The Baku City Circuit will host the fourth round of the 2019 FIA Formula 1 World Championship this weekend (26 -28 April 2019). This will be the fourth running of the Azerbaijan GP at Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.
The country is situated at the crossroads of Asia and Europe. The very first Grand Prix held here in 2016 was called the Grand Prix of Europe, before it was rebranded as the Azerbaijan GP in 2017. The inaugural race was won by Nico Rosberg for Mercedes.
Baku city is dotted by historic landmarks and is called the “City of Winds”. The race will end the first-leg of flyaway races as the championship returns to Europe with the Spanish Grand Prix in May.
What happened at the Chinese Grand Prix?
Lewis Hamilton won the 2019 Chinese Grand Prix for his second win of the season. Valtteri Bottas finished second as the Silver Arrows clinched the third consecutive 1-2 finish of the season.
The Mercedes duo locked out the front row in qualification with Bottas in pole position. The Ferrari drivers, Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc, started on the second row. The Red Bull Racing drivers, Max Verstappenand Pierre Gasly, lined up on the third row.
Hamilton nosed ahead of team-mate Bottas into Turn 1 and never looked back. Leclerc made a good start to take third position ahead of his team-mate Vettel. The Red Bull drivers and Daniel Ricciardo were behind them. Sergio Perez made a good start to gain four places and move into eighth position on the first lap.
On lap 1 at Turn 6, Daniil Kvyat first steered into Carlos Sainz and then hit his team-mate Lando Norris which dropped both McLaren drivers to the back of the field. The Virtual Safety Car was deployed and Kvyat was given a drive-through penalty.
Hamilton was serenely building a comfortable gap to Bottas in front. Meanwhile, Vettel had closed up to Leclerc and Ferrari team orders were deployed to let Vettel pass him. Leclerc was left out too long in both his stints which saw him finish in fifth position.
Mercedes Dominate F1’s 1000th race
During the second set of pit stops, Mercedes double-stacked their drivers and executed a perfect pit stop. On a dominant day for the Silver Arrows in F1’s 1000th race, Hamilton and Bottas scripted a comfortable 1-2 finish for the team. Vettel joined them on the podium.
Verstappen finished ahead of Leclerc in fourth position. Gasly finished in sixth position and after a late pit stop stole the point for fastest lap on the final lap. Ricciardo finished in seventh-place for his first points of the season. Perez finished in eighth position to score points for the second race in a row.
Kimi Räikkönen again displayed his race craft to finish a creditable ninth for Alfa Romeo Racing. Alexander Albon finished tenth after he started from the pit lane.
What happened in the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix?
The last two races on the tight Baku street circuit have thrown up unexpected results. In 2017, Ricciardo won the race from tenth position as carbon fiber flew all around him and tempers flared. Vettel incurred a penalty after running into Hamilton in anger because he felt the Briton had brake-tested him during a Safety car restart.
The 2018 Grand Prix was no less frantic than the previous year. Vettel was on pole for the third consecutive race of the 2018 season. Title-rival Hamilton joined the German on the front row. Bottas and Ricciardo were on the second row. Verstappen and Raikkonen lined up on the third row.
Then team-mates Verstappen and Ricciardo dueled with each other all race long. On lap 40, the exciting duel between Verstappen and Ricciardo reached its climax. Ricciardo went for an overtake move on the inside and Verstappen held position and the two drivers crashed spectacularly into each other.
Hamilton scores an unlikely win
With the Safety Car deployed with only 11 laps to go, Bottas who had gambled by staying out pitted and emerged in the lead again. Vettel, Hamilton and Raikkonen also pitted and came out behind him.
As the Safety Car period stretched out in the cool conditions, the drivers complained about cold tyres and the lack of grip. Grosjean weaved around behind the Safety Car to keep his tyres warm and crashed into the barriers.
The Safety Car period was further extended as Grosjean’s car was on a part of the track where it was hard to retrieve. The laps wound down and the drivers bunched up in the front behind the SC, all on new tyres.
Finally on lap 48 of the 51 laps, the Safety Car came in. Bottas controlled the restart well. Vettel was determined to overtake Bottas for the win and overcooked his move and ran deep. Bottas, Hamilton and Räikkönen passed him. Vettel had flat-spotted his tyres and was overtaken by Perez.
Bottas ran over some debris on the track which caused a puncture and ended his race. Bottas had driven a well-crafted race and did not deserve the cruel end. Hamilton was now the race leader and clinched one of the most unlikely wins of his career.
Räikkönen had survived the first lap mayhem to finish in second position. Perez also a victim of the first lap melee completed the podium places. This was the Mexican’s second podium finish in three races at Baku.
Vettel finished a disappointing fourth. Sainz was fifth after a strong race. Leclerc, the then rookie driver in a Sauber, finished sixth and was voted the “Driver of the Day”
Source: The Checkered Flag