The Azerbaijan Gran Prix turned out to be another interesting one despite the rather unusual start which saw Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel take the lead ahead of Merc’s Valtteri Bottas. As with other recent races, the two Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo hung on in competitive positions behind the Red and Silver pairs out front.
The pile-up at the start saw Force India’s Ocon and William’s Sirotkin retiring, the former hitting the wall after banging into Raikkonen, while Sirotkin tangled with the other Force India. The two Renaults of Sainz and Hulkenberg steadily picked off the Red Bulls, until Hulkenberg crashed his car from a P5 position.
With the race looking like it would end in this procession, the two Red Bulls came in for a tyre change to the Ultra soft compound, with Ricciardo managing to lose his hard fought advantage over team mate Verstappen. This lead to a battle for position on the home straight with Verstappen fending off Ricciardo by weaving and trying to outbrake him on the corner. Ricciardo ran into the rear of the lead red Bull, effectively taking both cars out of the race and leading to the deployment of the safety car that all the other teams were looking out for – quick drops into the pitlane saw the leaders quickly take on fresh tyres and come out, although in the process Valtteri Bottas managed to pip Vettel for the lead position.
As if to add a sense of ludicrousness to the proceedings, Haas driver Romain Grosjean took his car into the side wall, while following the safety car in sixth. “I was warming up my tyres and bumped into a switch that I’d moved by two positions. When I touched the brakes, the brake balance was locked rearward – it just locked the rear wheels and I spun.”
This added debris on the track and brought out the recovery truck, which took the safety car line-up into the closing stages of the race.
Once the green signal came out with only four laps to go, Vettel tried a bold dive the inside, but his subsequent lock up saw both Hamilton and Raikkonen shoot ahead of him. It looked like the race would end with Bottas and Hamilton taking a double, but as luck would have it Bottas ran over some of the debris on the track causing his right rear tyre to blowout. And Force India’s Perez managed to overtake Vettel’s Ferrari, bringing the podium position and making Perez the most successful Mexican driver ever. The race ended with Hamilton, Raikkonen and Perez on the top three, followed by Vettel, Sainz and first time points winner Charles Leclerc in his Sauber.
Post-race Hamilton said, “I have very mixed emotions today. Valtteri deserved to win, he did an exceptional job and had a faultless drive. This is such a crazy and exciting race and I never gave up. I was constantly pushing but it was a real struggle. I feel incredibly grateful to come out with the win. You have to take the ups with the downs and I can’t complain that I won; I will take it and hopefully learn from today. But Valtteri was very, very unfortunate, a one-two would have been a great result for the team. I would not have got by him in the remaining laps if he hadn’t had his tyre blow. It looks like Ferrari still has the better car, they outperformed us most of the weekend. We were able to just hold on to them during the race. We definitely have some work to do, but we are in the mix and it’s going to be very close. We have to keep our heads down and keep working.”
2018 Formula 1 Drivers
|Car No||Name||Team||2018 season||2017 season|
|33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing||216||168|
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing||146||200|
|11||Sergio Perez||Force India||57||100|
|31||Esteban Ocon||Force India||49||87|
|10||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso||29||0|
|28||Brendan Hartley||Toro Rosso||4||0|
2018 Formula 1 Teams
|Team||2018 season||2017 season|
|Red Bull Racing||362||368|
|Force India Mercedes||47||187|
|Toro Rosso Honda||33||53|
2018 Formula 1 Races
|Mexico||28/10/2018||Max Verstappen||Sebastian Vettel||Kimi Raikkonen|
|United States||21/10/2018||Kimi Raikkonen||Max Verstappen||Lewis Hamilton|
|Japan||07/10/2018||Lewis Hamilton||Valtteri Bottas||Max Verstappen|
|Russia||20/09/2018||Lewis Hamilton||Valtteri Bottas||Sebastian Vettel|
|Singapore||16/09/2018||Lewis Hamilton||Max Verstappen||Sebastian Vettel|
|Italy||02/09/2018||Lewis Hamilton||Kimi Raikkonen||Valtteri Bottas|
|Belgium||26/08/2018||Sebastian Vettel||Lewis Hamilton||Max Verstappen|
|Hungary||29/07/2018||Lewis Hamilton||Sebastian Vettel||Kimi Raikkonen|
|Germany||22/07/2018||Lewis Hamilton||Valtteri Bottas||Kimi Raikkonen|
|Britain||08/07/2018||Sebastian Vettel||Lewis Hamilton||Kimi Raikkonen|
|Austria||01/07/2018||Max Verstappen||Kimi Raikkonen||Sebastian Vettel|
|France||24/06/2018||Lewis Hamilton||Max Verstappen||Kimi Raikkonen|
|Canada||10/06/2018||Sebastian Vettel||Valtteri Bottas||Max Verstappen|
|Monaco||27/05/2018||Daniel Ricciardo||Sebastian Vettel||Lewis Hamilton|
|Spain||13/05/2018||Lewis Hamilton||Valtteri Bottas||Max Verstappen|
|Azerbaijan||29/04/2018||Lewis Hamilton||Kimi Raikkonen||Sergio Perez|
|China||15/04/2018||Daniel Ricciardo||Valtteri Bottas||Kimi Raikkonen|
|Bahrain||04/04/2018||Sebastian Vettel||Valtteri Bottas||Lewis Hamilton|
|Australia||25/03/2018||Sebastian Vettel||Lewis Hamilton||Kimi Raikkonen|