Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas takes the lead after winning in Baku
Mercedes finish one-two for the fourth successive race
Valtteri Bottas won the Azerbaijan Grand Prix yesterday to retake the Formula One world championship lead from teammate Lewis Hamilton after a stunning fourth successive one-two finish for Mercedes.
The Finn, who started on pole position, crossed the line 1.524 seconds ahead of Hamilton to make up for last year's agony, in which he was denied victory in Baku by a late puncture.
The pair are now separated by just one point with 17 races remaining, with Mercedes 74 points ahead of Ferrari in the constructors' standings.
"It was actually a tough race," said Bottas, who went side-by-side with Hamilton on the opening lap and showed plenty of grit and determination in fending off the Briton to hold position.
"Lewis was putting pressure all the time, I could not do any mistakes," added the 29-year-old, who came under renewed threat from Hamilton in the dying laps.
Sebastian Vettel in his Ferrari was a distant third as the Italian pre-season favourites again failed to convert their promise into a result.
The win around the streets of capital Baku was the fifth of Bottas' career and he became the first driver this season to win from pole.
Like Hamilton, he now has two wins and two second places from the first four races, but is ahead thanks to the extra point he scored for setting the fastest lap on his way to victory in the Australian season opener.
"I was too friendly at turn one and basically gave it to him," said Hamilton.
Mercedes are the first two-car team in Formula One's 70-year history to open a season with four straight one-twos.
VERSTAPPEN IN FOURTH
Max Verstappen was fourth for Red Bull ahead of Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.
The Monegasque, the pole-position favourite who started eighth after crashing in qualifying, led the race at one point after staying out longer than rivals on softer tyres.
While he ultimately had to settle for fifth, Leclerc took the extra point for fastest lap after making a second stop for fresh tyres with a comfortable buffer to those behind and no risk of losing position.
Sergio Perez was sixth for Racing Point ahead of McLaren's Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris.
Lance Stroll gave Racing Point a double points finish with ninth place, while Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen took 10th after starting from the pitlane.
The main surprise of the day was the lack of upsets, with no safety car on track for the first time and no major crashes on unforgiving streets that have given the race a reputation for unpredictability. - REUTERS
AZERBAIJAN GP RESULTS (Top 5)
1 Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 1hr 31min 52.942sec
2 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +1.524s
3 Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +11.739s
4 Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +17.493s
5 Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +69.107s
DRIVERS STANDINGS ( Top 5)
1 Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 87 points
2 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 86pts
3 Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 52pts
4 Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 51pts
5 Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 47pts
CONSTRUCTOR (Top 5)
1 Mercedes 173 points
2 Ferrari 99 pts
3 Red Bull 64 pts
4 McLaren 18 pts
5 Racing Point 17pts