Nico Rosberg has extended his championship lead to 24 points after leading every lap of the race in the first race in Azerbaijan. Sebastian Vettel finished second for Ferrari while Sergio Perez claimed his second podium of the season in third.

Rosberg started the race from pole position and held off a fast-starting Daniel Ricciardo into Turn One, from then on the German quickly built a lead of over a second to escape the threat of DRS and pulled away from the field.

Lewis Hamilton started from 10th position in the other Mercedes having crashed out of qualifying and began his fightback through the field starting, moving himself up into eighth position within the opening few laps.

The world champion then ran into his first set of problems as he reported his brakes were experiencing heavy vibrations which compromised corners with heavy braking zones.

It wouldn’t be the end of Hamilton’s issues as the Briton spent a large portion of the second half of the race playing with his dashboard due to a maximum energy deployment issue.

Hamilton repeatedly radioed his team to request information on how to fix the problem, but to his frustration Mercedes weren’t able to provide the answer due to the radio communication restrictions new for 2016.

The reigning world champion was finally able to get the setting right in the closing stages of the race, although it was too late for Hamilton to improve on his fifth position.

Ferrari had been the best of the rest as Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen spent the majority of the race trying to catch Rosberg in second and third position.

Vettel had moved himself up to second position after streaming passed Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull on the start-finish straight, and received the call to pit on the eighth lap of the race.

Still posting competitive lap times, Vettel denied pitting for the soft tyre and stayed out for 13 more laps while Raikkonen occupied the empty slot to pit on lap 9.

The Finn then ran into trouble three laps later as he crossed the pit entry line on the main straight which earned him a five-second penalty. Since Raikkonen didn’t have to pit again in the race, the penalty was added on to his time post-race.

Vettel pitted for his only stop of the race on lap 21 and rejoined the track behind Raikkonen in third position. Since Vettel had more pace during the race, the team ordered the pair to switch positions on the 28th lap to maximise their opportunity to catch Rosberg, who was at this point 15 seconds ahead in the lead.

Perez was in fourth and starting to catch Raikkonen towards the end of the race, as Raikkonen also started to experience electronic issues that the team was not allowed to give the answer to.

Rather than wait until the race finished to earn third position due to Raikkonen’s impending penalty, Perez passed the Ferrari on the final lap of the race to earn himself his second podium position for the season.

Both Red Bull’s opted for a two stop strategy stopping earlier in the race than most of the other teams. Max Verstappen stopped on the sixth lap to dispose of his super softs for a set of soft compound tyres as Ricciardo followed suit a lap later.

Verstappen lasted 15 laps on the soft tyre when he was called in again to make a change to the medium, which hadn’t seen much of the track since Friday practice.

Ricciardo pitted two laps later for the same strategy as Verstappen and rejoined the track in 13th position behind the Sauber of Felipe Nasr.

The Australian made quick work of Nasr and passed the Brazilian for 12th and then passed both McLaren drivers when Fernando Alonso pitted and Ricciardo got in Jenson Button’s slipstream on the main straight and made his move at Turn One.

After getting stuck behind the Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India in the latter stage of the race, Ricciardo passed the German at Turn One with three laps left to run for seventh position. Verstappen followed his teammate passed Hulkenberg a lap later to finish in eighth.

Button finished just outside the top 10 behind Felipe Massa, while teammate Alonso was forced to retire with seven laps to go.

Image via XPB Images

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Josh Kruse

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