Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton wins Formula One's Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, of Britain, celebrates with his team after winning the Azerbaijan Formula One Grand Prix, at the city circuit, in Baku, Azerbaijan, Sunday, April 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Updated 29 April 2018
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Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton wins Formula One's Azerbaijan Grand Prix

  • Crash between two Red Bulls changes the race
  • Hamilton 'emotional' to win and take championship lead

BAKU, Azerbaijan: Lewis Hamilton won an incident-packed Azerbaijan Grand Prix Sunday to take over the championship lead.
Sebastian Vettel led for much of the race, but was stuck in second behind Hamilton's Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas when a crash between the two Red Bulls brought out the safety car.
On the restart, Vettel lunged for the lead but could not keep his car on the racing line at the exit of the next corner and instead lost places. Soon afterward, Bottas' right-rear tire picked up a puncture, ending his race and elevating Hamilton to first.
"Really quite an emotional race to be honest," Hamilton said. "Valtteri did such an exceptional job today and really deserved to have the win."
Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen claimed second place after having dropped to 14th following an early collision. Sergio Perez held off Vettel for third to claim Force India's first podium since 2016.
The two Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo battled all race for fourth place. After several dramatic near-misses, they collided on lap 40 when Ricciardo ran into the back of Verstappen under braking at the first corner, sending them both off the track.
Bottas had been left in the lead when first Hamilton, then Vettel, stopped for fresh tires. He would have had to stop soon but for the Red Bull crash, which allowed Bottas to pit and keep the lead.
Romain Grosjean crashed under the safety car on lap 42, sliding into the wall while weaving in an attempt to heat up his tires. That delayed the restart, and when it came Vettel charged down the inside of Bottas but couldn't slow enough to make the corner and went onto a runoff area.
After a start in cool, windy conditions, the safety car was out almost immediately on lap 1 as several cars collided in the middle of the pack.
Sergei Sirotkin ran into the back of Perez, causing contact between several other cars. That in turn left Sirotkin out of the race and Fernando Alonso limping back to the pits with two punctures.
The drama continued at the next turn, where Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen's aggressive lunge at Force India's Esteban Ocon plunged Ocon into the wall and out of the race. Raikkonen needed a new nose and dropped to 14th.
Renault's Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg briefly stormed past both Red Bulls into fourth and fifth, but Sainz lost his spot when he pitted, while Hulkenberg's race ended with a slide into the wall on lap 11.


Blue Point focused on Al-Quoz glory after magical run at Meydan

Updated 15 February 2019
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Blue Point focused on Al-Quoz glory after magical run at Meydan

  • Star sprinter proves class with easy G2 win in Dubai.
  • Charlie Appleby hopeful over Al-Quoz Sprint chances.

LONDON: Star sprinter Blue Point is on course for glory in the much-anticipated Al-Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup night. That is the message from Godolphin after a brilliant victory in the G2 Meydan Sprint on Thursday.
The Dubai-based stable have long held high hopes for the Shamardal horse and the five-year-old’s win confirmed that they have something special on their hands.
Blue Point took up the running from Faatinah with more than two furlongs to race and readily opened up daylight over his rivals approaching the final furlong, quickly going clear.
For Charlie Appleby the performance only went to prove that Blue Point has it in him to steal the show on Dubai World Cup night in March.
“If he brought his class, he was going to be good enough to win, but we had left a bit on him because the G1 Al-Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup night is our target,” the Godolphin trainer said.
“No disrespect to this race, and we were pleased to win it, but it was the right stepping stone onto the Al-Quoz.
“I was pleased to see him in the paddock, more so than a couple of days ago when it looked like he had a couple of pounds left on him. He had tightened up a bit.
“We were always confident that he was going to come forward for whatever he did. He is a five-year-old now and a professional — getting better with racing. He came alive two furlongs down and it was only a matter of William asking him to pick up and do a bit of work.”
The “Boys in Blue” always place a lot of focus on the World Cup night and a second win in the Al-Quoz sprint — Appleby saddled Jungle Cat to victory last year — is one of the aims for the famous race meeting in March.
“I am very pleased and, all being well, he should step forward for it and all roads will now lead to the Al-Quoz Sprint,” Appleby said.
“I feel that he is not overly exposed as a sprinter — we looked after him as a two-year-old and a three-year-old, while he wasn’t over-raced last year so he is entitled still to be learning.”
Added to the optimism surrounding Blue Point is the fact that William Buick feels he is coming to form at just the right time.
“It was a nice comeback opportunity for Blue Point and he did it very comfortably, doing everything right. It was lovely to see him come back like that,” the jockey said. “He has probably matured a little bit compared to 12 months ago and the biggest difference this year is that he is a G1 winner this time. He had proved himself and feels like a very confident horse — there is no question that he is a top sprinter.”
Meanwhile, Godolphin’s star G1 performers Hartnell, Best Of Days and Alizee have been entered for the world’s richest mile race, the $5 million All-Star Mile to be run at Flemington on March 16.
Head trainer James Cummings confirmed that all three horses will seek a place in the famous race.
“We think it’s great the way in which it really engages with not only the racing audience, but potentially reaching out beyond just that and bringing in a wider audience from not only Australia, but from around the world,” Cummings said. “We’re really excited to be a part of the richest mile race anywhere in the world.”