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Baku, 29 April, 2018

cloudy/windy and dry
16-17°C air
23-28°C track

The safety car spoilt it all ... At the flag Kimi is second with Seb fourth
Scuderia Ferrari dominated this whole weekend right up to a few laps before the end and leaves Baku with second and fourth places for Kimi and Seb respectively. The Azerbaijan Grand Prix turned out to be a totally unpredictable race, with the Safety Car closing down the gaps and robbing the leader Vettel of victory, but handing Kimi a lifeline after he had started further back. After four rounds, Scuderia Ferrari leads the Constructorsí championship by four points, while Sebastian is second in the Driversí classification, four points off Hamilton.

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On the grid, the front runners were all on Supersofts, with the exception of Raikkonen who was using Ultrasofts. Seb maintained his pole advantage at the start, while Kimi was fighting with Ocon and right from the start, the debris was flying. Esteban ended up in the barrier and Kimi needed to pit for a set of Soft tyres and a front wing, as the Safety Car made its first appearance. The number 7 Ferrari re-emerged in 12thplace as five laps went by before the race resumed. Seb had got his tyres up to a good temperature and thus defied Bakuís slipstreaming laws. He then pulled away while Kimi began overtaking other cars so that he was 10thon lap 9. He then passed Stroll as the tyre changes began and out in front, Seb set another fastest lap. Kimi then got by Leclerc, who was having a great race in the Alfa-Sauber.

The two leaders were running at the same pace, but going into the first corner on lap 22, Hamilton locked his wheels and ruined his tyres, so that he had to pit. The leading SF71H stayed out and continued to push. Sebastianís radar was picking up information on what was happening with the other cars. He pitted at the end of lap 30 to take on Softs, as planned. It took a few laps for the harder compound to settle down, as Bottas stayed out while Kimi was looking to go the distance.

But then it all happened on lap 40, as the two Red Bulls collided on the straight, which brought out the Safety Car, leading Ferrari to opt for a double pit stop. Seb and Kimi came in close formation. The Safety Car led the pack through the pit lane with Bottas in front on used Ultrasofts, followed by Seb, Hamilton and Kimi on new Ultrasofts. Ten laps to go and everything was up for grabs again, as Grosjean, in the process of warming his tyres, hit the wall, so the safety car period was extended.

There would be just a four lap sprint to the flag and the four leaders fanned out, Seb tried to attack but overshot the corner and flat spotted his tyres, running behind Kimi with the Mercedes duo out in front. But that wasnít the end of the excitement as Bottas got a right rear puncture off some debris, while Perez passed Seb and thatís how it ended.

Lewis Hamilton
I have very mixed emotions today. Valtteri deserved to 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 canít 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 not have got by him in the remaining laps if he hadnít had his tyre blow. It looks like Ferrari still has the better car, they outperformed us most of the weekend. We were able to just hold on to them during the race. We definitely have some work to do, but we are in the mix and itís going to be very close. We have to keep our heads down and keep working.

Valtteri Bottas
Iím absolutely heartbroken. It hurts a lot. But this is racing; some days are good, some days are bad Ė and some days are very bad. A small piece of debris destroyed my entire weekend. We had a good race until the puncture. The car felt really good and we were fast. I thought I had everything under control on the Safety Car restart, but then suddenly my tyre exploded. I didnít see the debris and I couldnít feel it until the tyre blew. It was really close the last couple of races, so itís good that our team won today, but Iím obviously still very disappointed. Iíll try again in two weeks.

