2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix report

by Mark Hughes on 30th April 2018

Mark Hughes' in-depth analysis of the 2018 Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

The Red Bull drivers cost Sebastian Vettel victory and seemed to have handed it to Valtteri Bottas. But that’s not what fate had in store and Lewis Hamilton’s Melbourne ill luck was certainly paid back to him here. A piece of late race debris punctured the tyre of his race-leading team-mate, giving Hamilton back what his earlier lock-up error had cost. But that contest would really only have been for second place had it not been for a safety car that allowed Bottas to pit virtually for free and cost Vettel’s Ferrari what would have been a textbook victory.

That safety car was to clear up Red Bull debris as Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo recreated the team’s Istanbul Vettel/Webber 2010 nightmare. It was an incident that had been building for most of the race, as Verstappen got hugely defensive against Ricciardo’s bold attack. Something had to give and eventually it was Verstappen making a second move in the braking area – as he’s done so often before – giving Ricciardo nowhere to go. Although whether Ricciardo would have made the move work even without the block is debatable. But this is Ricciardo and this is Verstappen. As Toto Wolff – a man who’s been in this situation before – observed: “You cannot have guard dogs in the car and expect them to behave like puppies.”

But actually, when you trace it back forensically, this race was turned the way it was by the slow warm-up of Ricciardo’s ultrasofts on his pitstop out-lap. This, in turn, was a combination of the cool conditions and the low downforce wing Red Bull was obliged to use because of its engine power deficit to Mercedes and Ferrari. Without that little detail, it would all have played out with another clinical Vettel victory in a Ferrari that is just the all-round best car at the moment.

Qualifying

At what is always a tricky track for tyres, Pirelli opted to go particularly adventurous pre-season, with the use of the ultrasoft, which despite the name is a full two steps softer in compound than anything used here in 2016 or ’17. The teams – Ferrari and Mercedes in particular – committed heavily to it in their choice of how the ultras, supers and softs were distributed. Mercedes had just two sets of the supersoft for Hamilton, Ferrari the same for Vettel – and only one for Räikkönen.

But the way it turned out once they got out there on Friday was that the super was much the best tyre and the ultra offered only the smallest of single lap gain (maybe 0.2-0.25sec) in exchange for vastly heavier degradation. This rather caught them on the hop, as it was obvious that the top three teams could easily afford to surrender those couple of tenths in Q2 so as to be on the better tyre for the start of the race (and thereby increase the feasibility of one-stopping on Sunday, using a super/soft combination).

But you had to have enough of them. Hamilton had used one of his two sets of supers in Friday practice, Räikkönen couldn’t use his at all – until Q2. Red Bull was in slightly better shape in this regard, having chosen three sets of supers each for Ricciardo and Verstappen. This tyre situation went a long way to defining the shape of qualifying.

It bit Räikkönen in particular. Trying the supersoft for the first time as he set off on his Q2 lap, he locked up into Turn 3 and then again, more seriously, into Turn15. They were now seriously flat-spotted – and he was thereby forced to qualify in Q2 with the ultrasoft, where he duly went fastest, over the supers-shod remaining Ferrari, Mercs and Red Bulls. He was now the only one from the top three teams obliged to start on the less durable tyre – but at least he could minimise the damage of that by getting on the front row. Or even sneaking pole from team-mate Vettel – because the Ferrari was the thing to have around Baku on Saturday.

The Red Bull seemed to have a slight edge in raw pace – or rather, Ricciardo’s did – but doesn’t have a qualifying mode for its engine. The Mercedes W09 was again proving difficult in getting its tyres into the right temperature window. “We changed just about everything overnight,” said Hamilton after qualifying. “Wings, ride heights… it was a lot better, but...” The Mercedes motor retained its deployment advantage along the 2km long ‘straight’ and so was able to claw back some of the lap time it was surrendering to the Ferrari and Red Bull in its agility.

Baku is one of only two tracks on the calendar long enough to prevent full deployment being available on demand, so obliging you to work out the most effective spread of the extra electrical energy. The Merc is still ultimately able to deploy longer than the Ferrari – but this is the only time all season when that’s exposed. As well as helping Merc compensate for its chassis difficulties, it also contributed to the significant improvement in competitiveness of Force India (easily ‘best of the rest’ this weekend) and Williams (faster than McLaren and only just missing out on Q3).

