Mercedes have admitted they all-but gave up hope of Lewis Hamilton winning the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, while focusing their energy on getting Valtteri Bottas ahead of Sebastian Vettel in Baku. Despite underperforming across large parts of the weekend, Hamilton did take victory in Baku, moving to the top of the drivers' standings at the same time.
Bottas' luck appeared to be in when Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen's crash brought out a safety car which allowed him to pit for fresh tyres and remain ahead of Vettel, who had dominated the grand prix for its entirety beforehand.
After Vettel skated off-track while trying to overtake Bottas at the restart, the Finn's hopes then blew up as he ran through debris, shredding his rear-right tyre.
It left Hamilton largely unchallenged to waltz to his 63rd grand prix victory - Mercedes' first of the 2018 season after a record drought in the hybrid era.
Silver Arrows chief race engineer Andrew Shovlin has revealed that the team had taken their eyes off Hamilton as a potential race winner late in the race, making his triumph all the more surprising.
"If there hadn't been a safety car, we'd have come in with Valtteri and taken the ultrasoft about 10 laps from the end of the race," Shovlin said in a team debrief.
GPFans is a multi-platform, multi-language brand dedicated to Formula One coverage. We bring you all the ins and outs of the sport, 24/7, everything from up-to-the-minute news and features to the latest viral stories and clips.
We believe that a new generation of exciting, outspoken drivers will make F1 more popular than ever before, and we want to give our users access to as much of their heroes as possible, on and off the track. From Lewis Hamilton to Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo to Sebastian Vettel, we provide in-depth analysis of every every Grand Prix in the season, from Australia to Abu Dhabi.
With Formula One under the new ownership of Liberty Media, how the sport is being covered is evolving, and GPFans will look to be at the heart of this progression into new media, as one of the fastest-growing sites covering the king of motorsports.