Lewis Hamilton Wins The Azerbaijan Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton has won the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
It was a thrilling race right from the get-go. Vettel had a good start at the opening corner, and Hamilton slotted in right behind.
The same couldn’t be said for Ocon and Raikkonen. Raikkonen dives in the inside corner of Ocon, and the pair collided. Ocon is out of the race, but Raikkonen still fought to live another day.
Joining Ocon, Sirotkin exited the race at the same turn just on the other side of the track. A safety car was deployed on the first lap.
It also wasn’t a good start for veteran Alonso who had to crawl back to the pits with a double puncture. He just about made it back to the pits, and joined the race ready to fight.
Fernando Alonso, speaking about Sergey Sirotkin after they made contact:
What a stupid guy. He closed the door, we were side-by-side.
Also in the first lap; Raikkonen had to make his way to the pits to mend damage made to his car following his collision with Ocon.
More carinage around Magnussen who also had a double puncture. Joining Magnussen was Perez who had front wing damage from his race incident with Sirotkin.
All of the above, and it’s only the second lap of the race. Just to sum up:
Vettel leading Hamilton
Safety car deployed
Alonso suffers a double-puncture
Sirotkin and Ocon out of the race
A restart on lap five, and Vettel makes an amazing advantage. The red bulls almost collided but Verstappen came out on top, overtaking Ricciardo. Sainz and Verstappen continue their fight on the seventh lap, with Verstappen coming out on top, and moving into fourth place less than 10 laps into the race.
Lap nine, and Sainz makes an amazing move on Verstappen to move into fourth place. Verstappen was having some battery issues, with Hulkenberg also overtaking him to move into fifth place.
Here is an exchange between Verstappen and his engineer
Max Verstappen: Why is this thing not charging?
Race engineer: Focus on getting temperature in the tyres. It will get better.
At lap 10 Vettel is three seconds clear of Hamilton. Hamilton also three seconds clear of Bottas.
Turn 4, lap 11 and Nico Hulkenberg goes into a wall, and that marks the end of his race for today.
The red bulls in lap 12 are fighting against each other for fifth place. Verstappen clipped Ricciardo but luckily no major damage to either cars. Sainz building his gap on both red bulls.
Lap 16 and both red bull cars are still struggling with battery issues.
Daniel Ricciardo: It's still draining the battery.
Race engineer: It is getting there, it's filling up, this is as fast as it can go.
Sainz pits at lap 16 in fourth place. He started off on the ultra-soft and returns to the race in 13th place.
At lap 17, and Raikkonen is gaining. He started in sixth, hit Ocon, dropped to 11th and is now back to sixth after overtaking Leclerc.
Lap 19 and Hamilton records the fastest lap of the day, but is still sitting more than four seconds behind Vettel.
Lap 20 and an earlier incident for Magnussen means he now faces a 10-second penalty.
Lap 22 and Hamilton pits. It was an impressive pit-stop and he comes out ahead of Verstappen. Hamilton is not happy with his team.
Lewis Hamilton: Don't mess with me with the switch changes.
Race engineer: Copy.
Lap 24 and Perez has been peaniled for being too quick on the second start following the safety car. He has been given a five-second penalty.
Half way through the race, and it’s Vettel’s to lose. He is around 12 seconds ahead.
Fastest lap goes to Ricciardo, just as his team mate Verstappen overtakes him.
Verstappen playing a very risky game, racing his team mate rather than the other 18 racers. Newey and Horner sweating whilst their drives go at each other.
Lap 29 and still waiting for Ferrari pit stops, Red Bull pit stops and Bottas.
Vettel pits, and comes back out on the red supersoft tyres. The same as Hamilton. He comes back out behind Bottas who now leads the race. Questions are being asked as to whether Bottas stays out, and pushes till the end, or comes in and settles for second or third best.
A huge moment for Grosjean who started the race in 20th, and has moved up to eighth position by lap 30.
Lap 32 and Raikkonen is frustrated.
Raikkonen: It's difficult to get these tyres to warm up. Is there anything you can give me to warm these up?
Race Engineer: Understood.
Raikkonen: Can you help or what!?
Lap 35 and Ricciardo drives past Verstappen at the first corner. Great move on his team mate. Turns out, they were doomed from the beginning.
Lap 40 and Adrian Newey walks away in disgust over Ricciardo and Verstappen crashing. Both cars are out of the race. Ricciardo went into the back of Verstappen after Verstappen tried to double-bluff his team mate. Bad move from Verstappen in my opinion, especially in the breaking zone.
Bottas having a great race. He comes in just as a safety car is deployed. Perfect timing. He now sits in first place. For the second time this season, Romain Grosjean crashes. This time, under a safety car deployment. Such a shame as he was racing so well.
Ricciardo and Verstappen head back to the red bull rooms, both in for a nightmare of an afternoon I’m sure.
Seven laps to go, and there is a safety car, and also a medical car out to pick up Grosjean's car. He gets into the medical car (he’s OK). It’s an automatic medical car is a sensor gets triggered by too hard a hit, and that’s what happened here.
Lap 46, and there was still a safety car. Hamilton says the following on the radio.
Lewis Hamilton: Tell [race director] Charlie [Whiting] that he should have stopped the race. The back corner of that recovery truck could easily be smashed into.
Lap 47, and the green flag is given. The race is back on and Hamilton has caught Vettel sleeping. It was all happening on one corner. Vettel gets overtaken by both Hamilton and Raikkonen.
It all went wrong for Bottas just two laps from the end. He got a puncture, and he went from leading the race to retiring. What a shocking day for so many of the best racers. Bottas, Grosjean, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Ocon, Sirotkin all retiring from the race. Only 13 racers made it to the finishing line. What a race.
A huge congratulations to Hamilton for winning such an intense race in Azerbaijan.
Here is how the race finished.
#1: Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes - 25 points
#2: Kimi Raikkonen - Ferrari - 18 points
#3: Sergio Perez - Force India/Mercedes - 15 points
#4: Sebastian Vettel - Ferrari - 12 points
#5: Carlos Sainz - Renault - 10 points
#6: Charles Leclerc - Sauber/Ferrari - 8 points
#7: Fernando Alonso - McLaren/Renault - 6 points
#8: Lance Stroll - Williams/Mercedes - 4 points
#9: Stoffel Vandoorne - McLaren/Renault - 2 points
#10: Brendon Hartley - Toro Rosso/Honda - 1 point
#11: Marcus Ericsson - Sauber/Ferrari - 0 points
#12: Pierre Gasly - Toro Rosso/Honda - 0 points
#13: Kevin Magnussen - Haas/Ferrari - 0 points
#14: Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes - 0 points
#15: Romain Grosjean - Haas/Ferrari - 0 points
#16: Max Verstappen - Red Bull/Renault - 0 points
#17: Daniel Ricciardo - Red Bull/Renault - 0 points
#18: Nico Hulkenberg - Renault - 0 points
#19: Esteban Ocon - Force India/Mercedes - 0 points
#20: Sergey Sirotkin - Williams/Mercedes - 0 points
The Spanish Grand Prix takes place on the 13th May. I'm sure Ricciardo and Verstappen will be looking to put today's race behind them, and put in a better performance at the Spanish GP.