AZERBAIJAN GRAND PRIX: RACE REVIEW

Formula 1 news story about AZERBAIJAN GRAND PRIX: RACE REVIEW

Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo has won a thrilling safety car and red flag-affected Azerbaijan Grand Prix, taking his fifth career win in incredible circumstances - after Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton’s campaigns fell apart.

Ricciardo, who was 17th at the end of Lap 6, rose to fifth through three safety cars and one red flag period - but jumped up to third at the re-start on Lap 24, passing both Force Indias.

He then took the lead after Vettel and Hamilton had to pit for very different reasons. Vettel was given a 10-second stop-go penalty for his controversial clash with Hamilton under the safety car, where he seemingly bumped wheels with the Brit in retaliation for what he saw as a brake test; while Hamilton had to stop to re-fasten a loose headrest on safety grounds.

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas was second, the Finn chasing down - and then passing - Williams rookie Lance Stroll on the line, who took his first podium - and the first for a Canadian since Jacques Villeneuve at the 2001 German Grand Prix.

“It was a crazy race,” Ricciardo said.

“We knew the podium was a chance after the restart, but then we heard obviously the problems with Lewis and Seb. It was just a crazy race. I made an unplanned pit stop at the beginning, after some laps we had some debris in the brakes so we had to stop and clean it and we dropped back to 17th place so did I think then I’d win today? Absolutely not. I would have put all my money on it that this was unlikely.”

The unpredictable Azerbaijan Grand Prix has meant Vettel has marginally extended his championship lead, to 14 points. Ahead is the Austrian Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.

Pos No Driver Car Laps Time/Retired Pts
1 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 51 2:03:55.573 25
2 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 51 +3.904s 18
3 18 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 51 +4.009s 15
4 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 51 +5.976s 12
5 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 51 +6.188s 10
6 31 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 51 +30.298s 8

Here’s how the 2017 FORMULA 1 AZERBAIJAN GRAND PRIX played-out lap-by-lap:

Build Up:
The second Grand Prix in Baku should be an interesting prospect, with the drivers set to push harder than last year with the 2017-spec cars. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton starts from pole, his 66th, eclipsing his childhood hero Ayrton Senna for second on the all-time list - Michael Schumacher now just two ahead.

Hamilton has his teammate Bottas behind, will there be carnage or will it be a team effort into Turn 1 - with the Ferraris directly behind, Kimi Raikkonen (P3) ahead of Sebastian Vettel (P4), who’s never won from a position lower than third. Will we see the Scuderia’s drivers swap into Turn 1 - with Hamilton now just 12 points behind on the standings. Williams’ Lance Stroll starts from P8, ahead of Felipe Massa - the first time the Canadian rookie has out qualified his teammate.

The Red Bulls start from P5, with Max Verstappen - can he get ahead of the Ferrari drivers at the first corner? Daniel Ricciardo starts from P10, well back from his usual spot, after touching the wall in qualifying. Dr Helmut Marko says the team can get one of its drivers on the podium.

The race is expected to be a one-stop, with those on the supersofts likely to last up to Lap 24 - before switching to the softs for the remainder of the race. A 2-stopper would be on laps 16 and then 33, for the switch to the softs, but only exceptional circumstances would bring this one into play.

Formation Lap:
Top-10 are all on used supersofts, all the rest are on new supersofts - except for Grosjean, Ericsson and Vandoorne, all on softs that are about 1.3 seconds a lap slower than the supersofts.

Lap 1:
Hamilton gets a great start, but Raikkonen has had contact into Turn 2 with Bottas - dropping him down the order. Vettel is up to P2, as the yellow flags fly in sector 1. Replay shows Sainz spinning after Turn 2, as Kyvat returns onto the track. Bottas hits Raikkonen, who makes contact with the wall.

Lap 2:
Hamilton leads Vettel, 1.9 seconds the gap. Perez up to third, ahead of red Bull’s Max Verstappen, Raikkonen, Massa, Ocon, Stroll, Ricciardo and Hulkenberg. Carbon fibre from Verstappen’s front wing hit Raikkonen’s car as they went through Turns 8-11.

Lap 3:
Hamilton sets the fastest lap, 1:48.039. As Bottas pits for a new front wing and switches to the softs. Verstappen says he has damage. Raikkonen is within a second of Verstappen, in P7. Ricciardo in P9 is chasing down Stroll. Bottas and Raikkonen are being investigated by the stewards for their clash on Lap 1. Raikkonen says his car doesn’t feel very good.

