Mercedes complete yet another one-two in Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku. This time Valtteri Bottas finished on top and Lewis Hamilton finished second. The Mercedes duo have grabbed the top two positions in all the four races this season. This is the first time any team is winning the top two positions consecutively for the first four races in F1’s history.
Unflappable Bottas Clinches the Race
Bottas started from the pole, with Hamilton at two and Sebastian Vettel at three. As was the case in the Shanghai Grand Prix, Hamilton had a quicker start here as well. However, unlike in Shanghai, Bottas did not allow Hamilton to overtake him. He held off Hamilton’s advances in the first corner and never looked back.
He drove with supreme confidence and professional skills to finish the race without even facing any threats. He now leads Hamilton in the points table by one point, which he gained by virtue of the bonus point in Australian Grand Prix.
“This victory feels really good. When you’re starting from pole, you hope for a straightforward race. The less drama, the better it is. I didn’t have the greatest start; after the wheel spin in China I was maybe just a little too cautious. Lewis had a better start so we went side-by-side into Turn 1 and 2; it was good, respectful racing between the two of us and I’m glad I could pull up in front of him.”
No Drama at Baku’s Street Circuit
Baku’s Street Circuit, a relative new entrant to F1 calendar having hosted just three races, is supposedly an exciting circuit that could offer many dramatic incidents because of its narrow, straight lanes and difficult corners. The weather also changes unpredictably. The wind adds an additional dimension. After all, Baku is known as the city of winds.
There was no such drama even though the background beckoned it. Hamilton finished second without facing any challenge from the third-placed Vettel. The German, in turn, finished third without much fuzz.
There was some competition for the fourth spot between Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s impressive newcomer Charles Leclerc. Even though Verstappen finished fourth, Leclerc impressed with his speed once again. He clocked the fastest lap to gain the additional point. Maybe Ferrari’s strategy to start with medium tyres hindered his progress.
“… I started from P8 on medium tyres. It was a bit tricky in the beginning, because everyone around me was starting on the soft compound while I struggled a little bit to get up to speed. Once I got the tyres up to temperature, I had good grip and the situation improved.”
As things stand, Mercedes are clearly winning the season. They lead the constructors’ championship and their drivers face no outside pressure.