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BOTTAS BACK IN FRONT AT BAKU RICCIARDO GOES BACKWARDS

Valtteri Bottas won his second Grand Prix of the year in Baku and returned to the head of the World Championship leaderboard while Daniel Ricciardo retired after reversing into Daniel Kvyat’s Torro Rosso in what was yet another unusual race weekend in Azerbaijan.

Ricciardo accepted full blame for the incident with Kvyat, which began when the Renault driver made a move up the inside of the Torro Rosso for 10th on lap 32. He took to the turn 3 escape road when the Renault didn’t seem to slow sufficiently under brakes for the corner. Kvyat gave the Australian room but stopped his car at the approach to the corner. Contact was then made between the pair as Ricciardo began to reverse back towards the circuit proper. Both cars drove away from the corner and returned to the pit lane. To add insult to injury, Daniel Ricciardo was handed a 3 place grid penalty for the Spanish Grand Prix.

While Daniel Ricciardo took full responsibility for the incident; “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,” Ricciardo said, both Renaults suffered throughout the weekend with a reduced aero package which did not produce the predicted increase in straight line speed and actually reduced the handling and braking performance of ther cars.

Mercedes continued to dominate the top step of the podium with Bottas leading yet another Silver Arrows 1-2 in the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship. Lewis Hamilton looked to jump pole sitter Bottas off the line as he had done in China, though this time Valtteri managed to maintain the advantage as he ran side by side with the reigning world champion on the outside of turn 1. The better track position at the exit of the corner enabled Bottas to regain the lead of the race. Charles Leclerc dropped places at the start to Ricciardo and Sainz as he struggled for initial grip in the Ferrari, but soon moved back into the top 10 as he gained confidence with the harder tyre. The longer wearing rubber helped Leclerc move into the lead as those ahead stopped to replace their soft rubber, though he was soon caught as he begged the team for new tyres.

Kimi Raikkonen, Pierre Gasly and Robert Kubica were all forced to start the race from the pit lane after steward decisions disqualified both the Alfa Romeo and Red Bull driver from qualifying, while Kubica’s car required an extensive rebuild after his heavy crash in Q1.

Gasly brought out a virtual Safety Car period on lap 40 when his Aston Martin Red Bull stopped on track with a broken driveshaft in what turned out to be the only caution period of the race.  Bottas was back in front as the race resumed and held on to win from Hamilton, Vettel and Verstappen. Kimi Raikkonen rounded out the top 10.

This victory feels really good,” Bottas recounted. “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 wheelspin 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. Lewis was very quick today 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!”


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