Valtteri Bottas held off Lewis Hamilton to win in Azerbaijan and take the lead of the Formula One world championship.
Bottas started from pole position and kept Hamilton at bay as the Mercedes duo went wheel-to-wheel through the opening three bends.
Hamilton attempted a late charge for victory, but Bottas had enough in his pocket to take the chequered flag and move one point clear of the Brit in the title standings.
Sebastian Vettel finished third for Ferrari. Charles Leclerc started eighth after he crashed out of qualifying and the Ferrari junior, on a different strategy to the front runners, fought his way back through the field following a fast start, and actually led a large chunk of the race.
But on ageing rubber he began to slow, and by the time he was hauled in for a change of tyres, he had fallen to sixth.
The young Monegasque claimed one position back to take fifth, but he will depart Baku wondering what might have been had it not been for his qualifying blunder.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen crossed the line in fourth.
The race on the streets of Azerbaijan’s capital city has been one of the sport’s highlights in recent seasons but Sunday’s event failed to live up to its pre-race hype.
Bottas will not mind, though. The Finn failed to win once last year but now has two victories from the opening four rounds.
Mercedes will care little that the race was a dud, too. The Silver Arrows secured their fourth one-two from as many races. So much for a Ferrari revival.
“It was a tough race,” said Bottas. “Lewis was putting pressure on me all the time, so I couldn’t make any mistakes. It was under control and I was happy to see the chequered flag.
“It means a lot. It is incredible as a team what level we are performing to, and I am proud to be part of that. It is only my fifth win, so of course it feels good.”
Hamilton said: “Valtteri made no mistakes and truly deserved the win. For me, it was all lost in qualifying.
“This is the best start to a season we have had.”
There will have been hearts in mouths on the Mercedes pit wall after Hamilton secured the better start. The pair were within centimetres of touching, but the brilliance of both drivers ensured they avoided contact.
Vettel would have been watching on hoping for a collision, but it failed to materialise. He is now 35 points adrift of Bottas and 34 behind Hamilton.
Leclerc roared his way up to fourth after 10 laps. On the quicker rubber, he was, at one stage, three seconds faster than the leaders.
He led after 14 laps as the leading three stopped. On lap 34, he had to come in, and that was where his challenge ended.
There was some joy for Leclerc as he stopped for a second time in the closing stages to take on fresh tyres and post the fastest lap, claiming a bonus point.
He is now 40 points off the championship summit.
McLaren secured a double points finish, with Carlos Sainz seventh, finishing one spot ahead of British rookie Lando Norris.
Daniel Ricciardo provided some unintended amusement when he ran off the track while duelling with Daniil Kvyat and then accidentally reversed into the Russian’s Toro Rosso, ending both of their races.
Ferrari didn’t help Leclerc’s chances again…
…by keeping him out for way to long and losing too much time, then not having enough time to make it up on the quicker tyres. Sure, Leclerc can only blame himself for yesterday but Ferrari were not very helpful today.
Updated driver championship standings – after four races
- Valtteri Bottas FIN MERCEDES 87
- Lewis Hamilton GBR MERCEDES 86
- Sebastian Vettel GER FERRARI 52
- Max Verstappen NED RED BULL RACING HONDA 51
- Charles Leclerc MON FERRARI 47
- Sergio Perez MEX RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES 13
- Pierre Gasly FRA RED BULL RACING HONDA 13
- Kimi Räikkönen FIN ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI 13
- Lando Norris GBR MCLAREN RENAULT 12
- Kevin Magnussen DEN HAAS FERRARI 8
Vettel jumps Verstappen. Perez jumps Gasly. Norris into double figures.
This will be an interesting race to unpick…
…not a superb race. It promised much but the wheel-to-wheel battles never really materialised at the front. Ferrari’s best hopes of victory went with Leclerc’s crash yesterday. What would have happened had he not made the error? Who knows. He did and both he and Ferrari paid the price. Vettel just didn’t really have the pace, it was his first stint that did the damage.
Charles Leclerc reacts…
…speaking to Karun Chandhok. Why did they not pit earlier?
I believe there is a reason for that. I need to look at the data first before [making] any comments. Overall I felt I lost time once Valtteri, Seb, Lewis passed me. I asked is there any possibility for us to come back so from that point onwards there was not any point to catch them. That’s why I think the second and third stints were nowhere.