So that’s how it was all poised into Q3 as the Baku winds gusted and turned. The top three teams went out in separate in-team pairings, Ferrari and Red Bull trying to co-ordinate a tow for the following driver down that super-long straight. If you could time it right, it was worth around 0.35sec. The run plan at Ferrari was that Räikkönen would have the tow on the first run, Vettel on the second (when theoretically the track would be at its fastest). At Red Bull Ricciardo would be the towed first time, with Verstappen in position for it at the final attempt. It’s a tricky thing to get right – close enough to get the tow, not so close earlier in the lap that your aero is compromised – and none of it worked out. Räikkönen ran wide early in his first lap and so wasn’t close enough to benefit, Vettel made a similar mistake on his second run and didn’t complete the lap. Ricciardo brushed a wall when following Verstappen early in the lap, losing him the required ground, and Max had a scruffy final attempt.

The pole came from Vettel’s first run, a peach of a lap in a Ferrari that he’d again had to finesse through the weekend. It’s a very different beast from last year’s shorter car and he’s still learning how to get it in its sweet spot – but he is finding that spot unerringly. “Yeah, I didn’t have the confidence on Friday,” he related, “and you really need that around this place. You have to trust the car otherwise you don’t dare go as quick as you might be able to. But today the car was just on fire and my confidence came up. It just kept getting better and better. There was a tiny bit in the middle sector – Turn 6, Turn 11 – where I was a bit greedy and went a bit wider than I should, but the rest of the lap was really good. The last corner [Turn 16 at the start if the straight] was incredibly difficult today with the winds and I had a good exit from there and got a bit of a tow from the car ahead [Hamilton].”

His next attempt wasn’t as good. “I just got a bit too excited at how good the car was and at Turn 3 tried to brake just a little too late, hit the bump, locked the front and flat-spotted it.” He abandoned the lap and hoped no one would improve on his first run. But it looked as if someone was going to: his team-mate. On his first run Räikkönen had got wide over the kerb on that tricky final corner, but this time was 0.2sec up on Vettel as he came up to the braking zone for that same corner. He approached it less aggressively, kept it on line – and then nailed the throttle the moment he felt the car straightening. Too early. The wheels spooled up, the extra electrical energy kicked in, the wheels spun even more and he was rescuing a wild tank slapper, the lap ruined. Had it been a gust of wind, he was asked. “No, it was a fu*k up,” he replied. “Very hard to take. I have to look in the mirror for this one.” His first lap stood as his grid time, good only for sixth.

Hamilton seemed more relieved he’d got the Mercedes into some sort of competitive shape than disappointed to be a couple of tenths off pole. “We knew [Ferrari] would be very quick here. We’ve been struggling. The car was much more reasonable today. It’s a work in progress.”

Bottas was only a tenth or so adrift in third place: “I didn’t get the perfect lap, but even if it had been Ferrari were too quick for us.” 

Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull had looked much the quickest car in the practices but they knew when it became about engine modes, they’d drop away – and so it proved. In addition, Daniel only just scraped into Q3 after a lock-up on one Q2 run and catching yellow flags on another. Once in there, he played it safe and possibly picked up a tow from Räikkönen – this jumping him ahead of Verstappen for fourth. Max had hit the wall on Friday but had recovered well enough. Both Red Bulls were running a very trimmed-out wing (very similar to that used last year), helping them to strong end-of-straight speeds. The Ferrari and Mercedes, by contrast, was running its spoon-profiled rear wings, with the flap trimmed away at the outboard ends to reduce drag but still quite full in the middle, a luxury allowed them by their greater power. The Ferrari, in addition, was running a greater flap angle and had a revised front wing endplate.

Mercedes deployment was helping Force India to be 0.5sec faster than Renault and only 0.5sec slower than Red Bull. Esteban Ocon was very much at ease with things and consistently quick and precise. Sergio Pérez got caught up in a few more lock-ups but eventually got to within a few hundredths of his team-mate, the pink cars seventh and eighth. At Renault, Hülkenberg again had a significant edge over Sainz but was taking a five-place penalty for a replacement gearbox.

Lance Stroll’s Williams only just failed to make Q3 and was backed up by Sergey Sirotkin right behind him. Both drivers were finding the car as difficult as ever but the Mercedes power unit was bringing extra value here. Sirotkin had plucked off the right-front on Saturday morning but it was fixed in plenty of time.

