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Highlights of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix
Posted on 29 April 2019
Bottas gets his Baku win at last
One year after narrowly missing out on near certain victory at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Valtteri Bottas earned the win the Finn felt he thoroughly deserved. Bottas became the first victorious pole-sitter of 2019 when he took the chequered flag after 51 laps of a race in which his chance at victory was only threatened by teammate Lewis Hamilton. The Mercedes pair battled for the first few corners of the opening lap before Bottas pulled out a 1.8-second lead, losing his place at the head of the pack only during the pit stop phase. On lap 32, Bottas overtook Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc – who had yet to stop – and controlled the race for the final 20 laps.
On the penultimate lap with Hamilton closing in on the leader, Mercedes said to Bottas on the team radio: “Lewis has DRS. Overtake is available.”
Bottas kept his cool and crossed the finish line 1.5 seconds ahead of the second Mercedes.
Ricciardo’s rubbish reversing
After two chaotic races in Baku, and an incident packed Formula Two race, expectations of a street fighting thriller were high. But the 2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix was a fairly staid affair enlivened only by a slapstick collision between Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat on lap 31. While battling for position, both cars entered the runoff area at Turn 3. The two drivers initially avoided a collision, but when Ricciardo was attempting to reverse his car in order to return to the track, the Renault driver backed into his Toro Rosso rival, damaging both cars. The Australian retired immediately, while Kvyat limped on for two more laps before calling it a day. For causing the collision, Ricciardo was issued with a three-place grid penalty for the Spanish Grand Prix.
Williams’ woeful weekend
While Williams have had a terrible 2019 thus far, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix marked a new low for the team. Following George Russell’s run-in with a loose manhole cover in FP1, an expensive accident that cost the team valuable track time, Robert Kubica crashed into the barriers at Turn 8 in qualifying, necessitating a second major rebuild for the team during the weekend. The Pole started Sunday’s race from the pit lane following extensive modifications aimed at improving his chances during the grand prix, but was issued with a mid-race drive through penalty for leaving the team garage earlier than regulations permitted to begin the race. The only positive note for the Grove racers came from Valtteri Bottas, who credited George Russell with enabling him to activate his DRS at a crucial moment while defending from a closing Hamilton in the final laps.