Toto Wolff
That 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 of the season with Lewis but equally incredibly disappointed for Valtteri who drove a perfect race. We went from looking like scoring a solid double podium, to suddenly having the possibility of a one-two before it was snatched away from us with Valtteriís puncture, to still winning the race. For Lewis, I guess that his luck has come full circle after the misfortune earlier in the season, and itís probably fair to look at today as him getting back the win he lost in Melbourne. The race began pretty quietly, with clean starts for our guys and then everything unfolding steadily. Lewis got caught out with a gust of wind under braking, flat spotting his first set of tyres. This forced him to stop on lap 22 and take the Soft compound to the finish. Meanwhile, Valtteri stayed out and was just getting faster and faster; we stayed on track because he was building the gap to Vettel, and perhaps had a chance for the win with a late charge on UltraSoft, when the Safety Car came out for the Red Bull accident. We pitted both cars and, after Sebastianís mistake on the restart, we were set for the one-two finish when Valtteri hit a piece of debris that was on the track. Clearly that perfect result wasnít meant to be today in such an unpredictable race. So itís a bittersweet feeling: fantastic to get the win on the board and to be leading the driversí championship, but also disappointed because the quickest guy DNFíd with a puncture Ė and because we know there is still work ahead of us to improve the pace of the car in what will be a close three-way fight for the rest of the season.

James Allison
After three races where we had opportunities to win that we did not take, itís great to have victory come our way this afternoon in Baku. I am as pleased for Lewis as I am sad for Valtteri after the race. Both drivers delivered fine performances but it was a cruel blow to have the prospect of a one-two finish dangled in front of us and then whisked away at the last when Valtteri drove over some debris following the Safety Car period. Thatís two races running where he has deserved a much better outcome and I am confident it will come for him in the future. For Lewis, this was perhaps not the kind of swashbuckling victory he relishes but it nonetheless represents a measure of compensation for some of his misfortune in earlier races this season. On the operational side, the entire team performed well to recover from a difficult Friday and secure solid grid positions which were the foundations for todayís races. We delivered quick pit stops and excellent strategy decisions, all of which keep us in the game as we work to improve the car, in what is shaping up to be a dramatic and very memorable season.

Nico Hülkenberg
ďItís wild and just crazy here as itís so tight. We started well but I just lost the rear end at the end of turn four and that was my race done really. I had some rear locking going into that corner and the wind was difficult and it didnít take much to throw me off. Itís unfortunate but thatís how it is sometimes. Letís look forward to Spain.Ē

Carlos Sainz
ďItís a very strong result for the team. Iím very happy and it was a really fun race, as always in Baku. It was crazy out there as the grip was difficult today. The first stint was very strong and I was able to overtake both Red Bulls on track. Then, the soft tyre was trickier for us and in the end we had to battle for that fifth place. It is positive for the team to go into Europe in a strong place in the Championship. I need to keep working hard with my engineers to keep building the car to my liking and to keep the points coming. Next stop is Spain and I really look forward to it.Ē

Marcus Ericsson
ďIt was a difficult race for me. I was involved in an incident at the beginning of the race, and picked up some damage to the car. I was struggling to keep everything together after that, and I gave everything to catch up with my direct competitors. In the end, it was good to manage to finish in P11. As a team, we have scored points for the second time this season, which is very motivating, and our potential is becoming more clear with every weekend. We must keep up the good work now. I look forward to the next race weekend in Barcelona.Ē

Charles Leclerc
ďIt was an amazing race today Ė I am very happy with my result. It was definitely eventful, with many incidents on track making it especially challenging and fun to drive. I felt comfortable in the car, and did my best to gradually advance to the front of the midfield through the race. It is an incredible feeling to score points for the first time in Formula 1. As a team, we can see our potential, and know what our strengths are. I am very pleased, and look forward to continuing on this positive path.Ē

Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal
ďWe are very pleased with the job that we have done this whole weekend starting from Friday and then a good qualifying session. Charles scored his first points in Formula 1 today, finishing in P6. He had a strong pace and did a consistent job. It was a huge step for him to make and he can be proud of what he has achieved. Marcus put up a good fight. He was involved in an incident at the beginning of the race, which set him back 2 and made it tough for him, however, he managed to recover and catch up with the midfield. He finally finished in P11 and was very close to scoring points. It is a great achievement for the team, not only for the points but also for the pace shown especially in the first stint. Now we have to stay focused in order to continue this good work.Ē

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