The McLaren’s high drag was particularly punished here, leaving Fernando Alonso only 13th and Stoffel Vandoorne unable to graduate from Q1 in 16th. Charles Leclerc did a nice job in getting the Sauber through to Q2 and went faster there than Kevin Magnussen’s Haas. At Toro Rosso, a nightmare accident was averted only thanks to Pierre Gasly’s reactions as he encountered team-mate Brendon Hartley at Turn 14 limping along on a punctured tyre after glancing the wall. The closing speed was in the order of 150mph – and Hartley started to move the wrong way. It was a truly terrifying moment. Gasly had to take to the escape road, and his first run wasn’t fast enough to get out of Q1 and only just ahead of Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber.

Hartley didn’t set a representative time and Romain Grosjean didn’t set a time at all after the Haas suffered a hydraulics loss and transmission failure on its out-lap.

Race

Lap 38, 13 to go. In-car Ricciardo. OK, he hadn’t been able to fight for the victory, like it had looked was possible in the warmer conditions seen on Friday and Saturday. The Red Bull was obliged to carry too little downforce to have got the supersofts they’d started the race on quickly enough up to temperature. The Merc and, especially, the Ferrari, with their significantly bigger rear wings, had got past that thermal threshold much sooner and had been consequently quicker in the race’s early stages. Then there were those damn ultra-shod Renaults, inconveniently fast in those opening laps and delaying the Red Bulls further by engaging them in temporary battle while the Ferraris and Mercs disappeared up the road. But, with that all now played out, it had been good to finally put that pass on Verstappen. He’s so savagely hard in defence, damn him, so tenacious in refusing to surrender to the inevitable, that they’d rubbed sidewalls a couple of times. All the more satisfying to have nailed that move – so now he had pitstop priority. They’d stayed out long, hoping for a safety car, long enough that they’d be able to get onto those fast-warming ultrasofts for the last stint. Then if the safety car came, wiping out their 40-odd second gap to the leaders, all bets were off. He’d be right there with the Ferrari and two Mercs, waiting to use his new tyres to pounce – just like in China. 

In he came at the end of the lap, flat out through those kinks running parallel to the Caspian, feeling the helmet buffeting from the super-strong cross-winds. Into the pit entry lane at close to 200mph, braking hard for the chicane there, car stationary for just 2.2sec as the boys did their jobs, new purple-striped tyres ready to do their stuff.

As Ricciardo set off on his out-lap, Verstappen had just received a beautiful tow down that 2km straight as he came to lap Pierre Gasly’s Toro Rosso to begin his in-lap. The tow-in combination with DRS is worth 0.45sec of lap time over a car that has neither (like Ricciardo’s). Furthermore, those supersofts he’d had on since the start were still in pretty good shape. Engineers up and down the paddock were saying that actually the quickest way to run the race – if you were allowed – would be to run non-stop on the supers. They had that level of durability in them. But surely they would not be quicker than a fresh set of ultras. Would they?

Actually, with the track temperature now down in the low-20deg Cs on a Red Bull with low downforce settings, Ricciardo was finding the new tyres weren’t properly under him, not yet. They were on the point of locking the fronts in the many tricky braking sectors, the rears not getting the power down so well on the exits.

Verstappen’s car was stopped for one tenth of a second longer than the other Red Bull had been, but his in-lap – partly thanks to that Gasly tow – had been 1.2sec faster. That, in combination with Ricciardo’s out-lap grip struggles, saw Verstappen ‘overcut’ his way ahead. Only as Ricciardo came through Turn 1, seeing Verstappen come out a few car lengths ahead of him, did he feel the grip coming in as the ultras finally switched on. “OK mate,” crackled his engineer on the radio. “We’re just going to have to pass him again. Go get him.” Not that he needed telling, but it was nice hearing Simon Rennie on his side. He knew that Max was going to be suffering the exact same grip problems on the out-lap as he’d had, knew he probably wouldn’t get a better chance than on this lap, when he’d temporarily have a grip advantage over him. It would be all about placement onto that long straight. Don’t catch him too early, judge it just so – then wait until he chooses a side approaching that first turn. Here’s that lovely slipstream + DRS tow, hauling him in so fast, that skinny rear wing suddenly becoming big in the frame. Stay over to the outside as Max is in the middle, wait until he begins to move that way – then swoop over to the inside. Always a good one. Yep, there Max goes, easing right… swoop left, count to one, brake…

Valtteri Bottas had no need to be concerned about what might be happening with the Red Bulls 40sec behind him, with just 12 laps to go. He was leading, but only because he’d yet to stop. He was a net 10sec or so behind Vettel. His focus was upon getting that crucial pitstop’s worth of gap over his already-pitted team-mate Hamilton, who’d come in early after flat-spotting his tyres chasing Vettel.

