Whereas the last Grand Prix in Baku threw up a race of thrills, spills and a surprise winner, this one was very much a return to form for Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes team.
Starting from pole position, and with team-mate Valtteri Bottas alongside him, the two silver cars made a great getaway but Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari managed to nip into second, but as is often the case these days, there was trouble further back.
At turn 3, the Haas of Romain Grosjean spun, and in the process took out Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault and the Toro Rosso of Pierre Gasly, both of which found the rod full of cars.
The safety car was deployed while the debris was cleared.
The order remained the same after the restart, at which point Hamilton began to eke out the following cars. Hamilton clearly had a handle on the race and began setting fastest laps, while the pit stops began in earnest on lap 18 when Vettel stopped, with Mercedes covering him by bringing Bottas in a lap later.
It would be lap 26 before Hamilton saw the need to pit, and he emerged in a lead he would never lose.
Kimi Raikkonen had been running in a decent position before his car gave up on lap 26, which left the Finn out of the race. This was pretty much the only further incident, until the Virtual Safety Car was put into play after the Force India of Esteban Ocon was parked at the side of the track. Vettel took the opportunity to pit for fresh tyres – the rest of the leaders did not.
Fourth for Ferrari
At the flag Hamilton led Bottas home by little more than 20-seconds, with Max Verstappen’s Red Bull third and Vettel fourth in the only Ferrari to finish.
Fight place went to Daniel Riccardo in the second Red Bull, with a very impressive Kevin Magnussen, the Dane on form this year in the Haas, taking sixth for the US team. Carlos Sainz limped his ailing Renault home in seventh position, Fernando Alonso picked up more points for McLaren in eighth, and the final points positions went to Sergio Perez in the Force India, and eye-catching Charles Leclerc for Sauber.