Lewis Hamilton took his 63rd career victory today – his first in Azerbaijan and of the 2018 season.
Scuderia Ferrari dominated this whole weekend right up to a few laps before the end and leaves Baku with second and fourth places for Raikkonen and Vettel respectively. The Azerbaijan Grand Prix turned out to be a totally unpredictable race, with the Safety Car closing down the gaps and robbing the leader Vettel of victory, but handing Kimi a lifeline after he had started further back. After four rounds, Scuderia Ferrari leads the Constructors’ championship by four points, while Sebastian is second in the Drivers’ classification, four points off Hamilton.
On the grid, the front runners were all on Supersofts, with the exception of Raikkonen who was using Ultrasofts. Seb maintained his pole advantage at the start, while Kimi was fighting with Ocon and right from the start, the debris was flying. Esteban ended up in the barrier and Kimi needed to pit for a set of Soft tyres and a front wing, as the Safety Car made its first appearance….
On lap 40, as the two Red Bulls collided on the straight, which brought out the Safety Car, leading Ferrari to opt for a double pit stop. Seb and Kimi came in close formation. The Safety Car led the pack through the pit lane with Bottas in front on used Ultrasofts, followed by Seb, Hamilton and Kimi on new Ultrasofts. Ten laps to go and everything was up for grabs again, as Grosjean, in the process of warming his tyres, hit the wall, so the safety car period was extended.
Hamilton close the gap and win the race with Kimi Raikkonen in second place and surprised Perez for Force India on third.
Ferrari (114 points) leads the Constructors’ Championship by four points from Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport (110 points)
I have very mixed emotions today. Valtteri deserved to win, he did an exceptional job and had a faultless drive. 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. We definitely have some work to do, but we are in the mix and it’s going to be very close. We have to keep our heads down and keep working.
Kimi 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. We just need to minimize all the mistakes and the issues to be up there all the time. Today obviously feels better than yesterday, it worked out pretty ok. I will happily take this second place, considering the tricky race we had.”
Sergio Perez: Yeah, two years ago. I think today I did the best two laps of my whole career. The last two laps with Sebastian behind, with cold tyres, it was so difficult. I was on the supersoft tyre. I had to keep a very strong rhythm, trying to keep close to Räikkönen, to make sure that Sebastian didn’t get close enough, and in the end we did a real… I’m speechless.