Hamilton snatches win in thrilling finale to Azerbaijan Grand Prix

  • 29 Apr 2018 16:04
  • comments 30
  • By: Sam Gale

Lewis Hamilton has won the Azerbaijan Grand Prix to take the lead of the championship in what turned out to be a thrilling finale to the Grand Prix. His championship rival Sebastian Vettel looked set to claim a third win of the season for most of the race but a final safety car caused by the two Red Bulls clashing threw the race wide open.

The race had been a somewhat simple affair after the first safety car caused by a string of first lap collisions with Vettel leading away from pole and seemingly having the race in hand after fending off a potential undercut from Lewis Hamilton but the late race drama changed the situation entirely and handed a first victory of the season to Mercedes.

Other beneficiaries of the chaos were Sergio Perez who stole his first podium since this race two years ago, Charles Leclerc who drove a very mature race to a brilliant sixth place and his first F1 points and sauber's best result since the 2015 Russian Grand Prix, and Brendon Hartley who also scored his first F1 points in 10th place.

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Vettel managed to get away well from pole position with most cars behind him holding position but a clash between Kimi Raikkonen and Esteban Ocon ended the race for the Frenchman and forced the Finn to pit for a new front wing whilst also triggering a safety car.

On the restart Verstappen managed to get past his teammate Ricciardo, dragging the Renault of Carlos Sainz with him but problems soon struck for Red Bull with both Renaults performing synchronised passes on both Red Bulls at one point, with Verstappen complaining of a loss of power and a struggle to get his tyres up to temperature.

The Renault surge didn't last for long though with Hulkenberg making a mistake and crashing out and Sainz pitting early on his worn Ultra soft tyres leaving the path clear for the two Red Bulls to battle it out, although they ultimately didn't have the pace to challenge the three ahead and were not under any real threat from the cars behind.

As the race wore on it looked like Vettel had the situation under control out front managing the gap to Hamilton, and it only became more safe once Hamilton made a mistake going into turn 1, which led to the Brit pitting and Vettel following him in soon after, leaving Bottas in the lead momentarily but still due a pit stop.

Behind the leaders the Red Bull's were still battling late into the race with Ricciardo passing Verstappen but the Dutchman regained the position during the pit stop phase, leading to an angry Ricciardo attempting to retake fourth position from his teammate, but an ill judged dive down the inside of a weaving Verstappen led to both cars crashing out and an inquest surely to come from within the Milton Keynes team.

The  crash led to a safety car and it looked to have given the win to Valtteri Bottas, as all of the top four, and the majority of the field, pitted for fresh tyres, meaning the Finn effectively had a free pitstop on the rest of the field and giving him an immediate reprieve from last time out in China when the safety car cost him the victory.

During the safety car period Romain Grosjean, who had managed to climb his way through the field and into the points made an error whilst under the safety car and unfortunately crashing out from what would have been his first points of the season and yet more points lost for the luckless Haas team this season.

Upon the safety car restart Vettel looking for redemption after unluckily losing the lead attempted an ambitious move for the lead on Bottas, but locked up losing positions to Hamilton and Raikkonen and going from a potential win down to fourth position.

Then on the next lap Vettel on flat spotted tyres lost a place to Sergio Perez who had come through the field after being one of the drivers to have stopped early on ultra soft tyres to a brilliant fourth position which soon turned out to be an unlikely podium with Bottas picking up a puncture with only a couple of laps left to heartbreakingly end his race.

His teammate Hamilton was the main beneficiary though, as he picked up his first victory since USA last year to put him at the head of the championship table and picking up a lucky win to atone for losing the Australian Grand Prix earlier this season. The Brit will also have momentum behind him as F1 heads to traditional start of the European season in Spain and the battle for the championship really begins to heat up.

 

Sam Gale

 

AZ Baku City Circuit - 29 April 2018

Replies (30)

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  • I dont know what this race was, but whatever it was I like it! A pity it was Hammy and not Bottas though, just found that Bottas had a more impressive race all in all. Fun fact: Hammy has now been placed 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th in 4 races... Out of order mind, but still sorta funny. What the hell was Verstappen doing? That isnt what I would call "learning from China". Is the pressure getting to him? But I love how I very accurately predicted when Red Bull would bring them into the pits. XD

    Other than that: podium for Perez, double points for McLaren, points for Renault, points for Sauber, points for Williams and points for STR. So all teams are in it for points, which I really love. No doubt what F1 needs. Haas is so weird because they look really strong, yet somehow they seem to be their own greatest enemy.

    • + 1
    • Apr 29 2018 - 16:38
    • And bashing begins. At least they dare to let then fight instead of the prefictable 1-2 at Mercedes and Ferrari. Max made moves Ricciardo made wrong choices and they crash. Racing accident and no more. Both were driving over the limit so why it’s only Max fault again?

