Baku Formula 1 race report: Bottas fends off Hamilton in Azerbaijan

Valtteri Bottas withstood a late charge from Lewis Hamilton to win Formula 1's Azerbaijan Grand Prix and atone for his heartbreak at the end of last year's race in Baku

Baku Formula 1 race report: Bottas fends off Hamilton in Azerbaijan

Twelve months after being denied victory by a late puncture, Bottas held his nerve under pressure to lead Hamilton home and regain the lead of the championship.

As Mercedes clinched its fourth one-two in four races at the start of the 2019 F1 season, Sebastian Vettel could only finish third again for Ferrari.

Vettel's team-mate Charles Leclerc recovered to fifth, behind Max Verstappen's Red Bull, after the qualifying crash that left him eighth on the grid.

Hamilton got the better start from the front row but Bottas held on around the outside of the first two corners and then built a strong margin through the rest of the lap.

Bottas kept Hamilton at arm's length until pitting on lap 12 of 51, one lap after Vettel and one lap before Hamilton.

That meant Bottas resumed in a net lead, but stopping two laps earlier than Hamilton drew Vettel closer to the second Mercedes.

The pace of the medium tyre was stronger than the soft, as demonstrated by Leclerc - who fell to 10th on the first lap but had charged to fourth by lap 10.

Leclerc, on new mediums following his crash in qualifying, assumed the lead when the top three pitted to get rid of their soft tyres.

He led the middle portion of the race, managing his pace effectively to stay ahead until Bottas finally got into DRS range and cleared the Ferrari into the first corner with 19 laps to go.

Hamilton took another lap to get ahead of Leclerc, which gave Bottas more breathing space after Hamilton had whittled the advantage down to almost nothing.

Bottas had a two-second lead to protect once the Mercedes one-two was restored, and Hamilton's attempts to cut into that were hit when Pierre Gasly ground to a halt and caused a virtual safety car.

Gasly had charged from the pitlane up to a comfortable sixth but his Red Bull, fitted with an upgraded Honda engine for this weekend, had to be parked up 12 laps from the finish.

The two-lap VSC also helped Bottas by giving him an extra one second over his pursuers, presumably as it ended in a favourable position for the leader.

Hamilton chipped away at that margin and with three laps to go got within DRS range of his team-mate.

Just as Hamilton looked like he might be about to launch a last-lap pass, Bottas picked up DRS himself down the start-finish straight as he lapped the Williams of George Russell.

That top-speed boost put Bottas 1.4s clear as he started the final tour, and he finished it 1.5s ahead to clinch his second win of the season.

Vettel ended up a lonely third, never quite close enough to attack a Mercedes but equally not under threat from Verstappen at the end.

Verstappen had a quietly effective race and looked like he could mount an attack on Vettel but fell away once the VSC period ended.

Leclerc finished almost a minute adrift of Verstappen after a second pitstop for another set of fresh soft tyres, which let him steal the fastest lap bonus point from Bottas.

Sergio Perez earned best-of-the-rest honours for Racing Point, finishing sixth to continue his fine record in Baku.

Though a third Azerbaijan podium was never on the cards, Perez was the class of the midfield after clearing early sixth-place runner Daniil Kvyat and rarely looked like being challenged.

Carlos Sainz Jr finally opened his account for McLaren in seventh place, but only after a race-long contest with team-mate Lando Norris. That was decided in Sainz's favour when Norris made an extra stop under the VSC.

McLaren celebrated its first double points finish of the season as Norris came home eighth, while Racing Point also got two drivers in the top 10 as Lance Stroll clinched ninth.

Kimi Raikkonen scored an unlikely point to keep his record of finishing in the top 10 every race this season, despite starting from the pitlane after his Alfa Romeo failed a front wing deflection test.

Among the four retirements were Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo, who have been summoned to the stewards over a bizarre incident in which Ricciardo reversed into Kvyat trying to get back on track after a failed overtaking attempt sent them both off at Turn 3.

Race result

Pos Driver Car Laps Gap
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 51 1h31m52.942s
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 51 1.524s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 51 11.739s
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 51 17.493s
5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 51 1m09.107s
6 Sergio Perez Racing Point/Mercedes 51 1m16.416s
7 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren/Renault 51 1m23.826s
8 Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 51 1m40.268s
9 Lance Stroll Racing Point/Mercedes 51 1m43.816s
10 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 50 1 Lap
11 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso/Honda 50 1 Lap
12 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 50 1 Lap
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 50 1 Lap
14 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 50 1 Lap
15 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 49 2 Laps
16 Robert Kubica Williams/Mercedes 49 2 Laps
- Pierre Gasly Red Bull/Honda 38 Driveshaft
- Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 38 Brakes
- Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Honda 33 Accident damage
- Daniel Ricciardo Renault 31 Accident damage

Drivers' standings

Pos Driver Points
1 Valtteri Bottas 87
2 Lewis Hamilton 86
3 Sebastian Vettel 52
4 Max Verstappen 51
5 Charles Leclerc 47
6 Sergio Perez 13
7 Pierre Gasly 13
8 Kimi Raikkonen 13
9 Lando Norris 12
10 Kevin Magnussen 8
11 Nico Hulkenberg 6
12 Carlos Sainz Jr. 6
13 Daniel Ricciardo 6
14 Lance Stroll 4
15 Alexander Albon 3
16 Daniil Kvyat 1
17 Antonio Giovinazzi 0
18 Romain Grosjean 0
19 George Russell 0
20 Robert Kubica 0

Constructors' standings

Pos Constructor Points
1 Mercedes 173
2 Ferrari 99
3 Red Bull/Honda 64
4 McLaren/Renault 18
5 Racing Point/Mercedes 17
6 Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 13
7 Renault 12
8 Haas/Ferrari 8
9 Toro Rosso/Honda 4
10 Williams/Mercedes 0



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