We said last year was boring and this year Baku was anything but.
It was the win for Ricciardo with the young Lance Stroll being beaten to 2nd on the line by Bottas and Mclaren finally scored points with Fernando Alonso.
The start was pretty normal with everyone getting a clean start. Bottas and Raikkonen came together with the former getting puncture.
Kvyat went off at turn one and when he came back on track he caught out team mate Sainz, with the latter spinning out.
Then came the first of the retirements with Palmer having an engine failure.
Despite many believing it would be a one stop race with drivers pitting around lap 28. Ricciardo made an early stop on lap 6. to clear some debry from the car. Not long after Danill Kvyat’s engine gave up with the Russian parking up next to the wall. With Verstappen following suit.
Because this was a difficult recovery position a safety car was called. And half a lap after the restart it was back out when debry fell off Raikkonen’s car puncturing his rear tyre. He later pitted and retired due the excessive damage.
As the grid prepared for the restart Vettel got a little too close to the rear of Hamilton, the former hitting Hamilton’s rear end. Only to then drive into Hamilton’s side in anger.
When the race did restart it was the turn of the Force India’s to have a coming together. Whilst Perez was trying to overtake, Ocon came from the inside and banged him into the wall, damaging the Mexican’s suspension and forcing a retirement.
Due to the amount of debry on the track another safety car was called and the race the later red flagged.
The stop gave the mechanics in the Ferrari and Force India garages time to repair Raikkonen’s and Perez’s cars. As such they where allowed to unlap themselves before the grid went back out. However they where both later penalised for the mechanics working on the cars outside the fast lane during the red flag.
Hamilton led the field for the restart and seemed to be taking it extremely slowly before flooring it on the main straight.
Hulkenberg then came a cropper to Baku’s tight city streets clipping the front right ending his race. Massa was also having problems when a suspension damper failed causing the car bounce around. He later retired with the problem.
Then something weird happened. Hamilton’s head rest came loose with the Brit trying his best to put it back. Holding one hand on the wheel and one on the headrest. After failing to secure it he was forced to pit and replace it.
This seemed to be a blessing for Vettel but just as the Brit came in Vettel was given a 10 second stop-go penalty for unsportsmanlike behaviour. After taking the penalty Vettel came out just in front Hamilton both with Ocon, Alonso and more to overtake.
Meanwhile Bottas was chasing down Stroll after having been in last following his first lap clash with Raikkonen.
After getting past everyone upto P3 it was a straight fight between the two rivals of Hamilton and Vettel.
However the action was further up where Bottas was ever closer to Stroll and with just the last straight to go Bottas made his move and passed the 18 year old just meters from the line.
Ricciardo took a comfortable win and Mclaren’s Fernando Alonso finished in 9th to take the teams first points of the season.
It was one heck of a race and i doubt we’ll see anything like it soon.
In the words of Murray Walker “Anything can happen in Formula 1, and it usually does.”
Final results are as follows