On the medium we were very, very strong. If you look at the leaders, they did the longest stint on the mediums. There is nothing wrong with Ferrari, it is just myself yesterday. I will learn from it to come back stronger.
That’s a double points finish for both McLaren and Racing Point
Good recovery drive from Raikkonen to take 10th. Alfa, Racing Point and McLaren the pick of the midfield. Renault and Haas were nowhere. Toro Rosso looked fast but couldn’t make it work, really. Albon finished 11th.
Not sure calling it the cool-down room is that accurate…
…the atmosphere was more like a freezer in there.
Hamilton and Bottas not too chatty in the cool down room…
…Bottas looks calm. Bottas won that at the start.
“That was close,” Vettel says to both Mercedes drivers, looking at the start of the race. Ha. Whilst Vettel has had his troubles he has never looked troubled.
Vettel reacts to third
The first stint was really poor. I struggled initially to get the tyres to work. Then I damaged them. I was really uncomfortable and inconsistent. Couldn’t get a feel for the car. After that I was surprised. No problems [with the medium tyres]. I think we had some pace to at least go with them [Mercedes[. In the end we had enough pace on the medium tyre to react to keep [Verstappen] behind. Still plenty of work for us to do. At this point I think we just need to maximise what we can.
I think we are not the favourites going into Barcelona. We need to chase them down. We need a smooth weekend. Our first four weekends haven’t been that smooth.
Hmmm. They have just been dominated by Mercedes, who have barely made a mistake. Mistakes a plenty from Ferrari.
Hamilton reacts to his second place
Congratulations to Valtteri. He made no mistakes and truly deserves the win. It was all lost in qualifying. There’s not much more for me to say. It’s a team effort. Everyone back at the factory has been working. It’s a true testament to the strength and depth as a team. It was a really great race. For once we were able to push until the very end.
It was a tough race even though not that much happened at the front. Lewis was putting pressure on. Everything was under control. It means a lot. It’s incredible as a team on which kind of level. We are all performing really, really well. For me as well it’s only my fifth win.
Lewis congratulates Valtteri…
…but he’s disappointed, as he will be. Of course. Vettel does the same. We might just need to start thinking a little bit about Bottas’s title challenge now. Sustaining it is one thing.
He should have won here last year but that was the turning point for his season. From then on he failed to match Hamilton after a strong start. He needs to take this mentality and form into Barcelona. Last year he was miles behind. That will perhaps be the true test for the Finn.
Leclerc gets the extra point for fastest lap…
…at the end.
“Yes…ha!” Bottas yelps with delight on the radio
Bottas drove out of his skin this weekend. He is driving as well as he ever has. It’s ANOTHER 1-2 for Mercedes. Their fourth in a row. Ferrari flatter to deceive. Vettel did not have the pace this weekend. Leclerc did but he put it in the wall in qualifying and wrecked his hopes of victory.
VALTTERI BOTTAS WINS THE 2019 AZERBAIJAN GRAND PRIX
He rounds turn 16. Goes through the final section of curves.
WHAT A PERFORMANCE FROM BOTTAS! YES VALTTERI! He does it in Baku and takes the lead of the championship. Lewis Hamilton was close but he just had no answer!
Can Bottas hang on? He’s 1.5s ahead of Hamilton now…surely he can? Can he erase the pain from last year!?
Lap 49 of 51 – the leaders are approaching the backmarkers…
…of Stroll and Russell. Overtake mode available to Bottas…can Lewis get DRS this time around? Not quite…I don’t think. Hamilton runs VERY wide at turn 16 and loses three tenths of a second. Bottas gets DRS from George Russell’s Williams…
Hamilton is further behind now. It’s the fastest lap of the race for Bottas…
Lap 48 of 51 – Hamilton within DRS range of Bottas…
…at the end and start of the lap. Oooh. Fastest lap to Hamilton. He takes seven tenths out of Bottas there! Bottas needs to respond…can he? Yes. He is slightly up in the first sector…Hamilton lost two tenths in the middle sector somewhere…will he get DRS at the end of the lap? No…but he will get a mighty tow. He’s not close enough yet.
2 LAPS TO GO.
Lap 47 of 51 – Bottas increases his lead…
…over Hamilton. Briefly. It’s quite stable to be honest…He’s keeping him at bay. Hamilton gets the tow at the end of the lap which is worth a couple of tenths, easily.
