2019 Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
- Podium: 1st Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes, 25 points); 2nd Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes, 18 points); 3rd Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari, 15 points)
- Fastest lap extra point: Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
- Next F1 GP: Spain, Sunday 12 May
Mercedes’ dominant start to the 2019 Formula 1 season continued on Sunday after the Silver Arrows claimed a fourth successive 1-2.
Their superb form is an all-time F1 record for the start of a year, the BBC reports, as Valtteri Bottas secured the victory at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku ahead of Lewis Hamilton.
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After the opening four races of the season Mercedes are flying high at the top of the drivers’ and constructors’ championships.
In the drivers’ standings Bottas leads the way with 87 points and team-mate Hamilton is second, one point behind on 86. In the constructors’ standings Mercedes have 173 points from four races - 74 more than title rivals Ferrari who are in second.
‘What a team’
Bottas led the Mercedes celebrations in Baku by hailing the team’s weekend performance at the street circuit.
The Finn, who started on pole, said: “This victory feels really good. When you’re starting from pole, you hope for a straightforward race - the less drama, the better it is. Lewis was very quick and was able to put on some pressure at the end of the race, so I had to make sure to not make any mistakes.
“I’ve already said it on the radio after the race: ‘what a team!’ The level at which everyone is performing at the moment is very impressive, both here at the track and back at the factory, and I’m really proud of everyone. We need to make sure we keep delivering at this level.”
Reigning world champion Hamilton echoed his team-mate’s praise of the Silver Arrows staff. The British driver said: “This is a great result. I think this team is stronger than it’s ever been and it’s all down to teamwork. Both Valtteri and myself are pushing the boundaries of the car and are delivering, as are the team in the pitstops, the engineers, and everyone back at the factory.
“I don’t think we have ever performed at this level before and I’m really grateful for all the hard work from everyone.”
Mercedes and their drivers will look to continue their winning run at the next F1 race. The Spanish GP on Sunday 12 May will be held at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and starts at 2.10pm (UK time).
Vettel ‘so bored’ by Merc victories
While Mercedes were celebrating another 1-2, Ferrari had to settle for a third-place podium finish for Sebastian Vettel and fifth for Charles Leclerc.
Vettel said that Mercedes’ domination is getting “so boring”, Planet F1 reports, but he is confident that Ferrari will improve.
Speaking in the paddock in Baku the German said with a smile: “So boring. It’s not just four races [Mercedes’ domination], it’s been what? Four years? More or less.
“We have got to work harder and better. We are pushing as hard as we can but we need to also respect that they [Mercedes] are doing phenomenally well and getting their cars, most of the time, in the right place.
“But I’m still confident. I believe in this team and think we can improve. “I think we have a good but don’t manage yet to put it where it belongs, so it’s difficult to have the trust and the feel [with the car].”
Bad weekend for Renault
Daniel Ricciardo has apologised for reversing into Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat. On lap 31 in Baku the Australian missed a corner and drove down an escape road. In an attempt to get back on track he put his car into reverse but did not know Kvyat was directly behind him.
The incident forced both drivers to retire and Ricciardo has now been handed a three-place grid drop for the next race in Spain.
Ricciardo said: “It was a strange incident which forced the retirement, but it was my mistake and I’m sorry to the team and to Daniil [Kvyat]. It was a bit of urgency on my behalf and I didn’t think straight for a few seconds, so I have to take that one on the chin.”
With Nico Hülkenberg also finishing 14th, Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul added: “Very clearly, it’s been a bad weekend.”
Driver reactions from Baku
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari (P5)
“Obviously [the race] has not been ideal, but mostly because the strategy cost us. It could have been a very positive race, but to be honest there’s nothing wrong with Ferrari, it’s just myself. I won’t put myself down again - I did it enough [on Saturday] - but I did a mistake and I’ll learn from it to come back stronger.”
Sergio Perez, Racing Point (P6)
“It has been a fantastic day. It was looking good at the start when I passed Verstappen, but we didn’t have the pace to fight against the Red Bulls over the race distance. I was actually focussed on keeping the McLarens at bay. It was not easy to keep them behind and I had to drive carefully for the whole of the race.”
Lance Stroll, Racing Point (P9)
“It feels good to be back in the points because it was a very challenging race from start to finish. This is a track that has no margin for error, keeping concentration was a key factor and that is what we did today. It was fun; we overtook cars on track and brought the car home in P9.”
Nico Hülkenberg, Renault (P14)
“It’s been a tough weekend. I had no response or anything to offer. I was pushing really hard, I felt like I was driving as best as I could but couldn’t extract the maximum from the car. We have a lot to investigate going forward, but maybe it’s one of those mysterious weekends, which happen. It’s been difficult from lap one on Friday and we’ve consistently struggled. It’s a bitter one for me and the team, but we’ll move on from this and be as best prepared for the next one.”
George Russell, Williams (P15)
“It’s not been a smooth weekend for us, but once we got going after qualifying I felt fine. I am quite relieved that this weekend is over, it didn’t seem like anything was going our way. Moving on to the next race, we are still pushing and hopefully Barcelona will be more positive.”
Robert Kubica, Williams (P16)
“I have never raced here in Baku and would like to say thank you to the mechanics. They did an amazing job to get the car back into one piece due to my mistake [on Saturday]. We decided to start from the pitlane and very soon it was clear that I had to be careful under braking. It wasn’t easy, but the priority was to bring the car home and I achieved this. Once again thank you to the mechanics as they achieved something extraordinary to get the car on track for the race.”
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