Lap 4:
Verstappen sets the fastest lap, a 1:47.580 - three tenths up on those ahead of him. Top-10 is Hamilton, Vettel, Perez, Verstappen, Raikkonen, Massa, Ocon, Stroll, Ricciardo and Hulkenberg. Hamilton asks his team about his teammate and where he is. s

Lap 5:
Hamilton is pulling out a gap to Vettel, now 2.7 seconds as the Brit sets another fastest lap - 1:46.942. Verstappen in P4 is still chasing down the Force India of Perez, 0.9 seconds the gap.

Lap 6:
Hamilton sets yet another fastest lap, a 1:46.381 - 3.3 seconds ahead of the Ferrari of Vettel. Ricciardo pits, 5.5 second stop, very slow to check for debris - he goes onto the softs. Palmer is up to P15, can he get into the points? It’s a big ask. Alonso in P13 is 0.6 seconds behind Ericsson.

Lap 7:
Vettel is pulling in the gap to Hamilton, now 3.2 seconds - the German and Hamilton doing similar times, 1:46.8s. Ericsson in P12 is being trailed by Alonso, with the Swede lacking hybrid power. No further action on the first lap touch between Raikkonen and Hamilton.

Lap 8:
Ricciardo is down in P15, after passing Wehrlein down the straight, long way to go for points. Order is Hamilton, Vettel, Perez, Verstappen, Raikkonen, Massa, Ocon, Stroll, Hulkenberg, Magnussen. Palmer retires after he complained of vibrations.

Lap 9:
Hamilton sets the fastest lap, a 1:46.294 - he’s now 3.8 seconds ahead of Vettel. Alonso is the biggest battle at the moment, and he’s all over the back of Ericsson. Can he pass the Swede? He does at Turn 3, and moves up to P12.

Lap 10:
Vettel sets the fastest lap, a 1:46.224 - responding to Hamilton, 0.3 sec faster than Hamilton on that last lap. Ricciardo passes Ericsson and Sainz to move up to P13 down the pit straight.

Lap 11:
Yellow flags at sector 2 - Kvyat stopped by the side of the track. Verstappen is racing Perez hard, tries to get past into Turn 1 - but can’t. He’s all over the back of the Mexican. Kvyat still on the track at the exit of Turn 12, could we see a safety car? Verstappen is slowing, he has issues with his engine.

Lap 12:
Verstappen slowing - he’s now down to P7, and is falling down the order. He’s now down to P8, after Stroll gets past. “Yep, here we go again!” says the Dutchman. Could this be the straw that broke the camel’s back for the talented Verstappen?

Lap 13:
Safety car is out to recover Kvyat’s car, quite a late deployment. Hamilton and Vettel pit, Hamilton moving to softs (3.0 seconds) - Vettel softs as well and 2.7 second stop. Perez, Raikkonen, Massa, and Ocon also pit, as does Bottas. While Verstappen pits, mechanics try to change steering settings. The Dutchman, naturally, looks frustrated. He’s now retired. Hamilton complains safety car is driving too slow.

Lap 14:
We’re still under the safety car, Raikkonen’s bargeboard is hanging off the car. Stroll and Hulkenberg pit. Order is Hamilton, Vettel, Perez, Raikkonen, Massa, Ocon, Stroll, Hulkenberg, Magnussen and Ricciardo. Then it’s Alonso in P11, Sainz, Vandoorne, Ericsson, Grosjean, Wehrlein and Bottas - who may come back on the lead lap if safety car releases him. Kvyat’s car is still being recovered.

Lap 15:
The safety car is still out. Vettel has a big chance at this restart to take on Hamilton, will we see it though? Replay shows Lance Stroll braking very heavily for pit lane during his stop, did he make it? Grosjean has pitted from P15, and is back out. Lapped cars can now overtake, so Bottas is able to get on the lead lap.

Lap 16:
We’re still under the safety car, as we’ve seen Bottas drive over some carbon fibre - will he have a puncture? Hamilton asks if he needs to slow the safety car down to allow Bottas to get to the back. The safety car is in at the end of this lap, as Vettel prepares to take on Hamilton.

Lap 17:
Hamilton leads, but Perez tries to pass Vettel - as Raikkonen drops down to P6 with damage. Safety car is again out, with debris from Raikkonen down the pit straight. Order is Hamilton, Vettel, Perez, Massa, Ocon, Raikkonen, Stroll, Hulkenberg, Ricciardo, Magnussen, Alonso, Sainz, Vandoorne, Grosjean, Ericsson, Wehrlein, Bottas. Hamilton almost overtook safety car at the first safety car line - advised by engineers.

Lap 18:
Hamilton asks if big crash, but advised debris from restart. Ricciardo told to stay in the middle of the track to avoid debris.