Will these two be tussling on track before the end of the race?! Ferrari will stop Leclerc in an attempt to get him the quickest lap. He has a pit stop in hand, you see. So he may as well.
Lap 46 of 51 – Verstappen’s pace not really with the leaders…
…Vettel isn’t too far off but isn’t quite there, either. He’s now 4s behind Hamilton. Ooh. Bottas is going to catch Raikkonen, who will be lapped, in the middle part of the sector. That could cost him a few tenths. By then Hamilton may have closed up a bit and may get DRS…
Scratch that. Raikkonen gets out of the way very kindly for both cars.
Bottas leads by 1.5 at the end of the lap. Only 5 to go.
Lap 44 of 51 – Bottas and Hamilton are on it
Bottas lights up sector two. He could do with a bit more of a cushion. Hamilton was within 0.03s of him, though. It’s the quickest lap of the race for Bottas but Hamilton was within a tenth of it.
Lap 43 of 51 – Hamilton took 0.7s from Bottas on that lap..
…Vettel also quick. Very quick. They are approaching lapped cars now…this could get tasty. Verstappen warned to stay off exit curb at turn 16. He got a bit lairy there earlier in the race.
Lap 42 of 51 – Bottas leads Hamilton
Verstappen got sideways going into turn seven when the VSC ended. Bottas leads Hamilton by 3.3, Vettel a further three seconds behind…Verstappen a further 3 behind Vettel.
Leclerc is in P5. 30s behind Vettel. P5 the best for him unless retirements occur in front.
Lap 41 of 51 – Well, this could be an interesting few final laps…
…once the VSC comes in. Can Verstappen find the pace he needs to challenge for the win? We will probably have the top four within 5 or 6 seconds shortly.
Gasly pulls up
Grosjean out of the race too now. Norris takes his pit stop, second of the race.
Pierre Gasly is slowing…he’s going to be out. He needs to find an escape road. He does…no need for a safety car.
Gutting. This has been a decent-ish race for him. He lost power.
Wait, it’s a Virtual Safety Car.
Lap 38 of 51 – top 10
- HAM +1.6
- VET +4.0
- VER +7.3
- LEC +29.9
Perez vulnerable to Norris now. Sainz not too far behind, either. Leclerc just is not closing up on Verstappen. In fact Verstappen was two seconds quicker that round…
Lap 37 of 51 – the top thre are within 3.6s now…
…has Vettel been keeping his powder dry? Kvyat and Ricciardo out of the race, by the way.
Lap 36 of 51 – Bottas leads Hamilton by 1.6s…
Leclerc gets DRS on the second straight and gets Gasly before the braking zone, pretty much. Time to put the pedal to the metal.
Lap 35 of 51 – Leclerc comes out of the pits…
Does Leclerc come out ahead of Gasly? No he does not! It’s close but he has to lift off and let Gasly through at turn three. He keeps him behind.
Leclerc is 28s behind Bottas now. And he still has to get past Gasly. I am not even sure if Leclerc is favourite to get past Verstappen at the end of the race…
Still Leclerc is behind Gasly. He can’t get through into turn one…
Lap 34 of 51 – What are Ferrari doing here?
Leclerc is dangerously close to coming out behind Gasly if he stops now. Verstappen flying. But Gasly hasn’t stopped yet. Hamilton within 2.2s of Bottas. He lost a whole second on the last lap.
Ferrari mechanics out for Leclerc. Here they go…
Lap 33 of 51 – What are Ferrari doing here?
Leclerc is losing bags of time and he will surely have to let Vettel past if he does not come in. He is now minimising the amount of laps they will have on the soft tyres at the end.
Still he doesn’t come in! Vettel has DRS and Leclerc has to let him past.
“It will be soon, we don’t think the soft will last,” that’s your answer from Ferrari.
Well, Ricciardo and Kvyat didn’t actually touch…
…they both went deep into turn three. Synchronised locking up. Oh, hang on! Ricciardo reverse into Kvyat when trying to get out of it. Oh dear…
Leclerc stays out! Hamilton has lost a bit of time here and Bottas is getting away a bit. Hamilton gets through the inside of Leclerc’s Ferrari in turn one. Not sure why he’s being kept out here to be honest. He’s losing time here and Vettel is nearly on him!
