An exciting F1 season raised it a notch in Azerbaijan with Ricciardo, Bottas and Stroll taking the podium ahead of the squabbling Vettel and Hamilton.
The action-packed race in Azerbaijan featured three safety cars, a bust-up between the championship leaders and an unlikely finish with Williams’ 18-year old Lance Stroll finishing third behind Ricciardo and Bottas to make for another thrilling chapter in the 2017 Formula One season.
The trio made for a pleasantly fresh podium finish in Baku after Hamilton and Vettel slipped up. However, their results were well-earned. Both Ricciardo and Bottas climbed brilliantly despite having fallen way behind after running into troubles of their own. And Stroll held-on quite well in the closing stages to secure his first ever podium finish. The Canadian is now the second youngest F1 driver in history to bag one.
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The major talking point, however, remains the heated incident involving Vettel and Hamilton on lap 19 at the restart after the second safety car. The German ran into Hamilton as they were coming out of turn 15, damaging his front wing. Clearly incensed, Vettel then pulled-up alongside Hamilton, gesticulating at the Briton and swerved into his car.
Tempers ran hot as Vettel claimed Hamilton was attempting to “brake-test” him at the turn. Hamilton on the other hand was furious with the German’s “disgusting driving”, calling it “not sportsman’s conduct”. While the clash itself wasn’t particularly dangerous as both cars were slow, it did have an impact. Vettel was subsequently handed a 10-second stop-go penalty, effectively ending his chances of a win. And Hamilton, forced to take an extra stop to deal with an errant head-rest, had to fight hard for fifth.
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Ricciardo and Bottas post impressive comebacks while Stroll sets rookie record
The new rules this year have predictably transformed the intensity and drama of the championship. Few would have expected such a free-for-all, however, of the likes seen in Azerbaijan. With collisions and brush-ups constantly strewing the track with debris, there were several safety car periods, and a red flag that kept shifting the dynamic. And there were a number of casualties, too, with Verstappen, Perez and Massa among those dropping out.
But there was some fine driving on display as well. Even as Vettel and Hamilton continued to bristle in the wake of their collision, Ricciardo and Bottas were scripting remarkable comebacks. Ricciardo had to claw his way back up from 17th, having to clear debris from his brake ducts. And the Australian made excellent time, too, making it to 5th by the second safety car period.
Bottas too climbed rapidly after colliding with Raikkonen at the start and making good use of the safety car periods. And once Hamilton and Vettel dropped away, it was a tussle between Bottas and Stroll for second with the Finn eventually passing the young Canadian on the final straight to nick it. Vettel finished fourth ahead of Hamilton, managing to keep the Briton at bay in the final laps. He now leads Hamilton by 14 points in the championship eight races in.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) June 25, 2017
“I think he disgraced himself today, to be honest.”
What turned out to be the defining moment in Baku could well be one of several major flashpoints of an exciting season. The clash between Vettel and Hamilton on lap 19 earned the German a 10-second stop-go penalty for his reaction. And ostensibly, it also shook Hamilton up enough to force him into the extra stop that cost him precious points.
The Briton, in particular, was seething after the race, calling for Vettel to settle things “face to face”:
“Driving alongside and deliberately driving into a driver and getting away scot‑free pretty much – he still came away with fourth – I think that’s a disgrace. I think he disgraced himself today, to be honest.”
“If he wants to prove that he’s a man, I think he should do it out of the car face to face. I think driving dangerously which can put another driver at risk – luckily we were going slow – but if we were going fast it could have been a lot worse.
“Imagine all the young kids that are watching Formula One today and see that kind of behaviour from a four-time world champion. I think that says it all.”
UPDATED DRIVER STANDINGS
The dust has just about settled on a crazy #AzerbaijanGP
Here's how things now stand ?⬇️ pic.twitter.com/D9wiUSQ86w
— Formula 1 (@F1) June 25, 2017
Vettel, however, continued to point the finger at Hamilton, insisting that the Briton brake-checked him at the turn:
“I didn’t run into the back of him on purpose. I damaged my wing, I think he had a little bit of damage as well.
“In the end we’re racing as men. I don’t have a radio to him. If I get a penalty, then we should both get a penalty.”
“We had a little contact, but I drove alongside him mostly to raise my hand. I did not give him the finger. I just wanted to tell him, because I can’t literally talk to him, that what he did was not right.”