Azerbaijan GP: Winners and Losers

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Things got wild and woolly in Baku — from Alonso limping into the pits on two wheels to Grosjean's safety car brain fade — it was another in a series of "glue-your-eyelids-open" races. This could also be the one that breaks the championship wide open, so without further ado here's our winners and losers...

Winners

  • Lewis Hamilton claimed his first win in seven races, and unexpectedly leads the championship. If Bottas hadn't copped a puncture he'd be just 1 point behind Vettel, with Lewis languishing down in third place in the standings. Hamilton admitted after the race that he didn't deserve the win, but he'll take it all the same, it just remains to be seen whether he needs the motivation and pressure that comes from being an underdog to get his season back on track, or can lead from the front. 
  • Charles Leclerc put in a best in class performance, snatching his first points and crucially 8 points for Sauber (more than they scored in 2016 and 2017), which will hurt Williams who finally opened their account but remain at the bottom of the constructors' table. Having won here in Formula 2 last year, Leclerc becomes the first Monagesque driver to score points in F1 since Louis Chiron in 1950. 
  • Brendon "Big Heart" Hartley opens his account by also scoring his first points in F1. 

Losers

  • Max Verstappen strengthened his case for replacing his racing helmet with a dunce hat with yet another incident resulting from his weaving down the straights and moving multiple times in defence. Verstappen's attitude over the 40 laps he and the Australian were trading blows meant a crash was almost inevitably. Although Ricciardo shares some of the blame, it's Verstappen who has form in this regard, and after China where Helmut Marko personally told him to keep his cool, almost putting his teammate into the wall and then contributing to a crash that took them both out wasn't the best response.
  • Romain Grosjean was achingly close to a podium after following Sergio Perez behind the safety car on better tyres. After initially blaming someone for hitting him from the rear (always awkward) he eventually admitted that he knocked a switch on his steering wheel that threw out the braking balance but ultimately, however you slice it, he binned it behind the safety car and let a bucket of points slip through his fingers.
  • Daniel Ricciardo pulled his trademark switch-back overtaking manoeuvre on Verstappen, and for a few seconds it looked like it was going to work. It's telling that he and Verstappen didn't want to get out of their cars after their clash, both were furious and knew there would be a severe dressing down from the team. Despite having the faster car, and probably deserving of track position, he's degraded his standings in contract negotiations with Red Bull and other teams, a reversal of his almost perfect drive in China.

Have your say

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