At the end of lap 39 Bottas had 20.1sec on him. His old supers were also working fine, still slightly quicker than Hamilton’s eight-lap old softs. But Hamilton was making him work for it, pushing like crazy. “Sometimes I was 1.5sec safe, then next lap 1sec unsafe again,” related Hamilton of the one-step-removed chase through the backmarkers in the fading light and the narrow strip of grip between the marbles and wind-strewn debris. Bottas probably needed another couple of laps to be sure of exiting ahead of Hamilton, in second. At the end of lap 39 he was 20.1sec clear. Earlier routine stops by others had cost between 19.7sec (Brendon Hartley) and 21.5sec (Carlos Sainz)…

But only something untoward was going to stop Vettel, who’d stamped his authority on this whole weekend very convincingly. The Ferrari was working beautifully. It could turn on its tyres on a day when that was tricky, it could look after them well, partly thanks to a higher downforce rear wing than Mercedes – and much higher than Red Bull. He’d won the short drag race to the start, turned in without undue hassle from Hamilton and Bottas. Behind the Mercs ran the Red Bulls, Ricciardo ahead. Behind Verstappen was Räikkönen, with Ocon’s Force India challenging on the outside up to Turn 3 and marginally ahead of the Ferrari. Neither gave way and there wasn’t room for both. Ocon was out on the spot as they hit, Räikkönen was limping to the pits for a new front wing – and the safety car was sent out so workers could clear the blizzard of carbon fibre that had landed on the track. There’d also been some bother further back in Turn 2, Sirotkin getting pincered between Hülkenberg and Alonso, collecting both the McLaren’s right-handed tyres and puncturing them, the Williams riding briefly in the air and breaking its suspension and wing as it landed, then nudging Pérez into the back of the limping Räikkönen, breaking Sergio’s front wing. Sergey parked his broken machine next to Ocon’s car.

All this put Sainz sixth from Stroll, Pérez (who’d be in for a new wing next lap, but who’d be awarded a 5sec penalty for having passed the Williams just before the safety car line), Hülkenberg, Gasly (on ultras and soon to fade), Leclerc, Vandoorne and Grosjean. Hartley and Magnussen had touched and pitted with damage. Alonso’s two-tyred arrival into the pits was dramatic, it being all he could do to steer it away from the pitwall. The floor was heavily damaged but after they changed his tyres and wing he got underway again. Ericsson pitted at this time so as to get his compulsory tyre change for free, given that he was at the back anyway. Grosjean pitted for similar reasons. The high damage count meant Räikkönen dropped down only to 13th as he rejoined, now on the most durable soft tyre, intending to run to the end. Behind him were Hartley, Grosjean, Pérez, Magnussen, Alonso and Ericsson.

The safety car was in at the end of the fifth lap, Vettel played cat and mouse with Hamilton on the restart before sprinting away, leaving Hamilton to fend off a run from his team-mate down to Turn 1. The Red Bulls were straight at it too, Verstappen getting down Ricciardo’s inside into Turn 2, forcing Daniel to back off to avoid contact, the loss of momentum losing him a further place to the Renault of Sainz, with Hülkenberg also swarming all over him. The ultras-shod Renaults had way more grip at this stage than the Red Bulls with their slow-to-warm supers. With their skinny wings, the RB14s were just not generating the grip to get heat into the tyre. Sainz was almost immediately onto Verstappen and their side-by-side no-holds-barred action reprised some of their Toro Rosso battles.

Vettel’s Ferrari had switched on its supers pretty much instantly, something that the Mercs accomplished only after a further three laps. This gave Vettel a 2.5-3sec cushion, enough to keep him out of undercut range. The lead trio quickly pulled out distance on the Red Bull/Renault battles behind.

Extensive use of the electrical power in defensive mode against the Renaults had steadily depleted the Red Bull energy stores – and Sainz DRS’d his way by Verstappen going into the eighth lap, with Hülkenberg nailing Ricciardo at the next corner, proceeding to then follow Sainz past Verstappen.

This was seriously galling – and delaying – for the Red Bull pair, for the ultra-shod Renaults would soon enough be losing their initial grip advantage. They were already over 15sec adrift of Vettel. As the Red Bulls recharged their batteries, even Stroll and his dicing rival Leclerc briefly loomed as possible threats.

