cross the line fourth followed by Renault’s Carlos Sainz to round out the top five spots.
Hamilton would later say that it was Bottas who deserved to be the winner, and that he was grateful for the outcome. He should be as he has now moved into the lead spot in the 2018 Drivers’ Championship with 70 points while Vettel has dropped to second with 66 points. Räikkönen is third with 48 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Ferrari leads with 114 points versus the 110 of Mercedes and 55 of Red Bull. The next race on the calendar is the Spanish Grand Prix in a fortnight.