      • + 0
      • Apr 29 2018 - 17:26
    • Pauli

      Posts: 140

      It is more Max faults because he should leave enough space for Danile to get free air. When he took all space inside he also took downforce and grip from Daniel. That lost grip then caused the accident. Also Max was already moving from inside towards outside and then moved back blocking inside just in begin of breaking zone. A smart driver in that point would avoid accident leaving just enough space for one in behind have free air to break with full grip.

      • + 0
      • Apr 29 2018 - 17:35
    • Pauli

      Posts: 140

      Plus rules say "More than one change of direction to defend a position is not permitted. If a driver has moved off the racing line while defending their position, they may move back but must ensure there is at least one car’s width between their own car and the edge of the track."

      source: www.formula1.com/e(...)_and_penalties.html

      • + 0
      • Apr 29 2018 - 17:41
    • Yeah I agree with Pauli, and would like to add that its not about bashing, or at least not unfairly so (remember, I can even defend Hammy at times).

      • + 0
      • Apr 29 2018 - 17:42
    • He moved for the breaking zone. It’s visible by the onboard cam. They both took to much risc. This is racing so why pointing a finger.

      • + 0
      • Apr 29 2018 - 17:48
    • boudy

      Posts: 1,034

      Ricciardo is more to blame did he really expect max to leave space? Picture this ... turn the scenario around would you still blame the guy in front?

      • + 0
      • Apr 29 2018 - 17:55
    • Pauli

      Posts: 140

      Both took risk but IMO Max and Seb are once who are taking most unnecessary risk when defending position. Basically issue to me it that Max SHOULD leave enough space inside so accident can't happen if he knows Daniel is going inside. I assume he knows Daniel is going inside but defends like Kart driver instead of Formula driver.

      Accident wasn't only case where I feel Max was a bit too aggressive when defending against Daniel that already earlier risked accidents.

      • + 0
      • Apr 29 2018 - 17:56
    • Pauli, Please get real. You don’t leave the door open. Why did DR choose the inside. He would never be able to get his braking point.

      • + 0
      • Apr 29 2018 - 18:03
    • My issue is that Max moved twice, which is against current regulations.

      • + 2
      • Apr 29 2018 - 18:11
    • And yes Boudy, I would've found it equally weird, because its against said regulations to move twice. But it wasnt, and Ricciardo generally dont pull such moves. If you move to the outside, shouldnt it be safe for the other dude to try and get you from the inside? That is why I said what I said above. I dont dislike Max, I think he is a skilled driver, maybe even champion material, but its been how many times now? Max had made his move, Ricciardo moved in for the strike, Max moved again. Now I could understand rash moves if he was racing anyone else, but against this own team mate? Remember, earlier in this race, Ricciardo went wide to avoid a similar incident to happen, again with his team mate.

      • + 0
      • Apr 29 2018 - 18:17
    • The so called ' Verstappen Rule' was dropped last year, so moving under breaking is not against the rules. It was replaced by 'moving erratically or dangerous' The stewards reprimanded both RIC and VER after the race, and left it at that. So we can point fingers all we want... For me the point is, one could see this coming from a mile away, they touched before, and neither was going to give in. RB pit wall should have stepped in. They didnt, so they cannot fault the drivers now, they both did what they get paid for.
      And yes, Hammie got lucky, didnt see him all race, but walks away with the bubbly... it s not always fair...
      Great race to watch, great season so far!

      • + 0
      • Apr 29 2018 - 18:41
    • Fair point, but moving back and forth like that isnt what I'd call "safe" either. But I agree that RB shoulda cooled them off.
      He did a good job for sure. Just wish it'd been Bottas instead, if any Merc' driver, but either deserved the honour.

      • + 0
      • Apr 29 2018 - 18:50
    • @calle Dont get me wrong, that bubbly should have gone to Bottas, at no point in the race did HAM deserve the win. Funny to see how RAI gets back out of losing position 2 GP in a row now...the No2 drivers are staging a revolution ;)

      • + 0
      • Apr 29 2018 - 19:03
    • boudy

      Posts: 1,034

      What a season it's got it all. This season is already turning out to be an classic; so much drama. However just because Max has a lot involvement in issues that doesn't mean that he is responsible for that issue. British commentary is biased towards certain drivers so is marshalling of the GP. As an sidenote: I don't think Redbull cares since their airtime must be through the roof.

      • + 0
      • Apr 29 2018 - 19:11
    • For sure agree there Boudy, this looks like an amazing season. While I did watch the Sky airing, they are generally pretty fond of Max. But admittedly, media is media, and they will try to make a story out of anything, even if it means selling out something they actually like. I will probably still think Max were the more faulty party here, but either way this was a great race. Its hard to say whether I liked this race or Bahrain more.

      • + 0
      • Apr 29 2018 - 19:42
    • I know pretty sure that if Max had been in Ricciardo’s position, everyone would blame Max

      • + 0
      • Apr 29 2018 - 20:08
    • Pauli

      Posts: 140

      I put some real thing into my arguments then if you want:

      In formula high speed grip levels are heavily influenced by downforce. When cars follow on same path the second car behind loses large amount of downforce that affects cornering and breaking distance. By blocking inside completely Max was taking a huge risk that reduced grip simple forces exactly like this accident. If he leaves inside open for exactly a car width then Daniel has mostly free air and about similar grip and breaking distance to Max.

