So far this year, the F1 paddock hasn’t been sure which version of Valterri Bottas will show up every race weekend. Fortunately, this weekend, the “Australian” Bottas showed up, taking Pole Position and then converting that into the race win. Is it the beard, I hear you ask? Well, whatever it is fuelling the Finn, porridge perhaps, is making him lead the championship, albeit by a point…
Crucial point of the race?
Once again it was the start of the race. If I was being brutally honest, seeing the Mercedes drivers of Valterri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton run side-by-side through turns 1, 2 and the approach to 3, was my favourite part of the race because it showed respect between the drivers and it proved that the reigning Constructors champions has the ability to let their drivers race despite pressure behind.
In the past few years when Lewis Hamilton was team-mates with Nico Rosberg, the idea of them racing on the same bit of tarmac would have Mercedes Management on tenterhooks. Just think back to Belgium 2014, Spain and Austria 2016, just to name a few. So with Hamilton and Bottas racing and fighting for the win, it shows rivals Ferrari how to act when their drivers are battling on track due to recent team orders being authorized by the Scuderia. The former of the two, Hamilton, who had the inside line at turn 1 said he was “too friendly” to Bottas and should have been a bit more “selfish.”
McLaren celebrate double points finish
One full year. That’s how long it took for both McLaren cars to finish in the points. Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne achieved it here last year and now Carlos Sainz Jr and Lando Norris have repeated the feat. Overall, McLaren’s strongest weekend for a while was due to the MCL34 being suited to rear-limited Baku circuit.
Norris was able to qualify in the top 10 in 7th while Sainz Jr missed out due to yellow flag conditions. Both drivers put in a controlled and steady pace to run well inside the top 10 with Sainz Jr finishing ahead of Norris in 7th and 8th to score 10 healthy points for the Woking team to lead the mid-field battle in 4th.
Ricciardo handed grid penalty for Spain
Well, Daniel Ricciardo’s bizarre incident summed-up Renault’s miserable weekend. The Australian was on the brinks of the top 10 and tried to overtake Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat. Ricciardo, known for late-breaking overtaking, miss-judged his braking point and ran wide at turn 3 with Kvyat having to take action to avoid him. Eager to get back into the race, Ricciardo reversed back unaware that the Toro Rosso was still stationary behind which resulted in contact which caused severe damage to the Toro Rosso car – ending the Russian’s race.
The stewards handed Ricciardo a 3 place grid drop for “causing a collision” for F1’s next outing in Spain, Barcelona. He was also given 2 penalty points added to his license. Renault team-mate, Nico Hulkenberg, didn’t fair any better as the German struggled with set-up all weekend and struggled to find a groove.
Drivers of the Day
- Valterri Bottas, 1st: Azerbaijan last year was cruel to Bottas – a puncture near the end of the race denied him of victory. A superbly controlled race along with close racing with Hamilton now sees the Finn re-take the lead of the championship.
- Sergio Perez, 6th: In recent years, the Mexican has faired quite well here scoring 2 podium finishes, but finishing in 6th and “best of the rest” will please the Racing Point driver. Jumping Max Verstappen at the start and then fending off the McLaren pair all race will please him even more.
- Carlos Sainz Jr, 7th: Finally, a clean race for the Spaniard in which he scored his first points of the season in 7th. He’s settled in well at McLaren and now has the points to prove it. He now looks forward to his home race in Spain.
- Kimi Raikkonen, 10th: The ever consistent Finn drove a flawless race from the pit-lane to 10th place after his front wing on his Alfa Romeo failed the deflection test. Although he expected more than a point, this was another fine race from the 2007 Champion to score points for the fourth time in a row this year.
1.Valterri Bottas 87pts 2.Lewis Hamilton 86pts 3.Sebastian Vettel 52pts 4.Max Verstappen 51pts 5.Charles Leclerc 47pts 6.Sergio Perez 13pts 7.Pierre Gasly 13pts 8.Kimi Raikkonen 13pts 9.Lando Norris 12pts 10.Kevin Magnussen 8pts
1.Mercedes 173pts 2.Ferrari 99pts 3.Red Bull Racing Honda 64pts 4.McLaren Renault 18pts 5.Racing Point BTW Mercedes 17pts 6.Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 13pts 7.Renault 12pts 8.Haas Ferrari 8pts 9.Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 4pts 10.Williams Mercedes 0pts