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F1: Ricciardo wins in Baku, Hamilton & Vettel clash on track

Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo has won the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, while title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel made contact on track after the Ferrari driver steered into his British rival to express his frustration over an alleged brake check by Hamilton, thus earning a penalty for dangerous driving. Meanwhile, the other Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas finished second on the podium, while Lance Stroll became the youngest rookie driver to get a podium finish by bringing his Williams to the finish on the third place.

The 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix was undoubtedly the most chaotic races in the recent past, with multiple cars making contact, three safety car periods and a red flag race stoppage. The race started with Lewis Hamilton on pole, followed by team mate Valtteri Bottas and the two Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.

Bottas clipped the kerb of turn 2 on the opening lap that shunted his Mercedes into Raikkonen's Ferrari. This resulted in damage to both cars. Bottas suffered a puncture and thus was forced to pit. He rejoined the race at the last spot and was a lap behind the leaders at one point.

Meanwhile, Hamilton led the race ahead of his championship rival - Sebastian Vettel. The race's first safety car deployment took place on lap 13, when Daniil Kvyat's Toro Rosso suffered a complete electrical breakdown. As soon as the safety car was removed, the two Force India cars of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez made contact that resulted in significant damage to the pink panthers, spewing debris around the Baku street circuit.

The safety car was again deployed to clear this debris on lap 16 and stayed out till lap 21. Race leader - Lewis Hamilton kept complaining that the safety car was driving dangerously slow. In order to slow the pack of drivers behind him, Hamilton exited the turn 16 on lap 20 at a visibly slow speed. However, Vettel, who was just behind the Mercedes, couldn't react in time and thus hit him in the rear. The Ferrari driver, in his fury, then came alongside Hamilton's Mercedes and steered into his car to express his disapproval about the Briton's slow corner exit. This later earned Vettel a 10-second stop and go penalty. The collision resulted in some damage on the Ferrari's wing and thus more debris on the track.

After 5 laps under the safety car, the race was red flagged to give marshals enough time to get the track ready for racing. When the race restarted after 23 minutes, Hamilton was followed by Vettel and the two Williams of Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll. Ricciardo had earlier slipped to the 17th position after he had to pit to get some debris cleared from his brakes. However, he managed to get to the 5th position, owing to the collisions in the leading pack. He then pulled off a great move by going on the inside of both the Williams and thus took third. Massa soon retired into the pits due to a broken damper.

Mercedes then realized that the headrest of Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes was not fixed properly during the red flag stoppage. He was thus forced to come into the pits to get it fixed. Meanwhile, Vettel too was forced to take his stop and go penalty, though he managed to come out of the pits just a few meters ahead of Hamilton. Meanwhile Ricciardo led the race and crossed the finish line ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Lance Stroll. Hamilton and Vettel eventually finished the race on the fourth and fifth place, with Vettel expanding his championship lead by a couple of points.

Esteban Ocon of Force India crossed the line in sixth position, followed by Haas' Kevin Magnussen and Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz. McLaren's Fernando Alonso finally managed to earn his first points of the season by finishing ninth as his Honda engine survived the 51-lap long race. Sauber's Pascal Wehrlein completed the top 10 finishers list.

The Formula 1 paddock now moves to Austria in two weeks' time. The current World Drivers' Championship standings are:

1. Sebastian Vettel - 153

2. Lewis Hamilton - 139

3. Valtteri Bottas - 111

 
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