F1: Bottas leads a Mercedes 1-2 in Baku

Valtteri Bottas celebrates his second win of the season in Baku. Source: Sky Sports F1

Valtteri Bottas led home a fourth consecutive Mercedes 1-2 at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Bottas: “It was a tough race even though maybe not that much happening at the front, Lewis (Hamilton) was putting pressure on me all the time”

“I was happy to see the chequered flag and take this first place” added the Finn.

Starting from pole position, Bottas was able to hold off his Mercedes team-mate Hamilton in the first few turns in order to keep his first place.

Hamilton congratulates his Mercedes teammate Bottas on another exceptional drive. Source: Sky Sports F1

Running on the Soft compound tyre, Bottas pitted at the end of Lap 12 for a set of Mediums, rejoining in fourth place while Hamilton inherited first.

Hamilton then pitted on the following lap which gave Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc the lead, the Monegasque driver starting on the more durable Medium tyres.

As Vettel and Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen pitted soon after, Bottas quickly moved into second, running in the net-lead of the race, closing in on Leclerc by setting fastest lap after fastest lap, overtaking the leading Ferrari on Lap 31.

Staying out in front, Bottas was again able to hold off a late charge from Hamilton, taking the chequered flag at the end of Lap 51 to claim victory for Mercedes, leading another 1-2 finish for the German team making it the most successful start of a season for a team in the history of Formula One.

Ferrari’s Vettel experienced a pretty boring race in third, the German with flashes of pace but was ultimately unable to challenge the Mercedes duo, meanwhile Verstappen took fourth as the sole finishing Red Bull, with team-mate Pierre Gasly retiring from sixth place due to a gearbox issue during the latter stages of the race.

Vettel: “It was crucial to get third, good for Charles to get the fastest lap and snatch it away from the Mercedes boys”

Leclerc followed Verstappen home to take fifth, with the Monegasque recovering from his qualifying crash yesterday to take his third fifth place of the year.

Charles Leclerc walks away from his Ferrari in despair after a crucial qualifying error. Source: Sky Sports F1

A pit-stop late on gave him the extra point for fastest lap, setting a new lap record in the process.

Sergio Perez took home a strong sixth place for Racing Point with McLaren’s Carlos Sainz taking seventh for the British outfit with team-mate Lando Norris banking four points finishing in eighth place.

Racing Point’s Lance Stroll took ninth place with Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen rounding out the top 10 after starting from the pitlane in a solid drive.

Despite a relatively trouble-free Azerbaijan Grand Prix compared to recent years, Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo had his third DNF of the season after running wide into Turn 3 and then reversing into the stricken Toro Rosso car of Daniil Kvyat, who was also forced to retire.

Expect to see plenty of upgrades as the teams tend to bring their first major update packages to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya every year.

Can Ferrari maintain their blistering pace from pre-season testing in Spain or will Mercedes continue their dominant streak?

We will find out when the European season begins in two weeks’ time in Barcelona with the Spanish Grand Prix set to take place on May 10-12.