Lap 19:
Hamilton advising safety car needs to speed up, too slow. Safety car is in this lap. But Hamilton will have to be careful not to overtake safety car - and not be overtaken by Vettel. Vettel hit into Hamilton at exit of Turn 15, could have damaged front wing.

Lap 20:
Hamilton leads, Massa dragging with Vettel - but gets ahead of Perez as the Force Indias touch, Ocon passing Perez and forces him into the wall. Raikkonen has a puncture, right rear - he’s down the order into P15. Safety car has been deployed again, for the third time.

Lap 21:
Safety car out as Raikkonen still limps back to the pits - the tyre flailing into the side of the car. Both Force Indias pit. Perez has no right rear tyre but stays in the pit as mechanics work on the car, Raikkonen’s puncture has damaged floor and front-left wishbone cracked. Order is now Hamilton, Vettel, Massa, Stroll, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Magnussen, Alonso and Sainz. Track is littered with debris.

Lap 22:
Perez has now retired, as the safety car continues. 15 runners still out there. Williams has a huge potential points gain with Massa and Stroll in P3 and P4. Alonso says the race should be red flagged, with debris. The race has now been red-flagged with proliferation of debris. Order is Hamilton, Vettel, Massa, Stroll, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Magnussen, Alonso, Sainz, Grosjean, Ericsson, Vandoorne, Bottas, Ocon, Wehrlein.

Replays are showing Hamilton slowing at exit of Turn 15, with Vettel hitting him in the back, with the German then moving alongside on the left - and then hitting into his left front tyre as a second hit. Vettel asks - “did he just brake test me?” Vettel’s action looks very questionable. But was he unaware of where his right front was? Mercedes mechanics are making repairs to the W08’s diffuser. The incident is under investigation. Vettel’s front wing has been allowed to change. Perez is back in the race, his damage repaired. Raikkonen’s crew is also frantically trying to get his car back out, the Scuderia does so - and he’s starting from the back.

Lap 23:
Perez and Raikkonen are let out to unlap themselves, before the cars come out behind the safety car. The field is now circulating behind the Safety Car. Will we see a penalty for Vettel? Massa says he thinks he has a problem with the car. Safety car in this lap. Vettel is staying close to Hamilton, very close indeed.

Lap 24:
Hamilton is followed by Vettel, as Daniel Ricciardo passed both Williams to take P3 into Turn 1. Hulkenberg tries to take Massa into Turn 3, but can’t make it stick. Vettel is just 0.4 seconds behind Hamilton. Hulkenberg is all over Massa - and passes him down the straight - as Magnussen passes them both and goes up into P6.

Lap 25:
Massa’s front suspension looks to be the issue. Hamilton is 1-seconds up on Vettel, Ricciardo is 1.2 seconds behind Vettel. Hulkenberg’s right front is bent after contact with the wall at Turn 7, he stops at Turn 8.

Lap 26:
Ocon passes Grosjean for P8. Massa pits, and needs to retire as the mechanics test his rear suspension.

Lap 27:
Hamilton sets the fastest lap, a 1:45.577. He’s now 2-seconds ahead of Vettel, while Stroll is 0.6 seconds behind Ricciardo in P4. It’s Hamilton, Vettel, Ricciardo, Stroll, Magnussen, Alonso, Sainz, Ocon, Bottas, Grosjean, Vandoorne, Ericsson, Wehrlein - Perez and Raikkonen are one lap down.

Lap 28:
Hamilton leads Vettel by 2.2 seconds. Sainz in P7 is holding up Ocon and Bottas behind him.

Lap 29:
Hamilton sets the fastest lap, a 1:44.942 - and is 0.3 seconds up on Vettel. The side of Hamilton’s cockpit, the headrest and padding is rising up with the air pressure. His engineer says knock it down with your head or hold it down.

Lap 30:
Ocon has passed Sainz, and is now into P7. Mechanics have a new headrest - will they pit him and deny him victory? Vettel’s under investigation, while Hamilton’s headrest is coming loose - could we see Ricciardo come through for the win?

Lap 31:
Hamilton leads Vettel by 1.6 seconds. Bottas passes Sainz on the straight - and is up to P8 for points. Hamilton is to pit and change headrest. This will cost him the race. The FIA has instructed him to pit, he does so and exits in P9. Vettel gets a 10-second stop-go penalty.

Lap 32:
Vettel asks when he did dangerous driving.

Lap 33:
Hamilton is up to P8, he’s 28-seconds behind the leader. Vettel told to box.

