Hamilton wins 'untidy' race

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton gives the thumbs up on the podium after winning the incident-filled Azerbaijan Grand Prix at the Baku City Circuit.
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton gives the thumbs up on the podium after winning the incident-filled Azerbaijan Grand Prix at the Baku City Circuit.PHOTO: REUTERS

Mercedes star leads standings after taking advantage of team-mate Bottas' misfortune

BAKU • Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton celebrated one of the luckiest wins of his career yesterday, after a crash-strewn and chaotic Azerbaijan Grand Prix that catapulted him into the lead of the Formula One world championship.

The victory, wholly unexpected as he did not have the pace of the Ferrari all weekend, came after team-mate Valtteri Bottas suffered a puncture with three laps left while leading.

It ended a six-race drought for the four-time world champion dating back to last October and was the first victory of the season for reigning champions Mercedes.

In a race where the safety car again played a major part, with a series of crashes and smashes, Kimi Raikkonen finished second for Ferrari while Mexican Sergio Perez was third for Force India.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, who had led the championship before Baku and looked to be on course for a 50th career win and third out of four this season, started on pole position but finished fourth.

Hamilton now has 70 points to Vettel's 66. Red Bull's Australian 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.

  • AZERBAIJAN GP 

  • RESULTS

    1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes 1hr 43min 44.291sec

    2 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari +2.460

    3 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India +4.024

    4 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari +5.329

    Carlos Sainz (Esp) Renault +7.515

    6 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Sauber +9.158

    7 Fernando Alonso (Esp) McLaren +10.931

    8 Lance Stroll (Can) Williams +12.546

    9 Stoffel Vandoorne (Bel) McLaren +14.152

    10 Brendon Hartley (Nzl) Toro Rosso +18.030

    14 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes 48 laps

  • NOT CLASSIFIED 

    Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 39 laps

    Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull 39 laps

  • OVERALL STANDINGS - DRIVERS 

    1 Hamilton 70pts 

    2 Vettel 66 

    Raikkonen 48 

    Bottas 40 

    5 Ricciardo 37 

  • CONSTRUCTORS 

    1 Ferrari 114

    2 Mercedes 110

    Red Bull 55

    4 McLaren 36

    Renault 35 

    SOURCE: FORMULA1.COM

"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," said Hamilton on the podium after his 63rd career victory and first in Azerbaijan.

"Definitely an untidy race for me."

The Briton struggled for grip in both practice and qualifying. He had started on the front row for the first time since he took pole in the Australian season-opener but never looked like winning until Lady Luck removed both Vettel and Bottas from the equation.

"It was such a crazy race, such an exciting race... to come out with a win, I feel incredibly grateful," said Hamilton, who went to commiserate with Bottas after parking his car at the finish.

He and Mercedes, however, know a stern test awaits.

The opening four rounds suggest that Ferrari have a solid platform across tracks and conditions where Hamilton's ride is proving more difficult to manage.

Only 13 cars finished yesterday's race.

Spaniard Carlos Sainz was fifth for Renault with Monegasque rookie Charles Leclerc sixth for Sauber, his first points in Formula One. New Zealander Brendon Hartley was also celebrating his first point after taking 10th spot for Toro Rosso.

McLaren, who had their worst qualifying of the season on Saturday, ended up with a double points finish - Fernando Alonso seventh and Stoffel Vandoorne ninth.

Canadian teenager Lance Stroll, third in Baku last year, finished eighth to give struggling former champions Williams their first points of the year.

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 30, 2018, with the headline 'Hamilton wins 'untidy' race'. Print Edition | Subscribe