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Bottas: Baku win payback for 2018 loss

  • Published on 29 Apr 2019 11:11
  • comments 0
  • By: Fergal Walsh

Valtteri Bottas says winning the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday was payback for missing out on the victory 12 months ago.

The Finn was on course to take the chequered flag at the 2018 edition, but a puncture in the final laps put him out of the race, gifting the win to teammate Lewis Hamilton.

However this time around, Bottas held off Hamilton at the opening and closing stages of the race to take his second victory in four races, and reclaim the lead in the drivers' championship.

“It was a tough race, even though there wasn’t much going on at the front,” Bottas said.

“Lewis was putting pressure on all the time, so I couldn’t make any mistakes but, honestly, everything was under control, so I’m happy to see the chequered flag and get this first place.

“It means a lot to win. It’s incredible the level we’re performing as a team, that’s why I was just saying at the guys I’m so proud to be part of that.

“We’re all performing really, really well. For me as well it’s only my fifth win and it feels good and pays back from last year.”

The start 'crucial' for race outcome

Bottas highlighted that the start was the crucial point in the race, as he managed to fend off an attack from Hamilton, despite the Briton having the better start off the line.

“It’s never easy to have Lewis attacking flat out behind," he admitted. "The main thing for me was to focus on my own doing and not going for the silly mistakes, trying to push too hard and I managed to keep it together.

“I think the start was the most critical point, I think Lewis had a better getaway from the line. I was perhaps too cautious off the line, just tried to prevent any wheelspin or anything, so then I had to defend a bit into Turn 1 and Turn 2, but it was nice and clean and fair, and I enjoyed that.

“I was all the time aware of the gap to Lewis, and I could sometimes see him pushing really hard, and sometimes saving a bit. That’s how it goes.

"With the blue-flagged cars, sometimes you lose a lot, sometimes you get some help which is always welcome. So thanks to George [Russell], I’m happy to buy him a pint of beer!”

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