Daniel Ricciardo wins the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after a controversial incident between Championship rivals Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton marked the main highlight of the race.
The Australian benefited from the drama caused by Sebastian and Lewis to take his 5th Career win ahead of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and 18 year old rookie Lance Stroll in the Williams.
After a crash in Qualifying that saw him start in 10th place, Ricciardo risked by pitting early and benefited by the Safety cars and Red flag to move up the field towards victory.
Bottas snatched 2nd place from Stroll in the dying moments of the race, passing the Canadian on the main straight meters before the finish line. Bottas started 2nd in the race but dropped down to last following an opening lap collision with Kimi Raikkonen, forcing Valtteri to pit with a puncture and a broken front wing.
Lance Stroll performed an excellent drive to grab his first ever F1 podium in only his 8th race in the sport. After scoring his first ever points at his home race two weeks ago, Stroll stunned everyone with a superb drive to 2nd place before being beaten to the line by Bottas.
The race was filled with incidents with 2 Safety Cars and a Red Flag after multiple car break downs and debris causing lengthy delays to the race. The first safety car was called out to clear Daniil Kvyat’s stranded Toro Rosso after Turn 12.
The safety car was called out again a lap later after scraps of debris was left over the track. 2 laps later, the Safety car came in but more incidents were soon to follow.
The Force India’s of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon were battling for position heading into Turn 2 before Ocon hit the kerb pushing Perez to the wall. Ocon started to pull away but the pair collided when Perez’s front wing and Ocon’s right rear wheel made contact, forcing debris to spread.
Kimi got caught in the debris and received a puncture and damange to his rear wing. The Safety car came out again. Fernando Alonso called over the radio for the race to be red flag, shortly after the race was suspended.
After the red flag, the race got going again with Daniel Ricciardo making an amazing move pass Massa, Hulkenberg and Stroll down Turn 1 to move up to 3rd place.
Retirements from Massa and Hulkenberg allowed Stroll to follow Ricciardo towards the podiums position as the gap started to form from behind.
Hamilton lost the race lead due to a failure with his head rest, meaning a trip to the pits for the Brit losing valuable time to Vettel.
Sebastian later pitted to serve his 10 second stop/go penalty and manage to jump ahead of Hamilton with a few cars to spare as the German started to run away.
Hamilton, in an last minute desperation to pass his championship rival, called to Mercedes for help asking Bottas to slow down and hold up Sebastian in order for Hamilton to pass. Mercedes didn’t respond and Bottas didn’t slow has he chased down Stroll for 2nd place.
Whilst the result of the podium may have shown a fantastic race, it has been overshadowed by the incident between the two main protagonist in this year’s World Championship.
Sebastian Vettel hit the back of Hamilton during the Safety Car period, moments before the restart. The German was furious believing the Brit was brake testing. Vettel then proceeded to drive alongside Hamilton complaining about the incident before the German hits into the side of Lewis.
Vettel was later penalised with a 10 seconds stop/go penalty later in the race, moments after he took the lead of the race when Lewis pitted when his head rest became loose. Hamilton was not penalized for the incident.
After analysis from multiple footage and telemetry, the FIA found that Hamilton didn’t brake-test Sebastian during the exit of Turn 15. They found no evidence of the Brit braking at the exit of the corner which caused the 4 time world champion to hit into the Mercedes.
The FIA however, were persistent on Vettel with dangerous driving after he turned into Hamilton during the Safety Car period.
The Stewards explained after the race: “The Stewards examined video evidence which showed that car 5 drove alongside and then steered into car 44. The Stewards decide this manoeuvre was deemed potentially dangerous.”
Obviously both drivers gave very different views of the event immediately after the race.
Hamilton told Channel 4: I didn’t brake test him. Like in all the other restarts I slowed down in the same spot. He was obviously sleeping and jumped into the back of me. He got away scot free and finished 4th – I think it’s a disgrace!”
Sebastian Vettel responded in a calm matter to the press and told Channel 4: “I think it was clear that I didn’t run into him on purpose. I’m still respectful, I don’t have an issue with him. But I think if I get penalised he should be penalised”.
Vettel has said that he aims to speak with Lewis about the incident in private. Hamilton doesn’t comment about his relationship over Sebastian.
2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix Results
Drivers Standings (After Round 8)
Constructors Standings (After Round 8)