This was a remarkable performance from the Sauber rookie, who would soon make his pass on Stroll stick. He was lapping just 0.5sec slower than the leader and over 2sec faster than his team-mate at this stage, and looking totally composed while doing so, not even the closely shadowing Räikkönen fazing him.

Hülkenberg was chasing after his team-mate when he lost it into Turn 4 and hit the wall with his left-rear on lap 10. The Renault was the race’s third retirement, but wouldn’t be its last. By the time Sainz pitted out of Red Bull’s way to replace his worn ultras on lap 16, Verstappen and Ricciardo were half-a-minute adrift of the leaders.

The supersofts were hanging on well and this was opening out the possibility at Ferrari of going long enough to be able to get onto the faster ultras for the final stint – if they could get to, say, 40 laps on these tyres, they’d be covering the possibility of a safety car for longer, and they’d be on a faster tyre combination. The track temperatures were now falling below the ideal operating range of the softs, so it was tempting to try to avoid them. That meant getting the supers to last for long enough to not give the ultras too long a final stint – but at the same time keeping Hamilton out of undercut range on a track where Vettel’s 3.5sec advantage could be quickly eaten up if the Mercedes got into the powerful tow. So push hard, but not too hard – and see if that was enough.

Sensing what the game was, Mercedes let Hamilton off the leash to press harder and he began eating into that margin. But it wasn’t the easiest of tasks, as the Merc’s tyres became steadily more difficult to keep in the temperature window as their tread wore down and the track cooled. This tricky combination led to Hamilton locking up into Turn 1 on lap 22, badly flat-spotting his fronts. He was forced to pit for replacements at the end of the lap, but there was way too far to go to be able to fit ultras. So on went a set of softs (despite the name, the hardest tyre here) and he rejoined half a minute off the lead, 18sec down on Bottas and on the slowest tyre. “At that point I was sure I’d taken myself out of contention,” admitted Hamilton of his error.

Bottas was error-free on his old supers and was slowly putting himself on schedule to eke out a pitstop’s worth of gap over his team-mate. But he was around 10sec adrift of Vettel. Ferrari began to discuss its options with Vettel now that Hamilton was no longer an immediate threat – should he: a) pit soon, get onto the softs and ensure track position, or b) go longer on steadily reducing pace in order to get on the ultras. “I said let’s not wait until I come out with Lewis only 2-3sec behind – because then he might get into the tow,” explained Vettel of their decision to pit on lap 30 for a set of softs.

This surprised Mercedes, it struck them as an over-cautious move. It allowed them to just keep Bottas out there, with nothing to lose and possibly everything to gain if there was a safety car. Even if there wasn’t, they could keep him out there until around lap 35, fit him with ultras, see him come out around 6sec behind Vettel but on tyres that would be maybe 1.5sec per lap faster. Even without a safety car, Ferrari’s cautious call seemed to have opened the slight possibility of a Bottas victory.

Merc’s thinking was that a safety car seemed a real possibility, given the ferocity of the in-team Red Bull fight. Time after time Ricciardo, having the benefit of DRS, would go around Verstappen’s outside into Turn 1, only for Max to hang on, so as to be on the inside for the run up to Turn 2.

Twice they exchanged rubber at those points, no quarter asked or given, their wheel-to-wheel judgement incredibly finely-honed. This was perhaps F1’s most audacious attacker trying to pass its fiercest defender, albeit within the same team. Some way behind them was Räikkönen, still on his old softs, having finally found his way past the early-stopping Sainz, Stroll and the Sauber of the remarkable Leclerc. Stroll was now being shadowed by Pérez (who’d conjured a typically strong combination of tyre life and pace since that early pitstop) and Grosjean (who’d pulled away from team-mate Magnussen and maintained a good pace but, like Pérez, would need to stop again). Alonso was hanging gamely on with his damaged McLaren.

Then the race changed – and here we rejoin Ricciardo.

Stay over to the outside as Max is in the middle, wait until he begins to move that way – then swoop over to the inside. Always a good one. Yep, there Max goes, easing right… swoop left, count to one, brake...

Ricciardo committed to the gap. It was late, very late. But that’s how he makes his moves. So when Verstappen then switched back to the left, Ricciardo had no options. Already on the point of locking-up, he was too close to swerve either side and inevitably he hit the sister car hard up the rear, briefly lifting its rear wheels into the air. They careened dramatically onto the run-off, spitting sparks and carbon shards in a choreography that was remarkably similar to Vettel/Webber that time at Istanbul. “70 per cent Verstappen’s fault, 30 per cent Ricciardo’s,” said Niki Lauda. “Ricciardo was aggressive, but when the other guy chops across him like that, it leaves him nowhere to go.”