Lap 31 of 51 – Hamilton RIGHT up on Bottas’s rear end…
…it’s more likely for Bottas to be overtaken by Hamilton than for him to overtake Leclerc on the pit straight. I don’t think we’ll find out thouh as Leclerc will surely pit? No? No. Bottas overtakes him! He’s in the lead, around the outside at turn one.
Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat have had a shunt at turn three!
Lap 30 of 51 – Hamilton closing up on Bottas…
…surely Ferrari aren’t going to use Leclerc to back them all up? Is it worth him losing lap time getting overtaken if he does? It’s getting very close out there. Vettel is a little further back. Bottas still picking up the tow. Leclerc does not pit this time. But he may do next time. Leclerc has Bottas in DRS range behind him. Hamilton will be within DRS range of Bottas too!
Lap 29 of 51 – Bottas within 1.5s of Leclerc
See how it looks on track. Leclerc followed by Bottas and Hamilton, a little further back.
“Let’s start to make a move on Leclerc, everybody is bunching up behind”
Bottas is told on the team radio. He’s within two seconds now. It might not be long. Vettel puts his foot down to set his personal best lap. 0.9s quicker than Leclerc.
Lap 27 of 51 – Raikkonen passes Magnussen for P13…
…Hamilton’s pace looks decent. 8.2s separates the top four. Max Verstappen a further 7.5 behind Vettel and going quite well. Quickest man on the track.
Lap 26 of 51 – Leclerc sets his fastest lap of the race…
…his lap times are coverging with those behind him and his lead has stabilised. That is very good news for Ferrari. They can extend this stint, though he would be behind Verstappen if he were to stop now. Hamilton has closed on Bottas and left Vettel behind. This is shaping up nicely at just over half race distance…let’s hope it turns into something.
Lap 25 of 51 – Hamilton picks up a few tenths on Vettel
Grosjean locks up in front of Ricciardo, takes the escape road, spins it around and rejoins. He’s down into P15 having not stopped. A poor weekend for Haas. Norris in P8, Sainz in P9. Good weekend for McLaren so far. Still 20 cars running…and no safety car!
Lap 24 of 51 – Vettel on the charge…
…as he tries to close in Hamilton, who is minding his tyres. The gap is closing in. It’s 2.2s currently. Vettel will close with the tow on the pit straight…Bottas now within 3.7 of leader Leclerc.
Lap 23 of 51 – Verstappen still the fastest man on the track…
…just about. The pace has cooled a little across the board. “We are confident the opportunities will come at the end of the race,” Lewis is told on the radio.
Lap 22 of 51 – Leclerc’s lead down to 5.5s now…
…Bottas has increased his lead over Hamilton, who has been told to mind his tyres.
Lap 21 of 51 – Top 10 and gaps
- BOT +7s
- HAM +9s
- VET +14s
- VER +23s
- GAS* +30S
- PER +47s
- NOR +49
- SAI +51
- KVY +58
*yet to stop.
Verstappen claims the fastest lap.
Lap 20 of 51 – Hamilton sets another fastest lap…
…everyone is fairly hammering it at the moment. Leclerc is still lapping fairly well, setting his personal bests quite regularly. The tow is helping out Hamilton. Vettel is dropping behind now, he doesn’t have Hamilton’s pace.
Lap 19 of 51 – Leclerc leads Bottas…
…but has yet to stop. Worth considering that he will have the soft compound tyres at the end of the race (providing no safety cars) when they will be at their best compared to the mediums. With lighter fuel and on a colder track.
Hamilton sets the fastest lap again. He’s reeling Bottas in, who is reeling Leclerc in…how long will Leclerc go?
Lap 18 of 51 – Bottas responds with the fastest lap…
…Leclerc is still lapping okay. But he’s lost a whole second to Bottas on that lap but he did set his best time. So it’s still looking fine for him. Hamilton beats the fastest lap, though!
Lap 17 of 51 – Hamilton sets another fastest lap…
…that time 0.8s ahead of Bottas. Bottas set his fastest lap of the race, too, 0.2s or so down from Hamilton’s time.
*yet to stop.
Lap 16 of 51 – Hamilton sets the fastest lap…
…that’s more like it. His first full lap on those new tyres. He’s 3.8 behind Bottas and lapping much quicker and 2.0s ahead of Vettel.
Leclerc leads still, having not stopped.
Lap 15 of 51 – Verstappen pits…
…and he comes out behind Gasly, in P6. Vettel’s lap times on the new mediums are much quicker than Bottas’s. Lewis Hamilton has Vettel on his tail. What has happened here? Leclerc still lapping quicker than both Mercs. Err….
