Azerbaijan F1 Grand Prix 2018 Results: Lewis Hamilton Wins Race in Final Laps

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistApril 29, 2018

BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - APRIL 29: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes WO9 on track during the Azerbaijan Formula One Grand Prix at Baku City Circuit on April 29, 2018 in Baku, Azerbaijan.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton took a shock first victory of the 2018 Formula 1 season on Sunday and topped the standings following a chaotic Azerbaijan Grand Prix, where both Red Bull drivers featured among six retired drivers.

Valtteri Bottas led the race entering the final laps but blew a tyre after hitting some debris on the track and was overtaken by team-mate Hamilton, who went on to beat Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen to first place, with Sergio Perez in third.

There was disaster for Red Bull, meanwhile, as team-mates Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen crashed into one another approaching the end of the race after several close calls throughout the race.

Williams' Sergey Sirotkin and Force India driver Esteban Ocon were forced to retire on the first lap of the race after the former collided with Raikkonen, with McLaren's Fernando Alonso also suffering damage.

Formula 1 confirmed Sunday's top finishers via their official Twitter account:

Racing reporter Tommy Fischer provided a look at the updated driver standings after Sunday's result:

Things got off to a bright enough start for Vettel on pole and Hamilton chasing behind, but it wasn't long before the first tip of the day disrupted the entertainment.

Ocon and Sirotkin's grand prix was brought to an abrupt end after Raikkonen made contact with the Force India driver, as shown by Channel 4 F1:

Ferrari's Finn was more fortunate to escape that clash intact, and the safety car's arrival saw to it that the race's momentum was quickly dealt a blow.

Alonso wasn't as lucky and had to make a premature visit to the pit after his part played in the drama, and the Spaniard clearly wasn't pleased with the race beginning, per BBC 5 live Sport:

Valtteri Bottas offered Hamilton support in his attempt to hound down Vettel, and it was only 12 laps in that Renault's Nico Hulkenberg became the third driver to exit the race, with his tyres locking before he hit a wall.

But slightly further back, it was the head-to-head between Verstappen and Ricciardo that was grabbing most attention. The fact that it featured Red Bull team-mates only made the duel between two of F1's best drivers that much better, per Formula 1:

Carlos Sainz was a surprise contender for the top places early on, as was Force India's Perez, now solely fighting for his team's points haul after Ocon's forced departure.

Three of the leading five drivers were still yet to pit passing the 38-lap mark, and though Ricciardo didn't lose any ground finally making his stop, an unforeseen mishap would still come to wreck his race.

Ricciardo and Verstappen finally pushed their battle too far as the former nudged into the back of his Dutch team-mate coming into Turn 1, per Formula 1:

The focus of the crash conversation centred on who was at fault between the two and how their number of movements during the jostle influenced the crash.

Their removal from the running allowed the likes of Perez and Sainz to continue challenging Formula 1's higher order, while Charles LeClerc contested and eventually managed a career-best Formula 1 finish in sixth.

Romain Grosjean exclaimed over the Haas team radio when he strangely veered into a wall while following the safety car, whose stay on the track was extended as a result of the Frenchman's error, per Sky Sports F1:

There was actually very little racing that actually took place in the final eight laps or so of the race due to the clean-up effort required following Grosjean's crash, removing much of the competitive element.

The action resumed near the climax, and on the 48th lap, minutes from home and a surprise victory in Baku, Bottas' rear-right tyre was shredded by debris and took him out in a late twist:

With Vettel falling back to fourth, Hamilton sprang free at the front and had a routine run-in to the finish, the champion emerging triumphant despite rarely looking like taking control of the lead for much of the race.

The Briton is unlikely to be handed an easier win in Formula 1 for some time but nevertheless sits atop the standings with a maximum points haul.

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