Lewis Hamilton (Credit: Getty Images)

Lewis Hamilton Wins in Baku; Red Bull Implodes

Lewis Hamilton took advantage of a late safety car incident, plus a puncture by his teammate to win the Grand Prix of Azerbaijan Sunday evening. Kimi Raikkonen finished second, while Sergio Perez took third to appear on the podium for the first time in two years.

For Hamilton, the win might have been gift-wrapped, but the Briton now takes a four-point lead ahead of Sebastian Vettel after four rounds of the championship battle.

“Definitely quite an emotional race, to be honest,” Hamilton said afterward. “Valtteri (Bottas) did an exceptional job today and deserved the win.”

Hamilton took advantage of the race with only a few laps to go. Vettel had led most of the first half of the race until he pitted for fresh tires. Bottas was kept out longer than expected and led going into the 40th lap, when Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo accidentally ran into his teammate Max Verstappen, knocking both out of the race. During this yellow flag period, Romain Grosjean was warming up his tires and crashed into the barriers, keeping the safety car out until four laps to go when it became a sprint race.

Vettel shot out first but overestimated the turn and went off the track. Bottas kept himself in the lead, with Hamilton now second, but on the next lap, Bottas ran over some debris on the straightaway and flattened his right rear tire. Hamilton took the lead and remained in front, taking the victory by just under three seconds from Raikkonen.

Despite going off the track, Vettel recovered enough to finish fourth, while Carlos Sainz Jr. took fifth. Charles LeClerc had the best finish of his career in sixth, with McLaren receiving double points as Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne took seventh and ninth, respectively. Lance Stroll gave Williams its first points of the year in eighth, and Brendon Hartley also took his first points in 10th.

Hamilton normally is quite pleased after a win, but this time it was more luck than skill.

“It seems very odd to be up here,” he said. “But I have to take it. I did not give up and I kept pushing.”

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Mark is a motorsports journalist specializing in the field for the last 16 years in Formula 1 with experience in covering team launches, feature stories and race weekends during the season. In addition, Mark covers the World Endurance Championship, which includes the 24 Hours of Lemans. He also speaks French up to an intermediate level, with a basic understanding of German. Have worked for agencies as Racing Information Service News, Racing Nation, Fansided, the Munich Eye Newspaper in Munich, Germany, and Autoweek magazine. Mark is also a knowledgeable Formula 1 driver after graduating from both the F1 International and AGS racing academies.

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  1. Avatar

    An interesting race that had several cars that, at varying times looked destined to have the win. Vettel dominated but the safety car did him in. Then he outbraked himself on the restart. Bottas should have finished second. Anyway an interesting race, and some new faces up in the points, good for the sport.

  2. Avatar

    Who couldn’t see that there was going to be a collision between the two Red Bull teammates sometime in this race?
    Shades of the 1992 Indy 500 when pole sitter Roberto Guerrero crashed his race car warming up his tires before the start of the big race. Maybe the Frenchman, Romain, can blame it on the brakes.
    I thought this was not a good street circuit venue when seeing it last year. But it has produced some great, unexpected results for Formula One. I like it.

    • Avatar

      Couldn’t agree more about the track it has produced some interesting results each year.

      Question: Who do you think was most embarrassed to explain what happened. The two Red Bull drivers or Grosjean for crashing warming his tires? Bet there were some “frank and open discussions”.