Tuesday, 20 August, 2019

Lewis Hamilton WINS Azerbaijan Grand Prix - Red Bulls collide and more

Shannon Reynolds | 01 May, 2018, 11:35

The wind arrived in Azerbaijan on Sunday with gusts of 50mph, funelling between the buildings and adding to the tricky conditions. Charles Leclerc was a career-best sixth for Sauber.

That, though, was just the start of the drama.

Carlos Sainz was a surprise contender for the top places early on, as was Force India's Perez, now exclusively fighting for his team's points haul after Ocon's forced departure.

But that was nothing compared to Bottas' misery, the Finn forced to retire from the lead after running over a piece of debris the marshals had failed to spot. Hulkenberg meanwhile suffered a puncture on lap 11/51. "What a stupid guy, he closed the door", he said.

Hamilton should have won in Melbourne but a timing glitch by his Mercedes team saw him lose out to Vettel.

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel has laid down the title gauntlet to Lewis Hamilton after beating his rival to pole position in Azerbaijan. The latter fought back. Ricciardo also had battery issues.

In the surrounding chaos, Sergey Sirotkin was also contacted and he went down an escape road while Raikkonen limped back to the Ferrari pits. Vettel pulled away to open a three-second lead ahead of Hamilton and Bottas after 10 of the scheduled 51 laps of the tight and fast Baku street track. The third row was all Red Bull with Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.

Raikkonen moved into second place as a result.

As if there wasn't enough for the drivers to deal with, race control reported: "DRS detection at detection point 1 inactive - manual operation permitted".

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Bottas had looked likely to win until he was hit by a puncture after running over debris in the final laps and gifted victory to his team mate. "We have eight second margin to Hamilton, we stay out". Verstappen locked up on the inside line and pushed Ricciardo towards the wall on the exit of the corner as the pair touched tyres, removing the Pirelli stickering from the sidewalls of Verstappen's right hand tyres and from Ricciardo's left-hand tyres.

This time, Ricciardo feigned to the outside before committing to the inside, but as he did so Verstappen veered to cover the apex under braking.

"Yesterday I struggled with confidence and trust in the vehicle, which is important".

Hulkenberg then hit the wall on lap 11 while in fifth place, retiring, after he and Sainz had battled the Red Bulls. Ricciardo tried a move but only succeeded in pile-driving into Verstappen, bringing out the Safety Car.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff felt it was a bittersweet result, particularly after the incident between the two Red Bulls - which prompted a safety auto and pit stops throughout the pack - had worked in Bottas' favour, ensuring he remained ahead of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.

Hamilton eventually was told to finally box at Lap 22 and came out ahead of Verstappen taking P3 behind his team mate Bottas. Make that into the final six laps as Grosjean crashed behind the Safety Car. He was weaving to get temperature into the tyres and just dropped it.

The SC period was further extended as Grosjean's vehicle was on a part of the track where it was hard to retrieve.

Mr. Hamilton saw a dramatic victory and maximum points in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after a insane race around the streets of this historic city on the banks of the Caspian Sea on a cool Sunday evening. Too late as he went off the track.

That kept the safety auto out for even longer and when racing resumed Vettel passed Bottas but then ran wide as Hamilton and Raikkonen swept through.

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