Azerbaijan F1 Grand Prix 2019 Results: Valtteri Bottas Wins, Leads Championship

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistApril 28, 2019

BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - APRIL 28: Valtteri Bottas driving the (77) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W10 on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan at Baku City Circuit on April 28, 2019 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Valtteri Bottas took the lead in the 2019 Formula One Championship with a win in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday, as Mercedes completed a record fourth straight double to start the season.

Bottas beat out defending world champion Lewis Hamilton, while Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel finished in third place. Red Bull's Max Verstappen took fourth ahead of Charles Leclerc, and Pierre Gasly retired with a mechanical issue. Leclerc earned an extra point with the fastest lap.

The Silver Arrows have dominated the 2019 season so far:

WTF1 @wtf1official

Four Mercedes one-two finishes in a row in 2019 Non-Mercedes fans: https://t.co/BQZgM5AtOG

Here are the race results:

Formula 1 @F1

FINAL CLASSIFICATION: Round 4, Azerbaijan Bottas wins and takes the drivers' championship lead 🏆 #F1 🇦🇿 #AzerbaijanGP https://t.co/ZS4JTzooLc


The Azerbaijan Grand Prix almost started in disaster for Mercedes, as Hamilton and Bottas came close to making contact going into Turn 1. YouTuber Matt Gallagher liked that the Finn didn't back away from his team-mate:

Matt Gallagher @MattyWTF1

Fair play Bottas, getting his elbows out 👏

He soon started lapping at a remarkable pace, going much faster than Hamilton and Vettel. The latter lost tons of ground early, while Verstappen was stuck behind Sergio Perez, who overtook him on the start.

In the background, Leclerc swiftly moved up the field, showing the pace he flashed prior to his crash in qualifying. He soon found himself in the top five and lapping faster than anyone on track despite racing on the medium compound.

He soon passed Verstappen and had Vettel in his sights, while at the front, Hamilton started to gain on Bottas. That left both teams with some big decisions to make regarding track position of their two drivers.

Ferrari in particular were under pressure:

Pablo Elizalde @EliGP

Meanwhile in the Ferrari pitwall. https://t.co/1PKxx5yVYl

The team took no risks, pitting Vettel as soon as Leclerc got on his tail. Mercedes followed suit soon after, pitting Bottas and giving Hamilton space at the front. He had no answers for Leclerc, however, and with the gap getting dangerously close to three seconds, the Silver Arrows ordered him to box as well.

Motorsport writer Luke Smith noted the former Sauber man would likely have fresh soft tyres late in the race, giving him a major advantage:

Luke Smith @LukeSmithF1

Leclerc is FLYING out there! 🚀 Carving time out of Hamilton ahead. Could be in a sensational position late on with a fresh set of Softs... #F1 #AzerbaijanGP

Mercedes responded by increasing their pace, but that meant their medium tyres―which were meant to last―would degrade faster than intended.

The Silver Arrows eventually closed the gap to Leclerc, who made his initial tyres last. Bottas used DRS to make the pass, followed by Hamilton, and Ferrari kept the Monegasque out on track, opting to play it safe with the soft tyres late.

Further back, Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat both ended up in the run-off area after a near-crash. The Australian then backed into the Russian:

Autosport Live @autosportlive

Kvyat and Ricciardo didn't make any contact in the initial incident - Kvyat simply couldn't turn with the Renault sliding off on his inside. But Ricciardo then reversed into Kvyat quite heavily as both tried to turn in the escape road. #F1

Gasly also had issues, abandoning the race. He parked his car on an exit road, bringing out the Virtual Safety Car. Hamilton and Vettel had the best pace once the race was back on, and with just a few laps left, the defending world champion got into DRS range.

Bottas also got the DRS thanks to George Russell, however, and even added a fastest lap, although Leclerc outdid him soon after on the fresher tyres.

The Finn will start the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya as the championship leader May 12.