Bottas wary of Azerbaijan F1 circuit's unpredictability, Raikkonen loses P8
Finnish Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen of Alfa Romeo Racing (L) walks through the paddock ahead of the 2019 Formula One Grand Prix of Azerbaijan at the Baku City Circuit in Baku, Azerbaijan, Apr. 28, 2019. EPA/VALDRIN XHEMAJ
Finnish Formula One driver Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes AMG GP in action during the qualifying session for the 2019 Formula One Grand Prix of Azerbaijan at the Baku City Circuit in Baku, Azerbaijan, Apr. 27, 2019. EPA/VALDRIN XHEMAJ
Monaco's Formula One driver Charles Leclerc of Scuderia Ferrari walks through the paddock ahead of the 2019 Formula One Grand Prix of Azerbaijan at the Baku City Circuit in Baku, Azerbaijan, Apr. 28, 2019. EPA/VALDRIN XHEMAJ
Former Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone gestures at the paddock ahead of the 2019 Formula One Grand Prix of Azerbaijan at the Baku City Circuit in Baku, Azerbaijan, Apr. 28, 2019. EPA/VALDRIN XHEMAJ
Baku, Apr 28 (efe-epa).- Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas, who best took advantage of the conditions while qualifying for the Azerbaijan Formula One Grand Prix, will need to make a perfect start to the race if he is to protect his pole position from his predatory teammate Lewis Hamilton and convert it into a win on Sunday.
While the previous F1 race in China two weeks ago had given Bottas his second successive pole position this season, he made a slower start than 2nd-placed Hamilton and it was his fellow Silver Arrows driver who won his second consecutive race, leapfrogging the Finn to head the standings.
Bottas is aware of the variability of the Baku street circuit, where only one in three poll-sitters has been able to convert the best grid position into a race victory.
“It’s a very unpredictable race, but we are very happy starting one-two as a team,” Bottas said. “We have a strong car for the race but here anything can happen, it’s a very eventful race,” he added.
“Many unpredictable things can happen, so we need to keep the focus as a team and also, for me, as a driver, focusing corner by corner.”
Meanwhile, F1 announced Sunday that Alfa Romeo driver Kimi Raikkonen had been disqualified from the eighth place on the grid he had secured in qualifying on Saturday after it was found that the front wing on his race car had failed a post-session test.
The decision means that Raikkonen will now have to start the race from the pit lane, where Pierre Gasly and Robert Kubica will also have to begin from.
"The Stewards find that the front wing of car 7 (Raikkonen's) deflected more than 5mm under a load of 60 Newtons," said a statement from the race organizers.
The front wings on a modern race car are allowed to have some flexibility, but for reasons that were not clear, Raikkonen’s did not meet the requirements.
While Bottas out-qualified Hamilton in Baku for the first time in his career, he has painful memories of the circuit’s cruel unpredictability.
Last year he was in the lead during the closing stages of the race only to suffer a last-minute puncture that took him out.
He said that in some races securing poll position felt like having achieved 50 percent of the work needed for a win.
“Here it’s nowhere near 50 percent and anything can happen, as we’ve seen,” said Bottas.