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F1 Title battle turns nasty: Hamilton and Vettel collide as Daniel Ricciardo wins Azerbaijan GP

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F1 Title battle turns nasty: Hamilton and Vettel collide as Daniel Ricciardo wins Azerbaijan GP
Jun 25, 2017, 5:07 PM

After lots of back slapping and respect in the early rounds between the title contenders, things turned nasty in Baku as Sebastian Vettel claimed L...

After lots of back slapping and respect in the early rounds between the title contenders, things turned nasty in Baku as Sebastian Vettel claimed Lewis Hamilton "brake tested' him behind the Safety Car, leading to contact.

But the real controversy was Vettel's petulant response, where he drove alongside and banged wheels with the Mercedes driver.

The FIA stewards didn't like it and hit the Ferrari driver with a 10 second stop/go penalty, which equates to almost 30 seconds of race time.

"It definitely sets a precedent, I think, within F1," said Hamilton afterwards. "And it also does for all the young kids that are watching us drive and conduct ourselves. And they've seen today how a four-time champion behaves.

"Driving alongside and deliberately driving into another driver and getting away pretty much scot-free as he still came fourth, I think that's a disgrace. I think he disgraced himself today."

Meanwhile Daniel Ricciardo won a spectacular, caution-filled Azerbaijan Grand Prix as Hamilton had to make an unscheduled pit stop to replace a loose headrest.

Daniel Ricciardo

It was a happy podium as Lance Stroll took his first career podium finish in third place, becoming the second 18 year old F1 driver to reach the F1 podium after Max Verstappen, while Valtteri Bottas pipped Stroll and finished second from a lap down, having recovered from an opening lap crash with Kimi Raikkonen.

The Mercedes driver overtook Stroll on the final lap, on the home straight with just a tenth of a second between them on the leaderboard, but Stroll still stood on the podium ahead of Vettel in fourth and Hamilton, fifth and just 6.188s covered the gap between Ricciardo and Hamilton.

Ricciardo started 10th having crashed in the final qualifying segment on Saturday, and was at the rear on lap 10 with debris clogging the Red Bull's brake vents from the opening lap collision between Bottas and Raikkonen.

The Australian's team-mate Max Verstappen retired with a mechanical failure on lap 13 to cap his fourth failure to finish in six races.

The eventual Red Bull winner jumped to first having recovered to fifth by lap 13, when three Safety Car outings slowed the pack. Ricciardo then slid into third on the final Safety Car restart before a sudden red flag paused the race.

On lap 32, both Hamilton and Vettel were sent to the pits and Ricciardo was sent to the lead with Stroll behind. Vettel rejoined ahead of Hamilton, both mid-pack. Though Hamilton closed in on the final lap, Vettel kept him at bay by 0.212s as the chequered flag flew.

Hamilton was forced to stop as his cockpit protection was coming loose at high speed, possibly as a result of being incorrectly fitted after the red flag stoppage, when Hamilton got out of the car. Meanwhile Vettel was given a 10-second penalty for what the stewards described as 'potentially dangerous" driving; the latter resulting from a lap 20 fracas under caution.

"A 10 second penalty's not enough for behaviour like that. You know that, Charlie [Whiting],” said Hamilton back to race control. Vettel's lead has now grown to 14 points in the drivers' championship. He

Baku F1 2017

Safety Car chaos

The frenzied, almost farcical period from laps 12 to 22 threw the running order into disarray and set-up Ricciardo's unprecedented victory as the Safety Car led the field three times.

The first Safety Car outing was triggered as Daniil Kvyat stopped on track with mechanical issues on lap 12. The next two came on laps 16 and 17 as debris was scattered across the Baku surface from numerous collisions.

On the second restart, on lap 16, Hamilton looked to pull away from Vettel behind him but the Safety Car rejoined instantly as debris flew off Raikkonen's Ferrari.

The following restart took Raikkonen and Sergio Perez to the rear and eventually led the two to retire, while both Williams propelled themselves up to third and fourth before the resulting red flag two laps later – only Stroll managed to finish as Massa later retired.

Pivotally, it was also during the final effort to resume when Vettel slammed his Ferrari into Hamilton's diffuser, then drove alongside and seemingly bumped his car into the Mercedes in anger while gesturing towards the leader for an eventual 10-second penalty which cost him a victory.

Behind the squabbling duo, Massa and rookie Lance Stroll muscled into third and fourth, respectively, while Esteban Ocon and Perez crashed into each other and the two Force Indias fell back with Raikkonen.

Shrapnel pelted Raikkonen's Ferrari from every angle and the Finn's three-tyred Ferrari was nursed back to the pits just before a red flag was deemed necessary to facilitate the marshals' clean-up.

During the extended pause, Perez and Raikkonen were given swift repairs and all were back on super-softs as the race resumed on lap 24.

Baku F1 2017

But, Perez eventually retired due to a broken seat from his earlier collision while Raikkonen's Ferrari turned out to have terminal water pressure problems which stopped him late on.

The red flag period ended with Hamilton leading, his head and neck restraint loose at this point, ahead of Vettel. However, both were left with costly scars from the earlier Safety Car restart.

Massa, who was briefly in third, retired shortly after the red flag with a broken damper, and Stroll moved up to second place until the last lap loss to Bottas. He took third with a composed performance, a second-consecutive points-finish and his first podium of the season.

Vettel and Hamilton shoved their way through the middle of the pack to finish fourth and fifth respectively, ahead of a defenceless Ocon who had also driven determinedly as he shrugged off the damage from his earlier crash, with Perez, to finished sixth.

Bottas recovered from a ruinous opening lap as he shoved his Mercedes' nose into the overtaking Raikkonen at Turn 2, resulting in a puncture, crumpled nose-cone and barge-boards, and of course, an early pitstop for the Mercedes.

But, the Finn was able to avoid the melees in the Safety Car restarts and calmly worked his way up to second, with the last-gasp overtake on Stroll almost heart-breaking for the Canadian teenager.

Kevin Magnussen

Haas' Kevin Magnussen picked up valuable points with a seventh place finish, having controlled himself during the chaos, though he didn't have the pace to defend against the Ferraris, Mercedes and sole Force India ahead.

Toro Rosso's Kvyat retired but his team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr finished eighth, ahead of Fernando Alonso whose lack of power and 40-place grid-penalty did little to put him off a solid performance for McLaren's first points of the season.

The final points-finisher was Pascal Wehrlein in 10th, ahead of team-mate Marcus Ericsson. Stoffel Vandoorne finished in 12th - neither his McLaren's reliability nor 30-places of grid-penalties an issue. Romain Grosjean suffered continued braking issues in 13th, last of those who made it to the finish line.

Jolyon Palmer retired on lap nine to cap a miserable weekend for the under-pressure Renault driver – an engine bay fire in FP3 ruled him out of qualifying and smoke trickled out of the car again on Sunday.

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