There was plenty of drama on Sunday at the 2017 Formula One Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku. Despite it all, Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo managed to emerge from it the victor even after dropping to the back of the grid at one point.
The 2016 race in Baku, Azerbaijan, was, to put it nicely, boring. The 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix was, to put it nicely, interesting. When the race finally ended, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo had won, having dropped back to 17th early in the race. Valtteri Bottas and his Mercedes stole second from the Williams of Lance Stroll while crossing the finish line. Bottas was a lap down after the first lap of the race.
The safety car was deployed three times. The race was red flagged once. Seven cars were retired by the end. Two of those retired twice. Fernando Alonso scored his and the team’s first points of the year. The Force India drivers had another on-track issue with each other. Sebastian Vettelintentionally ran his Ferrari into the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton—while under the safety car.
Let’s try to make sense of all of this. A first lap incident was the catalyst for much of what happened later in the race. Going into turn 3, Bottas took a little too much curb and couldn’t get his car turned fast enough. Thankfully for him, Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari was there to keep him from hitting the wall. Bottas damaged the car’s nose and punctured his front right as he pushed Raikkonen into the wall. The impact caused Raikkonen’s car to lose all sorts of little winglets and bits, which the car shed—piece by piece—over the course of the next 16 laps.
Bottas limped around the second longest track on the Formula One calendar. By the time he left the pits after getting a new nose and tires, he had been lapped by almost half the field. Things were not looking good for even a decent result. This seemingly minor crash was the start of putting cars out of position. It was also the beginning of Raikkonen cosplaying as Johnny Appleseed, but with carbon fiber instead of apples, around the track.
A few laps later, Ricciardo pitted early after starting tenth. Debris from the Bottas/Raikkonen collision had found its way into his brake ducts causing them to start to overheat. After clearing the ducts, Ricciardo rejoined the field in 17th. Things were not looking good for even a decent result. Max Verstappen also picked up a bunch of debris from the Bottas/Raikkonen clash. Verstappen would be out by lap 11, stopping his car on track.
On lap 11, Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso stopped on track. This brought out the first safety car so his car could be removed. The race resumed on lap 16 and the safety car was almost immediately called back out. Raikkonen’s Ferrari shed some large pieces on the restart, leaving the front straight littered with debris.
While leading the field under the safety car, Hamilton was hit from behind by Vettel as they exited a corner. Vettel would later say that he thought Hamilton brake-checked him. The contact damaged Vettel’s front wing. He then pulled alongside Hamilton, waving his hand at him. Vettel then turned his car into Hamilton’s, making wheel-to-wheel contact.
Full Results for the 2017 Formula One Azerbaijan Grand Prix:
1) Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing
2) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG +3.904 seconds
3) Lance Stroll, Williams +4.009 seconds
4) Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari +5.976 seconds
5) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG +6.188 seconds
6) Esteban Ocon, Force India +30.298 seconds
7) Kevin Magnussen, Haas +41.753 seconds
8) Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso +49.400 seconds
9) Fernando Alonso, McLaren +59.551 seconds
10) Pascal Wehrlein, Sauber +89.093 seconds
11) Marcus Ericsson, Sauber +91.794 seconds
12) Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren +92.160 seconds
13) Romain Grosjean, Haas +1 lap
Ret) Kimi Räikkönen, Ferrari
Ret) Sergio Perez, Force India
Ret) Felipe Massa, Williams
Ret) Nico Hulkenberg, Renault
Ret) Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing
Ret) Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso
Ret ) Jolyon Palmer, Renault