Lewis Hamilton took an unexpected win for Mercedes as teammate Valtteri Bottas suffered a puncture with just three laps to go at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku. A safety car affected race, once more, playing a part in the outcome as Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel looked set to win after setting pole position.
Vettel took his third consecutive pole of 2018, ahead of Hamilton on the front row, Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo [Red Bull] third and fourth, while Max Verstappen [Red Bull] and Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari were on row three.
Good starts for Vettel, Hamilton and Bottas saw the three of them set off line-astern, while further down the pack Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastien Ocon came together, leaving the Force India driver stranded in the wall and forcing out the safety car early on. Fernando Alonso, meanwhile, suffered a double puncture and was forced to nurse his McLaren back to the pits.
At the restart Verstappen dived down the inside of teammate Ricciardo, while the Renault of Carlos Sainz jumped them both to run fourth early on. The Red Bull pair ran close together for much of the race, passing, and hitting, one-another on several occasions, a slick overtake from Ricciardo on lap 35 undone by pitstops, and ultimately leading to the pair clashing with each other on lap 40, leaving them both out of the race.
The resulting safety car benefitted Bottas greatly, as Mercedes and Ferrari pitted their drivers the Finn jumped Vettel as a result. At the restart Vettel tried a daring overtake on the Mercedes, but it wasn’t to be, the German running wide and allowing Bottas, and Hamilton, back through in first and second.
With just three laps to go there was heartache for Bottas, as the right-rear tyre of his Mercedes punctured after running over some debris on the track.
Hamilton crossed the line to win, with Kimi Raikkonen in second. Third place came miraculously the way of Sergio Perez in the Force India, the Mexican had found himself in the pits with damage after just one lap, but he found himself able to pass Vettel with two laps to go, hanging on to take third at the flag.
Hamilton said; “I ran back after the race to go and see Valtteri, I really felt he drove an exceptional race, and ultimately deserved to have won the race, but for whatever reason, whether it was debris or whatever, he was so unfortunate.
“It definitely felt awkward standing on top of the podium, I’m not one to gloat when you’ve inherited a position rather that truly earnt it, but I have to take it”.
- Lewis HamiltonGBR Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport 51 laps, 1hr 43m 44.291s
- Kimi RaikkonenFIN Scuderia Ferrari +2.460s
- Sergio PerezMEX Sahara Force India F1 Team +4.024s
- Sebastian VettelGER Scuderia Ferrari +5.329s
- Carlos Sainz Jr. ESPRenault Sport Formula One Team +7.515s
- Charles LeclercMON Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team +9.158s
- Fernando AlonsoESP McLaren F1 Team +10.931s
- Stoffel VandoorneBEL McLaren F1 Team +12.546s
- Lance StrollCAN Williams Martini Racing +14.152s
- Brendon HartleyNZL Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda +18.030s