RACE REPORT: 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix (Including Interviews)
Location: Baku, Azerbaijan
Circuit: Baku City Circuit
Race: 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
What a race and what a result!
There was plenty of action, battles and surprises throughout the race and here you can see a brief recap along with driver reaction, including interviews from race-winner, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen, Valtteri Bottas and Fernando Alonso to name a few.
The weather in Baku was as expected – windy, catching a few of the drivers out, including Kimi Raikkonen on his formation lap as he left the pit-lane to make his way to the grid before the start of the race.
With immediate battles throughout the grid – the main two which stood out were the Red Bull Racing boys, battling in different corners, respecting each other – yet pushing to the limit.
Fernando Alonso suffered damage to his car in the early part of the race however managed to keep himself in the race, working his way through the grid and finishing in a respectable P7 considering the damage to his car. His team-mate however, didn’t have the best of luck but wasn’t too far behind with both cars within the points.
After a safety car bringing everyone together following the accident between the two Red Bull Racing boys, Romain Grosjean hit the wall (under the Safety Car) in what can only be described as an extremely silly move ending his race. The Mercedes team took advantage of the safety car, bringing Valtteri Bottas into the pits who came back out onto the track – in the lead!
Managing the restart, it all looked good for Valtteri – even making his way past Vettel who locked up however his tyre punctured – ending his race and allowing his team-mate, Lewis Hamilton to claim P1.
In another surprising turn of events, Raikkonen made his way up into P2 with Perez claiming P3.
Here’s what the drivers have to say.
MERCEDES – RACE REPORT: 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix (Including Interviews)
Lewis Hamilton – 1st
Lewis Hamilton: “I have very mixed emotions today. Valtteri deserved the win, he did an exceptional job and had a faultless drive. This is such a crazy and exciting race and I never gave up. I was constantly pushing but it was a real struggle.”
“I feel incredibly grateful to come out with the win – you have to take the ups with the downs and I can’t complain that I won. I will take it and hopefully learn from today but Valtteri was very, very unfortunate. A one-two would have been a great result for the team.”
“I would never have got by him in the remaining laps if he hadn’t had his tyre blow – it looks like Ferrari still have the better car, they outperformed most of us throughout the weekend. We were able to just hold on to them during the race.”
“We have a lot of work to do but we are in the mix and it’s going to be very close – we have to keep our heads down and keep working.”
Valtteri Bottas – DNF
Valtteri Bottas: “I’m absolutely heartbroken. It hurts a lot but this is racing and some days are good and some days are bad – very bad. A small piece of debris destroyed my entire weekend and we had a good race until he puncture.”
“The car felt really good all weekend and we were fast – I didn’t see the debris and I couldn’t feel it until the tyre blew – it was really close the last couple of races so it’s good that our team won today but I’m obviously very disappointed and I’ll be trying again in two weeks.”
Toto Wolff: “This was just a brutal race and probably exactly the kind of Grand Prix that fans want to see with twists and turns at every point. In the garage – it was a real rollercoaster of emotions for the whole team and I am really pleased to see us get our first win with the season with Lewis but equally, incredibly disappointed for Valtteri who drove a perfect race.”
RED BULL RACING – RACE REPORT: 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix (Including Interviews)
DANIEL RICCIARDO – DNF
Daniel Ricciardo: “For sure it was a chaotic race and I guess we caused most of that. I have watched a few replays and the only thing we can both say is sorry to the Team.”
“This is the last thing we wanted. We want to be able to race and I’m thankful that the Team let us race. We tried to keep it clean and give each other room but we were racing hard and in the end it cost us.”
“I’m not going to talk about the incident but this was the worst case scenario and everyone is pretty heartbroken. I will personally apologise to the Team and once again I’m just sorry we are all in this situation when everyone has worked so hard to give us such a good car.”
MAX VERSTAPPEN – DNF
Max Verstappen: “Today was just really disappointing for the Team and we lost many points unnecessarily. I don’t think we need to speak about fault because at the end of the day we are racing for a team and representing a lot of people, so when this happens it is not good for both of us.”
“The tow was very strong and our speed was very similar, so we were then always very close to each other. Before the accident it was hard racing but fair I think and we gave each other space, we had a little brush with the wheels but I think in racing that can happen, but what happened afterwards is not good.”
“We will learn from this and have to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I don’t think not letting us race anymore is the way forward but of course we will talk this over as a team and learn from it.”
“We are always very fair to each other and have spoken immediately about this. For now, I’m just sorry and want to apologise to the people we represent here and at the factory as well.”
CHRISTIAN HORNER – Team Principal: “It was a really frustrating race for the Team today. After some hard racing between the two drivers throughout the Grand Prix, unfortunately, contact was made after the pitstop resulting in the retirement of both cars.”
“Obviously, for the Team it is hugely disappointing. We allow our drivers to race wheel-to-wheel, which they have done to great effect during the last two years.”
“Unfortunately, today has happened and there is no blame apportioned to either side. It is hugely frustrating for the Team and the drivers have apologised. The most important thing is to learn from today and ensure that we avoid a repeat situation.”
MCLAREN – RACE REPORT: 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix (Including Interviews)
Fernando Alonso – 12th
Fernando Alonso: “Today’s race was very complicated – right from the very first lap. The first lap in the midfield is the same old story; people preferring to crash into other cars rather than lifting off. But it’s also up to us to qualify further towards the front, where it’s usually a little bit cleaner.”
“On that opening lap, my car was heavily damaged – I had two punctures, with one flat tyre damaging the floor. I also had a damaged front and rear wing.”
“I really thought that would be the end of my race, but after the team fitted a new front wing and fresh tyres, I went back out, fought all race long, and actually found the car to be quite competitive.”
“We were able to overtake a Sauber and a Renault thanks to the Safety Car, which enabled us to recover a couple of positions. It was one of the best races in years for us, I reckon.”
Stoffel Vandoorne – 9th
Stoffel Vandoorne: “What a mad afternoon! This race is usually a bit crazy, and we saw that again today – by mid-race, I think I was last, and that there was zero chance of making something work.”
“Then the Safety Car came out: I made a good call at the end to put some hot rubber on when everyone else seemed to be struggling with tyre warm-up. Being at the back at that point wasn’t necessarily a bad thing – at the restart, I felt really confident, managed to overtake a few cars, and got myself back in the points.”
“We still lack straight-line speed, which meant it was a struggle to attack or defend in the race, so there’s still some work to do there. Nevertheless, I’m pleased that we got some more points this weekend.”
There’s more on the way – including the driver press conference following the race.