Vettel, Hamilton clash as Ricciardo wins in Baku

The F1 title fight threatened to boil over between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel but Daniel Ricciardo won a thrilling Azerbaijan race.

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo celebrates after winning the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday.   -  Getty Images

Daniel Ricciardo was the beneficiary of a loose headrest for Lewis Hamilton as tensions between the Briton and Formula One title rival Sebastian Vettel threatened to boil over in an enthralling, incident-packed Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Mercedes driver Hamilton, who won in Canada last time out and started on pole, was seemingly on course to pick up a comfortable victory and make further inroads into Vettel's championship advantage after maintaining his lead following a red flag.

Vettel was also hit with a 10-second penalty for deliberately shunting Hamilton when coming into the pits following that flag on lap 22 after several collisions saw the track littered with debris, with the Ferrari man fuming when he felt Hamilton had deliberately slowed down under the safety car, causing contact between the two.

But luck was not on Hamilton's side when his protective head rest came loose and he was forced to pit.

Vettel emerged from his penalty just ahead of Hamilton, and the German fought his way back up to fourth to finish one place in front of his rival in the race of the season and stretch his lead to 14 points.

Ricciardo ultimately went on to claim a surprise victory, the Australian having completed a brilliant move on Williams duo Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll following the red flag.

Valtteri Bottas was involved in a second-corner collision with Kimi Raikkonen on lap one, but fought back from dead last to pip Stroll to second on the line and limit the damage for Mercedes – Stroll having the consolation of a becoming the youngest rookie to secure a podium finish.

 

BRILLIANT BOTTAS RECOVERY

It had looked like being a disappointing day for Bottas, who collided with Raikkonen at the start of the race and was a lap back. But two safety cars and the red flag brought him back into the pack and the drama involving Hamilton and Vettel saw him gain further ground and the Finn eventually edged out Stroll to clinch second.

DESTRUCTION DERBY FOR RAIKKONEN

It was a simply unlucky day for Raikkonen. Not only was he shunted by Bottas in that lap-one incident, but a piece of his battered car came loose to quickly bring out the second safety car. If that was not bad enough, Raikkonen suffered a puncture from loose debris from a coming together between the Force India duo of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon. The lengthy delay meant he did return, but later was forced to retire.

FORCE INDIAS COLLIDE

There was tension in Canada between Ocon and Perez, when the latter refused to let his team-mate past to challenge Ricciardo in third. The situation was smoothed over and the message from the team was let them race. Perez was absolutely flying and challenging Vettel for second, while Ocon was also well in the points. However, as the pack bunched up when the race resumed for a second time, the Force Indias came together, causing significant damage. Ocon eventually recovered to sixth, but Perez later called it a day.

MORE MISERY FOR MAX

Two weeks ago, Max Verstappen was fighting for a podium finish in Canada after jumping from fifth to second off the line before engine failure curtailed his race on lap 11. Fast forward a fortnight and it was another moment to forget for the Dutchman. Verstappen was in a keen battle for third with Perez, before he once again reported an engine issue. "Yep, here we go again," was Verstappen's despondent message over the team radio.

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 2:03:55.570
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +3.904
3. Lance Stroll (Williams) +4.009
4. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +5.976
5. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +6.188
6. Esteban Ocon (Force India) +30.298
7. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +41.753
8. Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso) +49.400
9. Fernando Alonso (McLaren) +59.551
10. Pascal Werhlein (Sauber) +89.093

DRIVER STANDINGS

1. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) – 153
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 139
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 111
4. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) - 92
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) – 73

CONSTRUCTOR STANDINGS

1. Mercedes - 250
2. Ferrari – 226
3. Red Bull – 137
4. Force India – 79
5. Williams – 33

NEXT UP
The drivers get two weeks' rest before the European swing continues in Austria on July 9.

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