Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo claimed an unexpected victory in a chaotic and controversial Azerbaijan GP as Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel’s title rivalry ignited.
“I can’t really believe it. It was a crazy race,” said Ricciardo, “We knew the podium was a chance after the restart, then we heard of the problems with Lewis and Seb.” Problems indeed…
Valtteri Bottas finished second from last and Williams teenager Lance Stroll a brilliant third in a crazy Baku race which provided no end of action – Bottas taking second from Stroll quite literally on the finish line.
Hamilton and Vettel had been running first and second respectively before the Ferrari driver was punished by race stewards after twice hitting the Mercedes while running behind a Safety Car.
Vettel appeared to take his anger out on Hamilton for what he claimed was a brake test by driving straight into the Mercedes’ front wheel behind the safety car, earning the German a 10-second stop-and-go-penalty.
In frustrating circumstances as far as Hamilton was concerned, the penalised Vettel still finished one place ahead of him with fourth to extend his championship lead to 14 points.
Hamilton was still on course for victory before he had to make an unscheduled pit stop on safety grounds when the head rest in his Mercedes worked its way loose. With the Mercedes repairs taking longer than Vettel’s penalty, Hamilton re-emerged onto the track just behind the Ferrari.
Was Vettel’s penalty enough? We will see in the coming days as the FIA review the incident and whether the in-race penalty was sufficient. Watch the video below to make up your own mind…
Race winner Ricciardo had started 10th after a crash in qualifying and had dropped as low as 17th after an early pit stop to clear debris from his car’s brake ducts. Being at the back of the pack proved the best option to avoid all the incidents in the early stages.
Esteban Ocon was sixth despite earlier crashing with Force India team-mate Sergio Perez, while Fernando Alonso finally opened McLaren’s points account with ninth from 19th on the grid.
News will center around the title rivals now ignited rivalry. In stark contrast to Hamilton’s previous all-Mercedes rivalry with Nico Rosberg, his title duel with Vettel had been conducted on a professional basis with both multiple champions showering praise on each other.
But whether that stays the same after Baku now appears doubtful.
Hamilton said after the race “The fact that that’s the only kind of result [the penalty] you could get from such disgusting driving, that means for the whole paddock we can all drive like that and you can still score fourth place and still get away with it.”
Azerbaijan GP Race Result
1. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull
2. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
3. Lance Stroll, Williams
4. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari
5. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
6. Esteban Ocon, Force India
7. Kevin Magnussen, Haas
8. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso
9. Fernando Alonso, McLaren
10. Pascal Wehrlein, Sauber
11. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber
12. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren
13. Romain Grosjean, Haas
Did Not Finish: Kimi Raikkonen, Sergio Perez, Felipe Massa, Nico Hulkenberg, Max Verstappen, Daniil Kvyat, Jolyon Palmer