Adrian Newey removed his headset and climbed down from the Red Bull pit wall. A grey-with-rage Christian Horner made his way to the debrief room to await his drivers. In the background the V8 rumble of the accelerating safety car.

Bottas and Vettel were called in from first and second respectively. Ferrari had recognised that the safety car had already effectively lost Vettel the lead – so it may as well put him on new tyres, ready to contest the restart with Bottas.

“How did he get in front?” radioed Vettel in a comment that echoed Hamilton’s similar call in Melbourne when Vettel had been the beneficiary. Two consecutive races, Vettel had been denied by the safety car timing. But Ferrari had this time put him in a position that made him vulnerable to just such an occurrence – perhaps unnecessarily. Also pitting for free at this time and getting onto fresh ultras were Hamilton and Räikkönen.

Fantastic news for Bottas, only slightly less so for Pérez and Grosjean who’d gained places by running long then got their stops almost free. It put them fifth and sixth respectively, ahead of Sainz, Leclerc, Stroll, Alonso, Magnussen, Gasly and Hartley.

Vandoorne had used the safety car to put on a fresh set of ultras with which he would make a late-race assault on the points. The pack was just about to be set free on lap 42 when Grosjean – weaving hard, trying to get heat into his tyres – unknowingly knocked a switch that changed his brake bias heavily to the rear. As he slid and stood on the brakes, so it just slid him with even more certainty into the wall. A race that might’ve seen him challenging Pérez for a spectacular result instead saw him given a lift back to the pits in the medical car.

A truck was sent out to retrieve the Haas. It took a long time to get it loaded – and its rear end made an ugly sight as cars on worn, cold tyres that might have repeated the Grosjean incident weaved by alongside. Hamilton radioed that a red flag should have been shown and it was difficult to disagree.

The cars were finally let loose at the end of lap 47, giving four racing laps. Bottas judged the restart perfectly, leaving Vettel, Hamilton and Räikkönen behind. But as that trio were towed along the straight, so they were all in a group into the braking zone for Turn 1. Vettel tried to retake what the safety car had taken from him by standing late on the brakes on the inside of Bottas. But the fronts locked up badly, he sailed straight on and before he could blend back in, Bottas, Hamilton and Räikkönen had streaked by. Vettel’s tyres were badly flat-spotted and Bottas looked on his way to a cannily-judged victory.

No one was quite sure where the debris that Bottas ran over less than a lap later had come from. It was near the start of the main straight and it flicked beneath the car and into the right-rear tyre, puncturing it. With just three laps to go he’d been cruelly robbed – and the pack zapped by, Hamilton at the head of it.

A lap later, Vettel was slow onto the straight with his flat-spotted tyres and Pérez was able to slipstream by him for a terrific third place. His pace as he then gave his all trying to catch Räikkönen was very impressive. “I think they were the best two laps of my racing life,” he said afterwards with the adrenaline thrill of the chase still coursing through his veins. Behind Vettel was a madly hectic brawl in the last few laps with Formula Ford-style place changes. Sainz took fifth ahead of Leclerc, Alonso, Stroll, Vandoorne and Hartley.

The podium ceremony was delayed as Hamilton graciously waited for Bottas’ return. “It was a humbling experience,” said Lewis. “Valtteri deserved to win. But I’ll take it. You have to take the ups with the downs. I think Ferrari still have the upper hand. Our qualifying pace is not on par with theirs. We are still in the mix though, and in the end, it’s going to be about days like today.”

 

Azerbaijan Formula 1 Grand Prix Results

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Lap 51
2 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari +2.460sec
3 Sergio Pérez Force India +4.024sec
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +5.329sec
5 Carlos Sainz Jr Renault +7.515sec
6 Charles Leclerc Sauber +9.158sec
7 Fernando Alonso McLaren +10.931sec
8 Lance Stroll Williams +12.546sec
9 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren +14.152sec
10 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso +18.030sec
11 Marcus Ericsson Sauber +18.512sec
12 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso +24.720sec
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas +30.663sec
14 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes DNF
15 Romain Grosjean Haas DNF
16 Max Verstappen Red Bull DNF
17 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull DNF
18 Nico Hülkenberg Renault DNF
19 Esteban Ocon Force India DNF
20 Sergey Sirotkin Williams DNF

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