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Bottas determined to bury Baku misery with victory

29 April 2019

That gifted victory to his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton who on Saturday wound up second behind him after a closely-fought final session.

When they qualified on the front row, Hamilton said he and Bottas talked over "like gentlemen" how best to fight for the lead without risking a collision or handing Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel an overtaking opportunity.

The two-lap VSC also helped Bottas by giving him an extra one second over his pursuers, presumably as it ended in a favourable position for the leader.

From there, a victory was always going to be tough if there was not a safety auto to even things out.

There are still 17 races to go in this Formula 1 season, but already it is hard to see how Ferrari can make a fight of the championship.

Elsewhere Max Verstappen will start fourth for Red Bull while Racing Point's Sergio Perez, a two-time podium finisher in Baku, will start fifth ahead of Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat.

Just 13 minutes into Friday's on-track running, Williams driver George Russell's auto was badly damaged by a loose drain cover on the Baku street circuit.

With limited time to test setups ahead of Saturday's qualifying, teams flocked onto the circuit in the second session, but it too was disrupted.

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A dry contest decided largely by pit strategy and auto setups, there were few incidents of note after Bottas fended off Hamilton into the second corner. He was enjoying the better pace of the two Ferraris, as he had displayed earlier in the weekend and with his medium tyres clearly working better than the softs. Kvyat, meanwhile, was philosophical about what happened, despite losing a solid chance to score points for the second time this season.

"I got the biggest smack through my body, and the whole engine turned off", Russell said.

"That will be how it continues for the rest of the year", he said.

A driver is automatically banned for one race if they accumulate 12 points over a 12-month period - these Baku points are the only blots on Ricciardo's record. "I was just going down the straight on my normal line", Russell told Sky Sports.

"It's always tight into three but initially I thought I was going to pull it off, then I felt I was going to start to lock and then miss the corner".

"At the time it was looking quite good for us, we were just starting to pick up the pace and obviously closing on Dany".

"I'd just like to be really categorical about it: Williams is not for sale".

Bottas determined to bury Baku misery with victory