The Formula One season came alive in Azerbaijan on Sunday following a frenetic race which saw four safety cars, one red flag, and an improbable winner.
Daniel Ricciardo claimed his first victory of the year after championship leader Sebastian Vettel hit Lewis Hamilton on two occasions.
Here, Press Association Sport looks back at five things we learned from the eighth round of the championship in Baku.
1. GLOVES OFF IN TITLE BATTLE
Lewis Hamilton’s amorous rivalry with Sebastian Vettel evaporated in an instance at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix following what can only be described as a moment of madness from the Ferrari driver. The case for Vettel’s defence was sparse. Data, studied by the race stewards, proved that Hamilton did not ‘brake-test’ his rival – and that Vettel deliberately veered his car in the Briton’s direction.
After the second round of the championship in China, Hamilton claimed he could not foresee that their friendship might derail. His mood here on Sunday night suggested otherwise. “If I had had any ill intent, in terms of my driving towards him, brake testing, or whatever it may be, I still think it’s not deserving of that kind of reaction from a person you do have respect for,” Hamilton said. “I need some time to reflect, but ultimately what happened was disrespectful.”
2. SO, WHAT NEXT FOR VETTEL?
The FIA, Formula One’s governing body, are under pressure to sanction Vettel for bringing the sport into disrepute. Vettel, who escaped punishment at last October’s Mexican Grand Prix, despite telling veteran race director Charlie Whiting to “f*** off”, now has nine points on his licence after three were added to his tally following his antics on Sunday. Vettel will be faced with a one-race ban if he reaches 12 at the Austrian Grand Prix a week on Sunday. The German did not want to apologise. He also scoffed at suggestions his reputation had been tarnished.
3. STROLL BREAKS PODIUM RECORD
Lance Stroll was an 18-year-old under pressure following a difficult start to his life in the sport. But after scoring the first points of his career at his home race in Canada a fortnight ago, Stroll followed it up with his very first podium here in Baku. Stroll kept his head, and was on course to finish second, only for Valtteri Bottas to pip him on the line. It did little to dampen Stroll’s mood. At 18 years and 239 days, he is the youngest rookie to step on the podium, and the first Canadian since Jacques Villeneuve 16 years ago.
4. SOME GOOD (ISH) NEWS FOR MCLAREN
Fernando Alonso recorded both his and McLaren’s first points of the season after he finished ninth. But the 35-year-old Spaniard, who started 19th following a series of grid penalties, believes he could have won. Alonso, out of contract at the end of the year, was as high as fifth during the race. He said: “I think we could have fought for a podium finish today and perhaps even the victory. We missed out on further opportunities because we weren’t quick enough in the race and couldn’t hold on to that position.”
5. FORCE INDIA CARS COLLIDE AGAIN
Force India team-mates Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon crashed into each other for the second successive race. Ocon attempted to pass Perez at the re-start, but the pair banged wheels. Given how the race unfolded, it is not inconceivable that Force India could have claimed their very first victory. As it was, Perez retired, while Ocon limped home in sixth. They were running in fourth and fifth at the time of the incident. “It was just over-aggressive,” said Perez. “In all my career I’ve had team-mates who have been hard, but given enough room. What happened is totally unacceptable for the team.”
Know more about Sport360 Application