BAKU (AFP, REUTERS) - Lewis Hamilton got off the mark for 2018 and took the championship lead from Sebastian Vettel when the Mercedes driver emerged a fortuitous winner of an incident-laden Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday (April 29).
In a crash-littered, chaotic and entirely unpredictable race, the Briton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas was destined to take the chequered flag only for the Finn's rear right tyre to puncture with only a handful of laps on the streets of Baku remaining.
Hamilton won from Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari, with Sergio Perez's Force India third. Raikkonen's team-mate Vettel, who started from pole, took fourth place.
Hamilton now has 70 points to Vettel's 66. Both are seeking their fifth world title.
"It was quite an emotional race. Valtteri did an exceptional job and deserved to win, Sebastian also did a great job so it feels a bit odd to be up here," commented Hamilton on the podium. "Definitely an untidy race for me."
Red Bull's Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo, last year's winner in Baku and also in China two weekends ago, smashed into the back of team-mate Max Verstappen in a lap 40 collision that ended the race for both of them.
Carlos Sainz finished fifth for Renault and Charles Leclerc sixth for Sauber, his first points finish.
Former world champion Fernando Alonso was seventh for McLaren ahead of Canadian Lance Stroll of Williams, Stoffel Vandoorne in the second McLaren and New Zealand's Brendon Hartley of Toro Rosso.