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Race Highlights: Azerbaijan 2018

Aditya Joshi
CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
567   //    01 May 2018, 22:16 IST

Azerbaijan F1 Grand Prix
Azerbaijan F1 Grand Prix

Both fans and experts were expecting a dramatic race at Baku, and the City of Winds didn't disappoint. The track, at 27 degrees Celsius, was slightly cooler than what we saw in the practices and qualifier. Wind speed varying from 9 to 31 km/h, promised really dramatic driving conditions during the race. The low track temperature meant that the drivers were struggling to find grip on the cold tyres throughout the race.

The starting carnage

The first lap saw the safety car on the track with Esteban Ocon running into Kimi Raikkonen on turn 2, Sirotkin retiring with a punctured tyre and Alonso nursing his car back to the pit with two punctured tyres. Hulkenberg, Gasly and Stroll gained places under the safety car while Raikkonen and Alonso lost places. With the cars weaving around behind, the safety car went around till lap 5.


Azerbaijan F1 Grand Prix - Qualifying
Azerbaijan F1 Grand Prix: Vettel in the lead

The beginning of lap 6 saw Vettel leading the pack back into the race. Ricciardo lost 2 places as Verstappen attacked from the inside and Sainz smartly sneaking in through the gap to take 5th place between the Red Bulls. Max Verstappen was heard complaining about his electrical power during lap 9. Both the Red Bulls lost a position each in a rather spectacular double overtake by the Renaults, followed by another overtake by Hulkenberg, taking advantage of Verstappen's battery issue. The happiness of the overtakes was quite short-lived for Hulkenberg as he retired after having lost the back end of his car in a corner and hit the wall. Raikkonen complained about an issue with the DRS, which was later confirmed by Race Control. Drivers were required to manually activate DRS in the first zone.

Red Bulls lock horns

There was another clash between the Red Bulls when Ricciardo made an attempt at passing Verstappen on the straight, which looked like it worked, but there was contact between the cars and Verstappen made it through the inside line at the following corner to end up in front. With Raikkonen passing Leclerc, the usual top six cars of this season were back in their place (Ferraris, Mercedes and Red Bulls). Hamilton pitted in lap 23 with Verstappen 22.5 seconds behind, which enabled him to rejoin the race losing just one place to Bottas.


Lap 27 saw another move by Ricciardo where he attacked Verstappen on the start/finish straight, tried shutting the door on him through the outside line on the first turn but eventually lost the position through the second turn. Vettel lost the lead to Bottas as he pitted after lap 30, still keeping the top six positions among the same teams. The Red Bulls exchanged places as Ricciardo passed Verstappen in lap 35, ending up in fourth place. This enabled Ricciardo to pit before his teammate in lap 38 and rejoin the race, right behind his teammate. Verstappen pitted in the very next lap and rejoined the race still in front of Ricciardo.


Where is Multi 21 when you need it?

The lap after Verstappen's pit stop saw a move by Ricciardo to retake his position, which ended up in a catastrophe for Red Bull. Ricciardo tried passing his teammate from the right using DRS on the straight. Verstappen seemed to move to the right as well, which made Ricciardo try and take him from the left side. Verstappen closed the gap again, only to cause his teammate to drive right into his car. The safety car was deployed with the retirement of both the Red Bulls. Ricciardo rear-ended Verstappen,

This came as an unexpected advantage for Bottas as he went into the pit when the safety car was deployed. Vettel and Hamilton both followed him into the pit for fresh tyres. Bottas left the pit still in the lead. Lapped cars were allowed to overtake, indicating the end of the safety car laps. However, Grosjean lost control of his car and ran into the barrier during lap 43, retiring from the race. This caused the safety car duration to be extended.


Azerbaijan F1 Grand Prix
Azerbaijan F1 Grand Prix Safety Lap

A dramatic finish

With just 4 laps remaining, the safety car left and the race resumed with Bottas in the lead. After a brilliant restart, Vettel passed bottas on the inside and looked like he had the corner, but locked up and ran wide, losing places to Hamilton and Raikkonen instead. With just 3 laps to go, Bottas drove over some debris on the track and blew his rear right tyre leading to a tragic retirement. Perez passed Vettel to take P3 and become the only driver to have taken 2 podium finishes at Azerbaijan. The race ended with Hamilton passing the chequered flag to get to the top of this season's drivers' standings and Raikkonen following to take a podium finish for Ferrari.


Azerbaijan F1 Grand Prix
Azerbaijan F1 Grand Prix Podium

Current Driver Standings

Position Name Team Points

1 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 70

2 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 66

3 Kimi Räikkönen        FERRARI 48

4 Valtteri Bottas        MERCEDES 40

5 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 37

6 Fernando Alonso MCLAREN RENAULT 28

7 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT 22

8 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 18

9 Sergio Perez        FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 15

10 Carlos Sainz        RENAULT 13

11 Pierre Gasly        SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 12

12 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI 11

13 Charles Leclerc     SAUBER FERRARI 8

14 Stoffel Vandoorne MCLAREN RENAULT 8

15 Lance Stroll        WILLIAMS MERCEDES 4

16 Marcus Ericsson SAUBER FERRARI 2

17 Esteban Ocon        FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1

18 Brendon Hartley SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 1

19 Romain Grosjean HAAS FERRARI 0

20 Sergey Sirotkin       WILLIAMS MERCEDES 0

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Aditya Joshi
CONTRIBUTOR
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