Rate the Race and Driver of The weekend. Round 4,
Baku City, Azerbaijan, 2019
Mean Reader score: 4.53 7.91 Ranked 3 out of 4 races so far this season.
This year’s score of 4.53 was nowhere near 2018’s score of 7.91 , or 2017’s score of 8.74. In fact it is marginally lower than 2016’s inaugural score of 4.78.
This venue may have had the practice sessions providing more entertainment than the race itself. The practice sessions (for all the wrong reasons) were more eventful, as with Russell’s Williams being a) destroyed by a loose manhole cover and then b) sprayed with hydraulic fluid after the recovery vehicle hit a bridge free practice certainly seemed to be more interesting.
As if that wasn’t enough to be going on with two marshals were run over in GP2 and when FP2 got going, Kvyat and Stroll crashed. What would the race itself hold? Not much, as it happened: The start was clean, with no major carnage, allowing Bottas to maintain pole position, ahead of team mate Hamilton.
Hamilton challenged strongly, but failed to take the lead position, supplying possibly the best racing of the GP. It lasted all of three turns, by which time the race was over and the podium positions secured.
Vettel came third, Verstappen fourth and the new wonderkid, Leclerc came in fifth, which mirrored the driver standings at the end of four GPs this season.
Perez got a good start, (overtaking Verstappen) as did Ricciardo (overtaking Leclerc). Grosjean locked up and headed into a side road, allowing Ricciardo and Raikkonen easy overtakes.
Half a dozen laps later it was Ricciardo who locked up and headed down a side road, this time he took the Toro Rosso of ‘The Torpedo’ (Kvyat) with him, as he reversed into Kvyat when trying to get out of the slip road, causing a yellow flag to be activated. Woops.
Both later retired along with Grosjean and Gasly. Mercedes drivers had another go at altering the finishing line up but made it their fourth 1-2 finish this season.
Driver of The weekend: Valteri Bottas 38.24% of reader vote.
Having pipped team mate Hamilton to pole position (after sandbagging through what was available of free practice), the Mercedes locked out the front row.
Bottas made a better start than last time out in China and gave us some good wheel to wheel racing at the start to stay ahead of his team mate. Bottas stayed out in front of the race and took the chequered flag, not putting a foot wrong throughout.
For the second time this season (and for three races) he leads the WDC standings, one vital point ahead of his team mate.
Could this be Bottas’ year? Well, we’ll just have to wait and see… Well done Valteri!!