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#AzerjaibanGP: Lewis Hamilton wins action-packed street race

2018-04-29 17:22

Image: AFP / Kirill Kudryavtsev

Baku, Azerbaijan  — Lewis Hamilton won an incident-packed Azerbaijan Grand Prix Sunday to take over the championship lead.

Sebastian Vettel led for much of the race, but was stuck in second behind Hamilton's Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas when a crash between the two Red Bulls brought out the safety car.

On the restart, Vettel lunged for the lead but could not keep his car on the racing line at the exit of the next corner and instead lost places. Soon afterward, Bottas' right-rear tire picked up a puncture, ending his race and elevating Hamilton to first.

"Really quite an emotional race to be honest," Hamilton said. "Valtteri did such an exceptional job today and really deserved to have the win."

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen claimed second place after having dropped to 14th following an early collision. Sergio Perez held off Vettel for third to claim Force India's first podium since 2016.

The two Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo battled all race for fourth place. After several dramatic near-misses, they collided on lap 40 when Ricciardo ran into the back of Verstappen under braking at the first corner, sending them both off the track.

Bottas had been left in the lead when first Hamilton, then Vettel, stopped for fresh tyres. He would have had to stop soon but for the Red Bull crash, which allowed Bottas to pit and keep the lead.

Romain Grosjean crashed under the safety car on lap 42, sliding into the wall while weaving in an attempt to heat up his tires. That delayed the restart, and when it came Vettel charged down the inside of Bottas but couldn't slow enough to make the corner and went onto a runoff area.

After a start in cool, windy conditions, the safety car was out almost immediately on lap 1 as several cars collided in the middle of the pack.

Sergei Sirotkin ran into the back of Perez, causing contact between several other cars. That in turn left Sirotkin out of the race and Fernando Alonso limping back to the pits with two punctures.

The drama continued at the next turn, where Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen's aggressive lunge at Force India's Esteban Ocon plunged Ocon into the wall and out of the race. Raikkonen needed a new nose and dropped to 14th.

Renault's Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg briefly stormed past both Red Bulls into fourth and fifth, but Sainz lost his spot when he pitted, while Hulkenberg's race ended with a slide into the wall on lap 11.

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