Valtteri Bottas secured yet another Mercedes one-two as the Finn won the Azerbaijan Grand Prix
Valtteri Bottas bounced back from his Baku heartbreak last season to win this year’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix ahead of Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
The Silver Arrows driver was leading last year’s race at the venue when a blown tyre three laps from the end denied him an almost certain win and handed victory to Hamilton.
The Finn’s hopes of winning the 2019 showdown were boosted after he produced an emphatic performance in qualifying on Saturday to put his car on pole position.
And it was a flawless performance on Sunday to seal his second victory of the season, and move back to the top of the title standings ahead of his partner.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel completed the podium, finishing ahead pf Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, while the sister Prancing Horse of Charles Leclerc came home fifth.
Here are 5 talking points from the Baku race…
1. Redemption for Bottas
Bottas produced a blistering lap on Saturday, claiming the spoils in qualifying with his final throw of the dice to beat Hamilton.
The Finn took his second pole in as many races with the sun setting in Azerbaijan’s capital following two crashes which delayed the running by almost an hour.
And he kept his cool on Sunday, holding firm to avoid clashing into team-mate Hamilton at the start and then romping to victory.
You can’t deny he doesn’t deserve it either, after last year’s unfortunate puncture cruelly denied him a victory.
2. A Mercedes title challenge
Ferrari were tipped to end Mercedes’ five-year title dominance in F1 at the beginning of this season, but that hasn’t materialised yet.
Vettel has endured a miserable start to this season, and the German doesn’t look like he’ll add to his four world titles any time soon.
But while we aren’t being treated to a two-team championship tussle, Bottas is certainly taking the challenge to reigning world champion Hamilton this year.
The Finn failed to win at all last year, but is already level on two victories with the Brit – and it could well turn out to be an enthralling battle between the pair.
3. Leclerc bounces back
Leclerc scuppered his chances of a maiden F1 victory by crashing out of qualifying in Azerbaijan on Saturday
The Ferrari junior headed into Saturday’s contest for pole on the twisty streets of Baku as the commanding favourite after he dominated practice.
But his hopes ended dramatically in the barriers, after an uncharacteristic error led to him crashing out at the castle section of the tricky circuit.
However the youngster produced an impressive performance on Sunday to fight his way through the field and secure a respectable fifth place.
4. Bonkers Baku
This Baku City Circuit is quickly becoming a favourite on the F1 calendar for drivers and fans alike.
In 2017 we saw Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo secured a emphatic victory, storming through the field from 10th to stun his rivals.
Then at last year’s showdown, Hamilton won another chaotic race which saw the two Red Bulls crash into each other.
This year has been no different, with plenty of drama all weekend keeping us on the edge of our seats. Don’t change, Baku.
5. Unforeseen pit-lane starters
It’s not often you see three cars starting from the pit-lane, but that’s what we got on Sunday afternoon.
Kimi Raikkonen joined Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly and Williams’ Robert Kubica at the very back after stewards struck off the Finn’s qualifying results.
Stewards said Raikkonen’s front wing had deflected more than the five millimetres allowed when load-tested. The test is to stop teams from gaining an aerodynamic advantage from flexible parts.
Gasly was ordered to start from the pitlane after failing to stop to have his car weighed at the end of Friday’s second practice.
Williams opted to start Kubica from the pitlane so they could make further set-up changes after the Pole crashed heavily in the first phase of Saturday’s qualifying after setting a time that left him at the back of the grid.