Daniel Ricciardo has bagged an extremely unexpected win at today's Azerbaijan Grand Prix, recovering from an early stop to navigate through the field while benefiting from crashes and penalties of others as well. Valtteri Bottas finished second ahead of Lance Stroll who becomes the youngest podium finisher in the sport at 18 years and 239 days.
As the lights went out, Lewis Hamilton maintained the lead from pole position, even though he quite drastically cut off Bottas on the run to Turn 1. Bottas remained in the eye of the storm at lap 2 as he slipped into Raikkonen on the exit of the turn, as the Ferrari driver had chosen to take the corner around the outside of the Mercedes. Raikkonen was pushed into the wall, resulting in some "driveability damage" for the Ferrari driver, and a flat tyre for Bottas, who subsequently pitted to change to soft tyres.
Raikkonen was left furious but he continued to race on in 5th position. Vettel moved up to second place while Perez progressed into 3rd, ahead of Verstappen.
Following Palmer's retirement with technical issues, Kvyat stopped out on track with apparently overheating front brakes. The location of his car forced a safety car out on track, as removal required a truck to go onto the track, on the racing line to get the track cleared. At lap 13, this obviously meant lots and lots of pitstops, with most drivers changing from super soft to soft tyres. Hamilton, Vettel and Perez stopped immediately, while fourth placed Max Verstappen suffered an engine problem and had to retire from the race. This brought an early end to his battle for third, and relief for the Mexican.
Ricciardo also stopped again, but for him it was his second stop, so he handily reverted to a new set of super softs. Placed 10th in the safety car queue, this offset him between the other runners ahead of him who were all on the super softs.
3 laps later, the safety car was off the track, only to return a single lap later, as it appeared like there was still a lot of debris not cleared yet, at different venues on the track. When asked by Hamilton what was going on, his Mercedes engineer admitted it was "just messy".
On lap 20, the racing was on again. Positions at the time were HAM, VET, PER, MAS, OCO, RAI, STR, HUL, RIC, MAG, ALO, SAI, VAN, GRO, ERI, BOT, WEH.
Just when they were preparing to get going again, Vettel bumped into the back of Hamilton, and when he went aside of him, also bumped wheels with the Mercedes driver. Hamilton was unfazed and veered off to restart the race while Vettel kept second, despite having been under threat from Force India and Massa. His bump did also cost him some parts of his front wing, and an investigation from the stewards as well.
In Turn 1, Raikkonen suffered a right rear puncture, while at Turn 2, Ocon had the same as he touched with Perez. Raikkonen was pulled into the box and retired due to car damage. Perez retired as well while Ocon did get out again, despite having trouble getting out of the pits.
After another 2 laps behind the safety car, the race was red flagged to clear out any remaining debris. Amidst the confusion, Perez and Raikkonen eventually rejoined the race on the restart, but were later handed a drive through penalty, as both of their crews has worked on the cars while in the pit boxes - whereas the rules only allow work to happen while the car is positioned in the fast lane.
The restart didn't disappoint either. Hamilton only just managed to keep the lead, while Ricciardo moved up from 5th to 3rd in a single braking move into Turn 1. It was the beginning of the end for Massa however, as he noted his car was extremely difficult to drive. 2 laps later, he retired from the race after mechanics investigated his car in the pitlane.
One lap later, Alonso moved up to 6th, having first passed Sainz, and then seeing Hulkenberg brush the wall and retire from the race. The German Renault driver was lucky he could just park his car in the run off at Turn 8, otherwise this would have been yet another safety car.
On lap 30, Hamilton encountered a problem with his headrest that appeared to come loose. The Briton tried to keep the part down for several laps, but eventually had to pit on lap 32 to get a new one. He returned to the track in 8th position, behind Alonso, Ocon and Bottas.
At the same time, Vettel was handed a 10 second stop and go penalty for his deliberate crash with Hamilton. One lap later, he completed that penalty, and rejoined the track ahead of Hamilton.
The result of this was that Ricciardo led the race, ahead of Stroll and Ocon.
By lap 38, Ricciardo was 5s ahead of Stroll. Icon held on to third, but got company from Bottas, Vetel and Hamiton. The Finnish Mercedes driver didn't mess about and passed Ocon on his first chance, immediately setting fastest lap of the race at the same time. Second placed Stroll was however 12s further ahead.
On lap 42, Perez retired due to a broken seat.
Meanwhile, Bottas did all he could to get to Stroll, while Hamilton pushed hard to get back on Vettel. For Hamilton, the race was maybe a few laps too short, but Bottas managed to get past Stroll just ahead of the finish straight. Still, that secures Stroll to be the youngest podium finisher in F1 ever, and an unexpected victory for Red Bull Racing and Daniel Ricciardo.