Lap 14 of 51 – Vettel sets the fastest lap
Bottas sets his quickest sector 3 time at the end of his out lap. So that tells us something. Vettel sets the fastest lap on his fresh new tyres and that tells us more. But it’s only 0.5s quicker than Leclerc.
Drive through penalty for Kubica for being driven to the pit lane too early. Woe.
Lap 13 of 51 – Leclerc STILL flying
Right, let’s see the comparable lap times with Bottas and Vettel on fresh mediums with Leclerc on 13 lap old ones. That will give us a good idea. Hamilton pits. Leclerc was just 2.7s behind him and now he inherits the lead. Verstappen has been kept out. They may go long.
Lap 12 of 51 – Leclerc flying…
Vettel comes out just ahead of Sainz and in P5. Quick stop and that has worked out well, he has clean air. Leclerc is still setting quickest sector times. He is currently 5.6s behind Hamilton and closing at over two seconds a lap.
Bottas pits! Quick enough stop. 2.8s. He comes out a few seconds behind Verstappen. Onto the mediums.
Lap 11 of 51 – Perez pits…
…a lot jumping into the pits now. Leclerc is going to be on the back of Vettel and probably even past him at the end of the lap! He’s closed over three seconds in two laps!
Can he do it before the end of the lap? Vettel pits! So yes he can.
Lap 10 of 51 – Bottas drops half a second on Hamilton
Leclerc has 1.2s on Vettel on that lap. Wow.
Lap 9 of 51 – Verstappen worried about his engine braking…
…Leclerc lines up Verstappen on the pit straight and is through before even the DRS zone. Or not long after it started. He’s in P4 now and is 3.7s behind his team-mate. It won’t be too long at this race, that he will be close on Vettel.
The mediums working much better at the moment. I don’t think Ferrari will have a decision to make as the tow is just worth so much time here that it’ll be easy for Leclerc to pass Vettel on the straight. Gasly up to P9. Lapping well.
Lap 8 of 51 – Bottas leads Hamilton by 3.7s
As Sainz flies past Norris on the pit straight. Have Mercedes put too much into their tyres early on? They are lapping a second slower than a few laps ago. Vettel is lapping similarly to them now but Leclerc is about 0.8s quicker than both of them.
Lap 7 of 51 – Mercedes pace just dropping off a bit now
Leclerc is the quickest man on the track currently. Vettel has upped his pace, too. Leclerc will soon be up on the back of Verstappen’s Red Bull.
Lap 6 of 51 – Bottas increases his lead to 3.1s
Robert Kubica is under investigation. Leclerc continues his progress through the field with a move on the pit straight on Perez for P5. Does it before the braking point. Remember he is on the medium tyres. They are working well enough for him now, though.
Raikkonen pits early.
Lap 5 of 51 – Bottas leads by 2.9s
Kimi Raikkonen just registered a top speed of 352km/h. Or 2018mph. Bottas sets another fastest lap. Verstappen sends one down the inside of Perez at turn one and he’s up into P4. Leclerc passes Norris for P6. Perez and Verstappen up next for the Ferrari driver. Vettel’s pace is non-existent right now.
Lap 4 of 51 – Bottas leads Hamilton by 2.6s
The gap is fairly comfortable. Vettel is now 4.3s behind Hamilton. Verstappen gets VERY close to Perez but doesn’t make a move.
Lap 3 of 51 – Bottas leads by 2.4s from Hamilton
Vettel is 6.1 behind Bottas and 3.5 behind Hamilton. Struggling. That is an absolute age. Leclerc now has Sainz in his sights in P8…Norris has dropped a bit further back from Verstappen now.
Lap 2 of 51 – Bottas leads by 2.1s
Lando Norris has a look at Verstappen into turn one but doesn’t really look like making a real move. Bottas has got a huge lead already, relatively. Leclerc now up to 9th. Not sure Hamilton quite had the lead actually…he ran Bottas out a bit wide at turn one but that’s the racing line, really, just off the track.
The 2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix is away!
Five lights out! Hamilton gets a superb start next to Bottas and the two go side by side into turn one and two! Hamilton leads just but Bottas fights back and retakes the lead, getting his elbows out. Tough stuff! Fair driving. Perez up into fourth, Norris up to P6.
