F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2017: Daniel Ricciardo celebrates podium finish with Lance Stroll and Valtteri Bottas
Breathtaking Baku enchanted and enthralled with Daniel Riccardo crowned king of the castle in what was the most exciting, nail-biting race of the season thus far
Blending new world architecture from continental Europe with the old world charm of the Middle East, Baku a.k.a, the ‘wind pounded city’ dazzled with some nail-biting moments and wheel-to-wheel action in the eighth round of the F1 calendar. The battle between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel finally boiled over when Vettel’s temper got the better of him. Vettel who rammed into the back of the Mercedes after Hamilton appeared to slow down slightly behind the safety car then pulled alongside the race leader, gesticulated wildly from his cockpit and in a moment of aggression swerved into the side of Hamilton’s Silver Arrow. The German was very lucky to escape with minor slap on the wrist in the form of a ten-second penalty for dangerous driving.
Meanwhile, Valtteri Bottas who started in third place and ended up in seventeenth after a collision at the first corner pulled off a stellar effort of ‘sisu’ to end up back in third place at the end of the race. The most jubilant celebration of the day had to be that of Lance Stroll. The Canadian who steered clear of all throughout the incident-packed race finished in second place, his highest ranking finish ever. Daniel Ricciardo, who has been on the podium consecutively over the last four races, won the Baku Grand Prix and gladly induced the nineteen-year-old Stroll, in the exclusive ‘shoey’ club.
The city that seamlessly whisked old and new world charm into the backdrop of the Grand Prix looked beautiful in the day but really came alive at night with an awe-inspiring landscape. From the fabled old city walls to the Flame Towers the city boasted a dazzling skyline with light shows on almost every tower. A great city needed great post-race parties and Baku certainly had some memorable ones. The JW Marriott, with its prime trackside location, hosted several F1 luminaries each night at its restaurants. Racing fans really enjoyed the parties at the two Johnnie Walker tents set-up exclusively for the Grand Prix.
The Fairmont hotel, occupying one of the three magnificent flame towers, hosted a somewhat of the different themed party over the three day weekend. They opted to feature an Asian DJ, a lingerie fashion show and a Moët Chandon themed bar with an eclectic mix of local and regional socialites. With a free flow of sliders, kebabs and cocktails, the event that overlooked the night sky provided a Friday evening delight unlike any other. Then there was the crème-de-la-crème of parties as Billionaire, a club and concept owned by the legendary Flavio Briatore, staged what was undoubtedly the most magnificent, high-brow party of the weekend. Briatore who is widely regarded for his successful stint as the Renault team principal and as Fernando Alonso’s manager helmed the race weekend party personally. His presence clearly paid dividends with the glitziest party of the weekend boasting celebrities Mariah Carey and the Black Eyed Peas. The crowd comprising racing illuminati, local and regional VIP’s partied the night away to the perfectly choreographed beats of DJ Andrea, a celebrity who has debuted at many of the world’s top nightclubs including Twiga in Monaco, Hyde Club in Mexico City and the Armani Cafe in Hong Kong.
Entertaining guests were the American group the Black Eyed Peas and songstress Mariah Carey, on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. The sparkly diva belting out several of her greatest hits such as ‘Hero’, ‘We Belong Together’ and ‘Obsessed’ as the sky was illuminated by a mesmerising firework display. With no better way to cap off the unforgettable race, there is no doubt that there is only one way forward for Baku — Up!