Hamilton takes first win of the season at F1 Azerbaijan

  It took four races for Lewis Hamilton to get the win in the 2018 season, at the rather new Baku Circuit in Azerbaijan. It was Hamilton’s 63rd career win and first at Baku. It wasn’t Hamilton’s win until the final two laps when team mate Valtteri Bottas, who led the race in the closing stint, suffered a puncture and dropped out of the race.

The race was full of incidents, highlighted by the Red Bulls crash. Safety cars had to intervene and disrupted a supposedly clean race. In the final laps, Hamilton held on to the lead from the charging Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastien Vettel, with Force India’s Sergio Perez also in the mix. Vettel, who led the race at the start, was on the verge of a podium finish but was pipped by Perez in the last lap to end up fourth.

With the win, Hamilton tops the standings with 70 points, four points from Vettel, 66 points. Ferrari hang on to the top spot in the constructors with 114 points, only four points from Mercedes.

Selected drivers quotes:

Hamilton: “This is such a crazy and exciting race and I never gave up. I was constantly pushing but it was a real struggle. I feel incredibly grateful to come out with the win. You have to take the ups with the downs and I can’t complain that I won; I will take it and hopefully learn from today. But Valtteri was very, very unfortunate, a one-two would have been a great result for the team. I would not have got by him in the remaining laps if he hadn’t had his tyre blow. It looks like Ferrari still has the better car, they outperformed us most of the weekend. We were able to just hold on to them during the race.”

Raikkonen: “It was not the easiest or most enjoyable race. After the accident with Esteban on the first lap, I had to come in to change the nose and switch to Soft tires. I don’t know if my car was damaged, but overall the feeling was ok. The tires were not consistent, a bit on-and-off; I was struggling to keep them warm enough and had some difficult moments. Some laps they felt good and some others it was more tricky. After that, things went back to normal. I tried to stay out of trouble, pushing when it felt right to do so and do my own race. I was expecting something to happen sooner or later. It’s never too late; you need to be ready, because you never know what can happen until the race is finished. We are pretty confident for the future, because we have the speed, and this is the main thing.”

Perez: “We started with an incident on the first lap when I was hit from behind by a Williams [Sirotkin]. That pushed me into Kimi [Raikkonen] and broke my front wing so I had to pit. I was at the back and then I was given a five seconds penalty. I was able to make my way through the field and when the Safety Car came out we managed to keep our position. The team did a great pit stop and I was able to serve my penalty and still come out in front of Grosjean. I was looking after my tyres because we only had SuperSofts left and warming them up was very difficult. I was struggling and every corner was a lottery, but then I saw the cars in front of me were struggling too. I passed Seb [Vettel] but then he recovered and put pressure on me.”

Vettel: “We are not entirely happy, because we could have won. In fact, I am very upset about losing the position at the restart, because I didn’t want that to happen, but there are also so many positive aspects to take from this race. When the safety car pulled away, I saw a gap and I went for it, but obviously it didn’t work. So, now it’s easy for everyone to say that it was too big a risk, but I was driving at 330 kph on the straight, there was no reference on the left and I didn’t really have many options. Lewis was on the right, while Valtteri was ahead, but I couldn’t really go to the right. I also wanted to go for the inside, but once I locked up, it was tough luck. After that, with the flat spot, it was a shame that I had to give the position to Sergio. ”

Carlos Sainz: “It’s a very strong result for the team. I’m very happy and it was a really fun race, as always in Baku. It was crazy out there as the grip was difficult today. The first stint was very strong and I was able to overtake both Red Bulls on track. Then, the soft tyre was trickier for us and in the end we had to battle for that fifth place.”

Lance Stroll: “It was a crazy race. So much happened. I am pretty happy with the race, there were perhaps one or two more positions if we did everything perfectly, but no one had a perfect race today. In that battle with Fernando at the end I think I should have held him there, but he surprised me into turn three. I didn’t really see him coming back on the inside and he just managed to sneak through, but that was probably the only little bit we missed today.”

Brendon Hartley: “That was an interesting race! From my point of view, I kept it clean but we didn’t really have the pace today to challenge in the midfield. In the areas we needed to overtake we just couldn’t get close enough. There was a lot of drama around me, but I managed to keep my nose clean and take home my first point in F1, which is great!”

2018 Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix results

1 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES  1:43:44.291
2 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI  +2.460s
3 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA  +4.024s
4 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI  +5.329s
5 55 Carlos Sainz RENAULT  +7.515s
6 16 Charles Leclerc SAUBER  +9.158s
7 14 Fernando Alonso MCLAREN +10.931s
8 18 Lance Stroll WILLIAMS +12.546s
9 2 Stoffel Vandoorne MCLAREN  +14.152s
10 28 Brendon Hartley SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO  +18.030s
11 9 Marcus Ericsson SAUBER FERRARI  +18.512s
12 10 Pierre Gasly SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO +24.720s
13 20 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI  +40.663s

Drivers standings
1 Lewis Hamilton GBR MERCEDES 70
2 Sebastian Vettel GER FERRARI 66
3 Kimi Räikkönen FIN FERRARI 48
4 Valtteri Bottas FIN MERCEDES 40
5 Daniel Ricciardo AUS RED BULL RACING  37
6 Fernando Alonso ESP MCLAREN RENAULT 28
7 Nico Hulkenberg GER RENAULT 22
8 Max Verstappen NED RED BULL RACING  18
9 Sergio Perez MEX FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 15
10 Carlos Sainz ESP RENAULT 13
11 Pierre Gasly FRA SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 12
12 Kevin Magnussen DEN HAAS FERRARI 11
13 Charles Leclerc MON SAUBER FERRARI 8
14 Stoffel Vandoorne BEL MCLAREN RENAULT 8
15 Lance Stroll CAN WILLIAMS MERCEDES 4
16 Marcus Ericsson SWE SAUBER FERRARI 2
17 Esteban Ocon FRA FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1
18 Brendon Hartley NZL SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 1

Constructors rankings
1 FERRARI 114
2 MERCEDES 110
3 RED BULL RACING  55
4 MCLAREN RENAULT 36
5 RENAULT 35
6 FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 16
7 SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 13
8 HAAS FERRARI 11
9 SAUBER FERRARI 10
10 WILLIAMS MERCEDES 4