      Now to actual analyses if blocking inside is profitable or not for Max:
      I assign around 80% that Max would keep his position if no accident and completely blocking inside. But there is 20% chance that Daniel losse too much grip and there is accident.
      Without completely blocking inside Max would make it possible that Daniel might overtake from inside but Daniel would risk locking tyres and having too little exit speed after corner to keep the position. I estimate that Max would have about 60% chance to keep the position. But chance for an accident would be much smaller like 1%.
      They were racing for 12 and 10 points (possible 15 and 12 but I don't take that into account here)
      Expected points for blocking inside would be (12p*0.8+10p*0.2)*0.8+0p*0.2=9.28p
      But much better expected points for leaving a car width open would be (12p*0.6+10p*0.4)*0.99+0p*0.01=11.088p.

      This shows why even from driver perspective closing a side complete just before breaking is losing move even from drivers perspective. But to understand why teams really should not allow this and be very strict teaching drivers not to do it to each others is following numbers from teams perspective.

      Expected points when blocking completely: (12p+10p)*0.8+0p*0.2=17.6p
      While leaving the car width open would produce much improved (12p+10p)*0.99=21.78p

      Basically team is losing on average there over 4 points each time drivers end up to that aggressive defensive situation.

      • + 0
      • Apr 29 2018 - 20:11
    • Nice calculation! Appreciated.
      Still the blame on agressive defence(Max). How about Ricciardo’s perspective? In the position he was in, he would never get around the corner. If he had chosen to go outside, there would be 100% no accident. It’s all speculation ‘if’. It has happened and both are to blame. Your calculation blames the defender who had the right to keep his line.
      What happened to the fact that someone who collides in from behind is wrong? He surely knows he losses drag if you are so close behind an other car or isn’t that worth mentioning?

      • + 0
      • Apr 29 2018 - 21:13
    • Patent, you forget that Max first switched to the outside. If one driver ahead of you switches to the outside, and leaves little room there, what position will you try to overtake in?

      • + 0
      • Apr 29 2018 - 21:49
    • Lets end the discussion. I remind you of the fact that you only look on what Max does. Ricciardo seems no point of discussion. A bit one sided, don’t you think?.

      • + 0
      • Apr 29 2018 - 23:09
    • Of course. Not necessarily, especially considering Im no Ricciardo fan or Max hater.

      • + 0
      • Apr 30 2018 - 01:59
    • By the way, thanks for an interesting discussion everyone. I enjoyed the chat, regardless if we agree or not.

      • + 0
      • Apr 30 2018 - 02:50
  • How on earth can Red Bull continuously accept their drivers are battling with this as a result?

    • + 0
    • Apr 29 2018 - 16:52
    • Because, as much as I generally dont like their high honchos (spelling?), they want to let their drivers race. It was clear that Ricciardo was the faster driver this round, yet they refused to use team orders, for better or worse. I can respect that. But this was a dreadful result for them. To have managed that strategy so well, only to have it all crash and burn...

      • + 0
      • Apr 29 2018 - 16:57
  • mcbhargav

    Posts: 846

    From RB’s pov, 2018 is write off. Its all about keeping drivers, sponsors pitched with their motto of ‘ racing ‘

    • + 0
    • Apr 29 2018 - 21:58
  • RogerF1

    Posts: 342

    Late into the pitch, watched on catchup but still good (except a bit mediocre in the middle). My vote on Max at fault, double move but that’s racing. RB will sort it out behind closed dooors as usual as they should. Bigger problem as I mentioned last race is the carbon fibre. Don’t castigate marshalls tried to dodge cars at 100 kph+ every couple of minutes when cars have deposited BUCKET FULLS of black glass all over the track. The cockpits are carbon fibre and virtually indestructible - no debris there and we don’t want any. Such a splintering material has to be changed, Bottas the harsh recipient this time. At least LH was suitably humble. There will never be enough time to pick up the hundreds of shards and pieces coming off a big shunt. No doubt most of you are drivers, how big a piece of metal or other debris in the road does it take to puncture your tyre! Can be half the size of your finger nail. Are marshalls going to pick up all of them !! Maybe when someone on or off the track gets stabbed by a 200kph projectile thrown off a tyre will it be looked at. In the meantime good drives get screwed.

    • + 1
    • Apr 30 2018 - 00:10
  • ZUKMAN

    Posts: 35

    Have sombody got understaing how rebull drivers got swapped during last pit-stops?
    RIC was in front and after pit-stops he is not anymore.

    • + 0
    • Apr 30 2018 - 07:55
    • He had a pretty bad outlap.

      • + 0
      • Apr 30 2018 - 08:52
    • boudy

      Posts: 1,034

      Max was quicker than RIC.

      • + 0
      • Apr 30 2018 - 10:44

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