Not even the best sports betting expert could have predicted the result of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, and it’s just rightful that we describe it as by far the most exciting and chaotic race of the season.
A top three of Daniel Ricciardo, Valtteri Bottas and Lance Stroll just shows how surprising the race turned out, though it doesn’t give a clear picture of the breathtaking scenes that ensued.
It was indeed a day of non-stop online betting drama at the Baku City Circuit, featuring two inter-team collisions for Sauber and Force India, three safety-car periods and a red-flag race stoppage.
Ricciardo benefitted the most from the situation as he took the chequered flag despite starting 10th on the grid and even falling way behind to 17th due to brake issues earlier in the race.
Lewis Hamilton, who stormed in the qualifying to take the pole, led for the most part of the opening period. However, a collision with rival Sebastian Vettel threw everything into turmoil.
With the two behind the safety car on Lap 19, just before the restart, Hamilton had a slow exit from Turn 16. Vettel was taken by surprise and hit the Mercedes car at the rear. The German ace then angrily pulled alongside the British driver and made contact with the right wheels of his championship opponent – an act that eventually caused the F1 leader to be punished with a 10-second stop-and-go penalty.
Hamilton retained the lead at the restart anyway before a red flag followed a lap later to clear all the debris of the earlier accidents.
The race restarted for the third time, but Hamilton’s luck ran out as he was forced to pit on Lap 31 due to his incorrectly fitted headrest. Vettel, meanwhile, was given his penalty on the 33rd lap, though he still emerged ahead of Hamilton who dropped to eight due to the uncalled pit stop.
This series of events allowed Ricciardo to stage his comeback. He already recovered from his earlier problems and made it to third thanks to the safety car, and he finally took the lead and cruised to victory after Hamilton and Vettel’s misfortune.
Hamilton ended up in fifth while Vettel managed to extend his lead to 14 points in the standings as he finished fourth.
On the other hand, Bottas and Stroll provided another drama for the podium finish, with the former overtaking the Williams driver just before the finish line. More amazing was the fact that Bottas matched Ricciardo’s comeback as he dropped to last and was a lap down at one point.
The win is Ricciardo’s fifth Grand Prix victory and first since winning the 2016 Malaysian GP. For Stroll, it was his first podium finish as he also became the second youngest F1 driver to do so.
Next up is the Austrian Grand Prix, and with how things went down, expect a more heated battle between the leaders from here on out!
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