Daniel Ricciardo wins incident-filled F1 race in Azerbaijan

Daniel Ricciardo started 10th and won Sunday's Azerbaijan GP. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
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Daniel Ricciardo won Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix from 10th on the grid following one of the craziest races the sport has seen in a while.

Lewis Hamilton led the field away for the first of 51 laps Sunday afternoon on the streets of Baku and, while the Brit had a clean start, it wasn’t so pretty behind him.

Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen came together in Turn 2 while battling for second while Carlos Sainz spun trying to avoid his teammate Daniil Kvyat who was coming back on course after being forced off in Turn 1.

Raikkonen dropped to fifth while Bottas was the big loser as he suffered a puncture on his Mercedes and dropped to last.

The top three was now Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Sergio Perez, and remained that way until Lap 12 when Max Verstappen started to challenge Perez for the last podium spot.

However, the battle was short-lived as Verstappen’s Red Bull then broke down right at the time the safety car was deployed for the stationary Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat, who had stopped on course with a mechanical issue.

All of the drivers chose to make their stops under the safety car period, which ended on Lap 16.

The restart was frantic, with Perez challenging Vettel for second while Felipe Massa, Esteban Ocon and Kimi Raikkonen went three-wide for fourth. Unfortunately, that battle was also short-lived as the safety car was deployed for a second time due to debris as pieces flew off of Kimi Raikkonen’s front wing.

Under the safety car, Hamilton checked up exiting a turn and Vettel ran into the back of him. Frustrated, Vettel pulled up alongside Hamilton and drove into the side of him. This would later prove costly.

The race was restarted again and Vettel, Perez and Felipe Massa went three-wide for second. Perez came off worst and dropped back, where he was then forced into the wall by his teammate Esteban Ocon. Raikkonen also picked up some damage, and Raikkonen, Perez and Ocon were all forced to pit as the safety car was deployed for a third time. Ocon was able to rejoin while it looked like Raikkonen and Perez would be out.

However, the red flag was eventually deployed and Raikkonen and Perez’s cars were able to return to the race after getting repairs, although they both ultimately failed to finish.

When the race got back under way, Daniel Ricciardo powered by the two Williams teammates and took third entering Turn 1. This move would end up giving him the race.

Massa soon retired from the race after running up front, as did the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg who clipped the wall.

Hamilton then led Vettel and Ricciardo, but then Hamilton hit trouble as his head rest was coming loose and he had to pit to get it fixed.

Vettel was also forced to pit for a 10-second stop-go penalty for hitting Hamilton under the safety car, and Daniel Ricciardo was the new leader.

Rounding out the top five with 20 laps to go was Lance Stroll, Kevin Magnussen, Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso.

Ocon then took the final podium spot from Magnussen who dropped further back in the top 10. Then, Bottas – who had worked his way back up to the front after getting a lap back under the first safety car period – moved up to third ahead of Ocon with 12 laps to go. Ocon then lost spots to Vettel and Hamilton, who were charging their way back up through the field.

However, they had nothing for the podium finishers and Ricciardo crossed the line ahead of Bottas, who just got Stroll at the line, while Vettel and Hamilton rounded out the top five.

“That was a crazy race,” admitted Ricciardo on the podium. “We knew we had a chance of the podium after the restart and then the problems with Lewis and Seb…

“Did I think we would win today? Absolutely not.”

Unofficial race results:

1. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull

2. Valtteri Bottas – Mercedes

3. Lance Stroll – Williams

4. Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari

5. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes

6. Esteban Ocon – Force India

7. Kevin Magnussen – Haas

8. Carlos Sainz – Toro Rosso

9. Fernando Alonso – McLaren

10. Pascal Wehrlein – Sauber

11. Marcus Ericsson – Sauber

12. Stoffel Vandoorne – McLaren

13. Romain Grosjean – Haas

14. Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari (DNF)

15. Sergio Perez – Force India (DNF)

16. Felipe Massa – Williams (DNF)

17. Nico Hulkenberg – Renault (DNF)

18. Max Verstappen – Red Bull (DNF)

19. Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso (DNF)

20. Jolyon Palmer – Renault (DNF)