Lewis Hamilton proves doubter Bernie Ecclestone wrong as he wins in Azerbaijan

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Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton admitted his good fortune after a freak sequence of crashes, mistakes and punctures handed him a first race win of the season at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Hamilton started the race on the front row of the grid alongside Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and ran in second place for the majority of the race, dropping down to third place after pitting on lap 23.

After four races of the season Lewis Hamilton for the first time topped the individual competition, ahead of Sebastian Vettel by four points.

Red Bull-gate resulted in yet another saftey auto which gave Valtteri Bottas, who had fallen substantially behind Sebastian Vettel, an opportunity to catch the flying Ferrari and steal a march on first.

As luck would have it, a safety vehicle was triggered on Lap 40 when Red Bull Racing teammates Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo collided with each other, allowing Bottas to switch to new ultrasoft tires and maintain his race lead.

Sainz climbed back into fifth thanks to the turmoil ahead of him, claiming Renault's best finish since Vitaly Petrov was fifth in Canada in 2011.

Red Bull Round 4 occurred on lap 35 and finally went the way of Ricciardo as he managed to pass his teammate around the outside at Turn 1. The British driver was struggling for grip however and pitted early and was matched seven laps later by Vettel.

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However, the bigger game changer turned out to be the crash between Red Bull drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.

Verstappen and Ricciardo had already made contact once and went close another time before they eventually collided at turn one of lap 40. "It has been a while since I've been reminded of that lesson my Dad taught me years and years ago", Hamilton told Sky Sports post-race. On lap 38 Ricciardo came in for fresh tires allowing Verstappen to regain the fourth spot in the running order.

And with just four laps of full-tilt racing remaining, Vettel overcooked his attempt to regain the lead from Bottas.

Verstappen's auto was lifted briefly into the air and both battered Red Bulls skated down the escape road into retirement.

Hamilton's early pit stop gave him good warm tyres for the closing stages, even though those final laps were interrupted by the safety auto again. Hamilton and Bottas followed him into Turn 1.

After a start in cool, windy conditions that made it hard to get enough grip, the safety auto was out nearly immediately on lap 1 as several cars collided in the middle of the pack. With Romain Grosjean also crashing a lap later, the safety vehicle turned out to be a lengthy affair over the next four laps. He was late to the podium celebrations because he went to speak with Bottas, who "deserved" the win. Stroll scored the first points for Williams this season as he finished eighth.