Leclerc is down in P10, behind Sainz and Ricciardo!
Tyre types for the start…
…Leclerc the only man in the top 13 starting on mediums. Is that good for him? He could be vulnerable at the start and in the first few laps. Elsewhere, Grosjean in P14, Russell in P16, Kubica and Gasly from the pitlane all start on the mediums. Everyone else on softs.
Shame for the Alfas that they drop down the grid today…
…it was Antonio Giovinazzi’s best qualifying performance and they were both in the top 10.
Still, the pace is there and they can perhaps try something different with Raikkonen’s strategy.
That Daniel Ricciardo is starting P10 is a massive result for Renault…
…given how poor they were in qualifying. Still, do they have the race pace? They really struggled with their brakes yesterday.
About seven minutes to go until the formation lap begins. Can Vettel unlock the Ferrari’s pace? Can he jump one or both Mercedes at the start.
…is saying he’s not sure how his Mercedes team turned around a 1.5s deficit from final practice into a front row lockout in qualifying. Well if he doesn’t know (he could be telling porkies) then what chance have we got?
They are about to unveil the trophy…
…what? Is this a thing? This should not be a thing.
Meanwhile Chase Carey stands at the front on his own, grinning like a Cheshire cat whilst the national anthem rings out. How odd.
Strategy chat with 20 minutes until lights out
#BakuGP strategy: A one-stopper is the clear choice for this 51-lap race: either going from soft to medium or medium to soft (which makes little difference). If starting on the soft, the best option is to stop on lap 25; if starting on the medium it’s best to stop on lap 26 (1/2)
— Pirelli Motorsport (@pirellisport) April 27, 2019
Nonetheless, there’s a very wide pit stop window here for #BakuGP: effectively from lap 15 onwards, so those numbers can be considered only as a guide. A two-stopper is definitely slower (2/2)
— Pirelli Motorsport (@pirellisport) April 27, 2019
Last year Bottas put himself into contention with a very long stint. Wouldn’t be surprised to see a few try that here this year. The overcut may even be more effective than the undercut.
Also, Charles Leclerc will start on brand new medium compound tyres after his crash yesterday.
What can Red Bull deliver today?
They have an upgraded Honda power unit this weekend and it seems to be working quite well. They are still the third quickest car behind Mercedes and Ferrari but the aim this season absolutely has to be to close the gap.
Obviously it will be tough for Gasly starting from the pit lane but in P4 for Max Verstappen there are opportunities.
Struggling Pierre Gasly needs time but his plight underlines Max Verstappen’s real value to Red Bull
When Pierre Gasly was told of his promotion to Red Bull last summer he ran around his house shouting with delight. It was deserved. His fourth place in Bahrain, seventh in Monaco and sixth in Hungary the highlights of a promising debut year. But so far in 2019, this dream opportunity has been an enormous challenge.
Read more of my thoughts on Gasly’s tricky start to life as a Red Bull driver. It hasn’t been much better this weekend, though he did top Q1. Mind you, he was disqualified from qualifying so…
30 minutes to go…
So here’s the grid.
Starting from the pit lane:
KUB, RAI, GAS
…a Mercedes (not sure which one) has gone straight on at turn three (I think?). No damage or contact, though, but cold brakes and tyres can cause that on the way to the grid.
W Series favourite Jamie Chadwick on five-year plan to blow F1’s doors down and ignoring the doubters
Jamie Chadwick harbours few qualms about her attempt to shatter one of sport’s most daunting glass ceilings, by becoming the first woman to achieve lasting success as a Formula One driver. Resistance to the idea, though, remains potent. Only last week, Helmut Marko, the notoriously blunt Austrian who brings through young drivers at Red Bull, scoffed: “Wheel-to-wheel fighting at 300km/h (186mph) means you must have some brutality. I don’t know if that is in the female nature.”
Well, it’s been a wretched weekend for Williams…
…but this race is probably their best chance for points in the season. The chance is still extremely slim, mind you. The hope will be that eight or nine cars ahead of them end up not finishing if that is to be the case.
The Baku City Circuit
- Circuit length: 6.003km
- First grand prix: 2016
- Laps: 51
- Race distance: 306.049km
- Race lap record: 1.43.441 (Sebstian Vettel, 2017)
- 2018 winner: Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
- Number of corners: 20
What can Charles Leclerc do today from P8 on the grid?
