Daniel Ricciardo took a surprise victory from tenth on the grid to win an eventful Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The Red Bull driver took advantage of several incidents which saw both Lewis Hamilton and title rival Sebastian Vettel be awarded penalties in the race.
The win will be a surprise for Red Bull in a weekend where they excepted not to be fighting with Mercedes and Ferrari.
Ricciardo will be pleased with his win from tenth after the crash in qualifying and being forced into an early stop as Red Bull needed to clear debris from his brake ducts.
Ricciardo said “I can’t really believe it. It was a crazy race. We knew the podium was a chance after the restart, then we heard of the problems with Lewis and Seb.”
“I made an unplanned pitstop at the beginning, and I dropped to 17th place. Did I think I would win today? Not for all my money but this was the race we expected last year all the safety cars and the chaos.”
It was an impressive afternoon for Williams’s Lance Stroll, the Canadian made his way from eightieth to second place. However, he came under pressure in the closing laps From Bottas, with the Mercedes getting passed on the final lap.
The two title contenders made contact behind the safety car, with the stewards punishing Vettel for running into the back of the Mercedes. The next clash saw Vettel driving his Ferrari in anger into the back of the Mercedes earning himself a ten second stop go penalty.
Hamilton looked as he could have regained the position, but he was forced into an extra pit stop after his head rest came loose. That meant his stop was longer than the penalty which was awarded to Vettel and re-joined behind the Ferrari.
But that will be no help to Hamilton as he still finished one place behind Vettel, which means the German has extended his lead to fourteen points in the championship.
Hamilton told Sky Sports “I don’t really care about [the incident with Seb]. It’s done and dusted and we move on. I think it’s just not driver conduct. It’s dangerous driving and to get a 10-second penalty for that… I don’t need to say anything else.”
Vettel told BBC News it was “quite obvious” Hamilton had brake-tested him. Adding “I don’t run into the back of him on purpose. I damaged my wing, he had a little damage as well. His restart was really good, I didn’t think it was necessary.”
“The problem is me right behind getting ready and all the other cars. He did something similar a couple of years ago in China at the restart. It is not the way to do it.”
It wasn’t only the title contenders fighting, their team-mates also made contact. Raikkonen got ahead of Bottas going into Turn Two but hit the kerb as the Mercedes lost momentum on the exit.
Force India’s Esteban Ocon finished sixth, that was despite crashing with Sergio Perez. The collision brought out the red flag, after the restart. They collided at turn two as Perez got alongside Ocon and his front wing made contact with the front tyre.
That brought the safety car back out which lead to Fernando Alonso saying on the radio to say the race should be red-flagged because there was so much debris. “This circuit is too fast to have this risk,” he said. Shortly afterwards, the red flag was thrown and the race stopped for 15 minutes.
However, Perez later recovered from the accident to finish sixth while Ocon retired. The collision is likely to raise questions once again for Force India, after strengthening the ‘rules of engagement’ and a row over team orders in Montreal the cars collided again.
On the next restart, Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg who looked set for another strong finish and fighting with Haas’s Romain Grosjean misjudged turn seven hitting the wall breaking his front suspension.
Kevin Magnussen was seventh for Haas, ahead of Carlos Sainz and the McLaren of Fernando Alonso. With Alonso overcoming a loss of battery power to score McLarens first points of the season.
Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlien took tenth following a clean fight with his team-mate Marcus Ericsson. But, there was some tension between the two as Ericsson to let Wehrlein through as Stoffel Vandoorne gained on them on fresh tyres.
Vandoorne could not pass either Sauber and finished twelfth.
- NOTEBOOK – Azerbaijan Qualifying
- AZERBAIJAN GP – Qualifying Result
- AZERBAIJAN GP – Hamilton pulls it out the bag beating Bottas in the closing moments to take pole
- NOTEBOOK – Azerbaijan Practice
- AZERBAIJAN GP – Verstappen tops a scrappy second practice from Bottas and Ricciardo
- AZERBAIJAN GP – Verstappen and Ricciardo top first practice over Ferrari
- PREVIEW – Azerbaijan Grand Prix