Lap 34:
Vettel pits from the lead, handing it to Ricciardo, with Stroll behind. Vettel gets back ahead of Hamilton in P7. Raikkonen gets a drive-through penalty for work done on the car out of the fast lane - as does Perez.

Lap 35:
Ricciardo leads this race - the first time Red Bull has led a lap this year - 3.9 seconds ahead of Stroll. Magnussen is third. Then it’s Ocon, Bottas, Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton, Sainz and Grosjean closes out the top-10. Hamilton is all over Vettel 0.8 seconds the gap.

Lap 36:
Vettel passes Alonso into Turn 3, as Hamilton takes him into Turn 4 - the pair now P6 and P7. Ricciardo is pulling away from Stroll, the Canadian is 0.9 seconds slower on that last lap.

Lap 37:
Hamilton is 0.3 seconds behind Vettel and pushing hard to try and pass the Ferrari.

Lap 38:
Ocon and Bottas pass Magnussen down the pit straight - for P3 and P4. The two Saubers touch into Turn 15, colliding.

Lap 39:
Ricciardo leads Stroll by 4.7 seconds, Ocon in P3 is 18-seconds behind the leader. Bottas in P4 is all over Ocon.

Lap 40:
Bottas takes Ocon down the pit straight - takes the final podium place, he’s set the fastest lap, a 1:44.933. Ocon is now falling into the clutches of Vettel and Hamilton.

Lap 41:
Ricciardo has responded with a personal best lap, a 1:45.3, as has Stroll with a 1:45.7 - but Bottas is on fire, sets the fastest lap, a 1:44.398. Perez told to retire the car, so that means just 14 finishers.

Lap 42:
Vettel passes Ocon into Turn 1, but can Ocon keep Hamilton behind him? Bottas is expected to be right with the leaders in eight or so laps. This is going to be a thrilling end to a thrilling race.

Lap 43:
Ricciardo leads Stroll, but Bottas has just set another fastest lap, a 1:44.315. Hamilton passes Ocon into Turn 1, with a brave move - moves up into P5. Ricciardo is staying cool, he was P17 at the end of lap 6, so this is an incredible race for the Australian.

Lap 44:
Bottas sets another fastest lap, a 1:44.036 - around 1 second faster than Ricciardo and 1.2 secs faster than Stroll on that last lap. Stroll told to keep his pace up with personal best sectors.

Lap 45:
Hamilton sets the fastest lap, a 1:43.840 - in an attempt to catch Vettel. Bottas is still doing 1:44.1s - a second up on the lead pair.

Lap 46:
Ricciardo leads Stroll by 5.4 seconds, Bottas is 6.8 seconds behind in P3. Vettel sets the fastest lap, a 1:43.630 - he’s 2-seconds ahead of Hamilton, who is in P5.

Lap 47:
Alonso in P9 is set to take his first points for the year. Hamilton sets the fastest lap, a 1:43.469.

Lap 48:
Vettel sets the fastest lap, a 1:43.441. Ricciardo leads Stroll, Bottas, Vettel, Hamilton, Ocon, Magnussen, Sainz, Alonso and Wehrlein - though it’s likely he’ll move over to hand the place back to teammate Ericsson. Raikkonen has pitted, and will retire - so just 13 runners now.

Lap 49:
Bottas in P3 is closing down Stroll - 2.6 seconds the gap now.

Lap 50:
Ricciardo leads Stroll by 5.4 seconds - Bottas is just 1.7 seconds adrift now. Vettel is 2.5 seconds behind Bottas, with Hamilton 0.8 secs behind. Bottas is charging up for the final lap.

Lap 51 - FINAL LAP:
Bottas passes Stroll on the line, demoting the Canadian rookie to third. Ricciardo wins his first Grand Prix since Malaysia 2016, his fifth career victory after a thrilling safety car and red flag affected race on the streets of Baku.

Pos No Driver Car Laps Time/Retired Pts
1 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 51 2:03:55.573 25
2 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 51 +3.904s 18
3 18 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 51 +4.009s 15
4 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 51 +5.976s 12
5 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 51 +6.188s 10
6 31 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 51 +30.298s 8
7 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 51 +41.753s 6
8 55 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 51 +49.400s 4
9 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 51 +59.551s 2
10 94 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 51 +89.093s 1
11 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 51 +91.794s 0
12 2 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Honda 51 +92.160s 0
13 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 50 +1 lap 0
14 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 46 DNF 0
NC 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 39 DNF 0
NC 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes 25 DNF 0
NC 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 24 DNF 0
NC 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 12 DNF 0
NC 26 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 9 DNF 0
NC 30 Jolyon Palmer Renault 7 DNF 0