Valtteri Bottas put in a textbook performance to clinch his second race victory of the season in the 2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The Finn looked composed and comfortable throughout a surprisingly incident-free race on Baku City Circuit, his Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton having to settle for second after an initial furious wheel-to-wheel battle between the pair at the start.

Despite being considered to have the much faster car this weekend, Ferrari seemed unable to match the Silver Arrows for race pace. Sebastian Vettel ultimately finished in third ahead of Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, who pulled off a nice bit of damage limitation after his crash in qualifying the previous day.

Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1 W10 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W10 lead at the start of the race.

With three cars required to start the race from pit lane – Robert Kubica, Kimi Raikkonen and Pierre Gasly all sent to the naughty step for various rules infractions over the course of the weekend – it was a somewhat depleted grid of just 17 cars that lined up in the afternoon sunshine of Baku, headed by the two Mercedes cars of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton.

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Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc edged team mate Sebastian Vettel by 0.324s to lead the opening day of free practice in Baku.

The Scuderia pair were never really challenged during Friday’s single session, running comfortably in front of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas while Red Bull’s Max Verstappen ended the day P4, splitting the Silver Arrows pair.

After this morning’s drama, Baku’s crews diligently checked and sealed the over 300 drain covers spread across the track, allowing the F2 qualifying session to unfold without any issues.

That gave teams the thumbs up for FP2 – their first complete practice session of the day.

Before the action got underway, Pirelli’s representatives noted that the late afternoon session was actually the more representative one compared to FP1 as it was set to take place at the same time as qualifying and the race.

Many were those – like Mercedes – who skipped their installation laps to get straight down to business.

While Hamilton set the first benchmark time, it was quickly bettered by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc who put a 1m44.748 on the board.

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