Ricciardo wins grotesque race in Baku
Maiden Azerbaijan Grand Prix was one of the strangest Formula 1 races in the last couple of years and Daniel Ricciardo was lucky enough to score the first win of the season. The Australian profited from all the mess that had happened over more than two hours while the title contenders missed out the podium.
The start of the race was a bit chaotic. Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen collided at Turn 2 and the Mercedes driver had to pit due to a puncture and broken front wing what dropped him to the back of the grid. On the other side, the Ferrari driver just dropped to the 5th position, behind Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Sergio Perez, and Max Verstappen. One who also profited from the chaotic start was Felipe Massa who moved up to the 6th place.
On lap 12, Verstappen suffered the engine failure and retired from the race what was his second consecutive retirement and fourth in 2017. At the same time, Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso stopped on the track and the safety car was deployed, so all drivers pitted for tires change.
It looked like that Raikkonen was sleepy at the restart of the race. Kimi dropped to the 6th place after both Massa and Esteban Ocon overtook him. Unfortunately, the #7 Ferrari was pretty damaged and some debris came up from it. The cars have been told to go through the pit lane because marshals had to clear the main straight.
Drivers were too nervous and many of them made many strange decisions. Lewis Hamilton slowed down too much and Vettel hit him from behind before brake testing his closest rival. It was a childish behavior of the two champions who both deserved to be penalized.
After the restart, Massa took the 3rd place from Perez who was left without front wing after having a contact with his teammate Ocon. For the third time the safety car was deployed because of a lot of debris on the track. The Force India drivers dropped to the back of the grid, just as Raikkonen. Sadly, Raikkonen and Perez were forced to retire. Finally, the race was red-flagged on lap 22 and cars returned to the pitlane waiting for the track to be cleared.
After 20 minutes, the race was restarted and, interestingly, Raikkonen and Perez returned to the race after their cars have been repaired. However, Hamilton led the race, followed by Vettel, Massa, Lance Stroll and Daniel Ricciardo who made a fantastic move and jumped to the 3rd place. Sadly, Massa soon after retired due to rear damper failure. Nico Hulkenberg also missed an opportunity to score some points after hitting the wall.
It was a kind of disaster for Mercedes and Hamilton who had to pit and to fix headrest. Lewis dropped to the 9th position but at the same time Vettel received a 10-second stop & go penalty because of dangerous driving. So, the leader in this completely bizarre race became Daniel Ricciardo. Stroll was 2nd at that point while Kevin Magnussen was the 3rd! However, with 16 laps to go, it was enough time for more excitement.
With 10 laps remaining, Ricciardo had a comfortable lead to Stroll, while Bottas, Ocon, Vettel, and Hamilton were behind them. The Red Bull Racing driver calmly cruised to the first win of the season and 5th in his career, Bottas took the 2nd place very late in the race while Stroll completed the podium what is the best result in his short F1 career.
The next race on the Formula 1 calendar is the Austrian Grand Prix at Red Bull Ring, on 9th of July.