Lewis Hamilton takes championship lead after action packed Baku Grand Prix
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News April 29, 2018 Updated: 6:14 AM PT
BAKU, Azerbaijan — Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton scored his 63rd career victory on the streets of Baku after teammate Valtteri Bottas runs into bad luck. It was a wild, action-packed Baku Grand Prix.
A humbled but greatful Hamilton reflects on a reluctant win which has him leading the championship.
“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,” said Hamilton.
Kimi Raikkonen finished second after teammate Sebastian Vettel suffered a big lockup at Turn 1 after the final safety car ended in the remaining four laps of the race.
The massive lockup flat-spotted his tire and slowed him down allowing Sergio Perez to take third. Perez’ podium gives Force India their first podium of the season and Perez his eighth podium of his career. Perez’ teammate Esteban Ocon’s day ended early after making heavy contact with Kimi Raikkonen at Turn 3.
Vettel finished fourth after starting on pole and was set to makeup for the disappointing result in China, but Vettel’s lockup in the closing laps finds him down by four points in the driver’s championship.
One of the biggest moments of the race came when Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and teammate Daniel Ricciardo collided after they had been fighting for position throughout must of the race.
The collision came as the two drivers charged down the main straight as Ricciardo attempted to overtake Verstappen on the inside but was left with little room to correct as the two broke into Turn 1. The result left both drivers out of the race.
Carlos Sainz pulled an impressive result for Renault finishing fifth. F1 rookie Charles Leclerc scored a massive result for Sauber in sixth as well as the highest finish of his career. Sainz’s teammate Nico Hulkenberg Hulkenberg had a early retirement on lap 10 after running wide out of Turn 4 and hitting the wall.
Fernando Alonso took seventh for McLaren after suffering a puncture when he made contact with Williams' driver Sergey Sirotkin.
Lance Stroll found his way into the points thru the chaos, finished eighth, and scored Williams their first points of the season.
Stoffel Vandoorne made the second McLaren to make it in the points, finishing ninth, as the Woking based team continue to hold fourth in the constructor’s championship. Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley took the final points position on the grid in tenth.
Marcus Ericsson almost made it a double point scoring finish for Sauber finishing 11th. Pierre Gasly took 12th in the second Toro Rosso with Kevin Magnussen in 13th. Magnussen lost his teammate Romain Grosjean after he made a mistake during the final safety car period accidentally slamming his car into the wall as he was attempting to get heat in to his tires.
Valtteri Bottas took 14th after having a heartbreaking puncture when he accidentally ran over a piece of the debris on the track in the closing laps of the race.