Lewis Hamilton was handed victory in a madcap finish to a chaotic, incident-strewn Azerbaijan Grand Prix during which both Red Bulls sensationally collided with each other.
By SportBrief Reporter
Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas was on course to win after Mercedes took advantage of a late safety car to jump long-time leader Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari.
But, after Vettel had thrown away second place with a mistake at the restart, Bottas suffered a puncture on the next lap.
His two rivals out of the way, Hamilton was given victory and the championship lead on a plate after looking set to finish third.
Two weeks after being hailed as the master overtaker, Ricciardo may have to take some of the blame for Red Bull’s worst intra-team incident for years
The late safety car had been triggered by a crash between the two Red Bulls, when Daniel Ricciardo slammed into the back of team-mate Max Verstappen while trying to pass into the first corner.
There will be recriminations at Red Bull, whose drivers had appeared on the edge of a crash for much of the race as Ricciardo fought to pass Verstappen and the Dutchman defended right on the edge of acceptability, and some might say beyond.
Red Bull are well known for employing two drivers who fight fiercely on track, but there has not been a coming together of this magnitude since Vettel and Mark Webber ended each other’s race during the Turkish Grand Prix in 2010.
But although their incident – for which they both received a reprimand from race stewards – will generate headlines they had a bit part in a race that for so long Vettel looked to have in a headlock.
After the Red Bull collision Lewis’ teammate, Bottas then seemed set for the win, but ran over debris on the next lap and suffered a major tyre failure as he passed the pits with three laps to go.
Hamilton, who took his first win since last October’s US Grand Prix and a four-point championship lead over Vettel, was disbelieving afterwards.
“Really quite an emotional race,” he said. “Valtteri did such an exceptional job and really deserved the win. I was very fortunate. It feels a bit odd, but I’ve got to take it.”