I am backing him for at least a podium. But it can get a bit messy starting in the midfield. The performance of the Ferrari in the final sector will be important if he’s going to pass cars. I think he will be starting on the medium compound tyres. Not sure that will work in his favour on the first couple of laps, especially given how hard it has been to warm the tyres up. We do start an hour earlier than yesterday’s qualifying, though.
Driver standings after three rounds
- Lewis Hamilton 68
- Valtteri Bottas 62
- Max Verstappen 39
- Sebastian Vettel 37
- Charles Leclerc 36
- Pierre Gasly 13
- Kimi Räikkönen 12
- Lando Norris GBR 8
- Kevin Magnussen 8
- Nico Hulkenberg 6
- Daniel Ricciardo 6
- Sergio Perez 5
- Alexander Albon 3
- Lance Stroll 2
- Daniil Kvyat 1
The moment it all went wrong for young Charles
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Final times from qualifying…
…obviously some drivers below will be shifted around but just to give an indication of timings.
- Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes GP 1min 40.495secs
- Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:40.554
- Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 1:40.797
- Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1:41.069
- Sergio Perez (Mex) Racing Point 1:41.593
- Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:41.681
- Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren 1:41.886
- Antonio Giovinazzi (Ita) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:42.424
- Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:43.068
- Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari no time set
- Carlos Sainz (Spa) McLaren 1:42.398
- Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Renault 1:42.477
- Alexander Albon (Tha) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:42.494
- Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 1:42.699
- Pierre Gasly (Fra) Red Bull no time set
- Lance Stroll (Can) Racing Point 1:42.630
- Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas F1 1:43.407
- Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault 1:43.427
- George Russell (Gbr) Williams 1:45.062
- Robert Kubica (Pol) Williams 1:45.455
Updates on driver penalties
Including a few that have been announced since the end of qualifying.
- Kimi Raikkonen has been disqualified from qualifying after his Alfa Romeo failed a front wing deflection test. He will start from the pit lane
- Pierre Gasly has also been disqualified from qualifying after a fuel flow infringement was discovered. He was already starting from the pit lane after he ignored the instruction to go into the weighbridge in FP2
- Robert Kubica will start from the pit lane after Williams needed to change parts on his car after his heavy shunt in qualifying
- Antonio Giovinazzi gets a 10-place grid drop for an unscheduled change of parts on his ECU
This obviously means the grid has been moved around a little. We will have the FINAL FINAL grid for you shortly.
A bit more on the chaos in first practice on Friday…
Good afternoon F1 fans!
And welcome to our liveblog for the 2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix. As I said yesterday, the first year of the race in Baku didn’t bring about much drama. The next two brought several races’ worth in one afternoon. Fingers crossed for another dramatic race today. If qualifying is anything to go by then we are due a few incidents and inevitably a few safety car periods. Who will the luck fall to this time?
Speaking of qualifying, yesterday was an incident-packed session. First of all Robert Kubica slammed his Williams into the wall at turn 8, causing a fairly lengthy delay as the barriers were repaired. Not a great weekend for them so far, what with George Russell’s car being heavily damaged by a loose drain cover in first practice.
When Q2 eventually did get going, Charles Leclerc did pretty much the same thing, albeit in a slightly different way, wrecking any chances of pole position. He was looking like the favourite at that time but it was not to be. He spoke afterwards and was very annoyed with himself and pretty gutted, as you’d imagine.
“I deserve what happened today. I am very sad for what happened but I deserve it. I have been stupid as I say on the radio,” he told Sky Sports F1.
“I have calmed down but I still think I have been stupid. I will push to learn from this and come back stronger and hopefully have a good race tomorrow. I don’t want to say anything stupid but…pole was possible today and I threw all the potential in the bin.” He will start P8 after Giovinazzi and Raikkonen’s penalties.
Enough about the guys that messed up, anyway. Valtteri Bottas put in a superb last gasp lap to claim his second successive pole position, ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton in second and Sebastian Vettel in third for Ferrari.
“It’s all about small margins and I did get a good tow in the last lap. Of course, the corners I had to drive as well, but it’s all about fine details and I managed to hit the sweet spot,” the Finn said after his pole lap.
He will be hoping to put right the wrong of his retirement from the lead of last year’s race in Baku, when a late puncture scuppered his chances of victory.
I’ll be here for the next few hours with all the build-up, latest updates and reaction from the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
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