Ricciardo reigns among F1 chaos in Azerbaijan
BAKU – Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo won a chaotic Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday, with Formula One championship leader Sebastian Vettel finishing fourth after being penalised for swerving into rival Lewis Hamilton who came home in fifth.
Ferrari’s Vettel was hit with a ten-second stop-go penalty, which saw him drop from second to ninth after he steered into race leader Hamilton under safety car conditions after a red-flag stoppage.
Vettel reacted incredulously when he learnt of the penalty on lap 32, while Hamilton, whose hopes of victory were later ended after he was forced to pit due to a loose head rest, complained over his radio that the sanction was insufficient.
Hamilton’s Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas finished second after overcoming a first-lap collision with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Canadian teenager Lance Stroll came home third to secure his first podium after being overhauled by Bottas on the line.
It was Australian Ricciardo’s first victory since he won the Malaysian Grand Prix last year and it lifted him up to fourth in the standings on 92 points, behind Vettel on 153 and Hamilton on 139.
Stroll’s previous best had been a ninth-place finish on home soil earlier this month, but he kept his nerve under pressure to become the youngest Formula One driver to make the podium in his maiden season.
The anticipated Mercedes dominance was tested early on when Bottas came off the kerb and collided with Ferrari rival Raikkonen, forcing both Finns into the pits early on.
While Raikkonen was ultimately forced to retire later in the race, Bottas staged a remarkable comeback, emulating his fine performance on the Sochi street circuit to battle back to a podium position before overhauling Stroll on the line.
Force India’s Esteban Ocon finished sixth, equalling his career-best, although he may rue missing out on a podium place after he clashed with team mate Sergio Perez, forcing the latter to retire and ending the Mexican’s 37-race streak of consecutive finishes.
Ricciardo’s Red Bull team mate Max Verstappen, the pacesetter during practice on Friday, was forced to retire for the fourth time in the last six races with engine trouble on lap 11 after he attempted to attack Perez and take third. (Reuters)