May 26, 2018

Azerbaijan Grand Prix: Hamilton capitalises after Bottas blow-out

30 April 2018, 03:27 | Kristopher Drake

Lewis Hamilton has said he simply can not believe that he won the Azerbaijan Grand Prix and added that Valtteri Bottas "deserved" to be on the top step.

After four races of the season Lewis Hamilton for the first time topped the individual competition, ahead of Sebastian Vettel by four points.

Vettel led for much of the race, but was stuck in second behind Hamilton's Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas when a crash between the two Red Bulls brought out the safety auto.

As the Red Bull duo of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo collided which brought out the safety vehicle, Bottas pitted from the lead for his first stop.

Carlos Sainz rounded out the top 10 as McLaren failed to get a vehicle through to Q3.

Red Bull Round 4 occurred on lap 35 and finally went the way of Ricciardo as he managed to pass his teammate around the outside at Turn 1.

Vettel gained an extra three seconds on Hamilton as a result and following the pair's respective pit stops, the German kept his lead over the defending world champion.

The two Red Bulls driven by Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo fought all race for fourth place.

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Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo believes he has a good racing auto on his hands for tomorrow's Azerbaijan Grand Prix, but Baku's track conditions could throw a spanner in the works. Vettel and Hamilton both pitted by lap 31 and chose to be on the soft tyres to finish the remaining 20 laps of the race. Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen were racing too close for comfort throughout the race and in the end the crash was nearly inevitable.

Mercedes and Hamilton had their first win but far from how they were expecting it.

Ocon turned in for the apex with Raikkonen nearly completely alongside, and the ensuing contact pitched the Force India into the wall and out of the race and forced Raikkonen to pit for a new front wing. With Verstappen pitting for fresh tires on lap 16, Team Red Bull was able to have both drivers climb back into top five of the running order. He dropped behind Hamilton and then Raikkonen at the next corner, before falling to fourth behind Force India's Sergio Perez on the following lap.

After a start in cool, windy conditions that made it hard to get enough grip, the safety auto was out nearly immediately on lap 1 as several cars collided in the middle of the pack.

A Safety Car was deployed to deal with the incident, giving Bottas the opportunity he was waiting for to pit.

He lost out in a similar situation in China and will have been expecting to sew up his first win of the season when the racing restarted with just four laps to go. Hamilton and Raikkonen did the same, setting up a sprint race to the finish between the top four drivers. It was his first win since last October.

At one stage he even called for the event to be abandoned as a truck precariously dealt with Romain Grosjean's stricken Haas after the Frenchman crashed out under the safety auto.

Charles Leclerc did some great work in his Sauber - and it was no wonder he had some choice bits of vocabulary as he celebrated his sixth place. Stroll scored the first points for Williams this season as he finished eighth.

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