Valtteri Bottas praised the Mercedes AMG Motorsport Formula 1 team for its efforts at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, a race that marked the team’s record-breaking fourth 1-2 finish in as many races in 2019.
Bottas claimed his second win of the season, ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton, at the Baku City Circuit, ensuring that the Finn became the first driver to win a race from pole position this season.
The 29-year-old enjoyed a race-long fight with Hamilton at the head of the field, leaving Mercedes to beat ROKiT Williams Racing‘s previous record of three 1-2 finishes to the start a season – set in 1992 with Nigel Mansell and Riccardo Patrese.
With Hamilton starting in second, the first corner of the first lap resulted in the pair almost coming together – Bottas very close to hitting the wall on the outside of Turns 1 and 2.
However, Bottas praised Hamilton for a “respectful” fight at the start and spoke of his relief in avoiding the startline mistake that cost him a potential victory in China two weeks’ ago.
“This victory feels really good,” said Bottas, who lost victory at this race 12 months ago due to a late puncture.
“When you’re starting from pole, you hope for a straightforward race – the less drama, the better it is.
“I didn’t have the greatest start; after the wheelspin in China I was maybe just a little too cautious. Lewis had a better start so we went side-by-side into Turn 1 and 2.
“It was good, respectful racing between the two of us and I’m glad I could pull up in front of him.
“Lewis was very quick today and was able to put on some pressure at the end of the race, so I had to make sure to not make any mistakes.”
Five-time F1 race winner Bottas heaped most of his praise on the Mercedes team, with few expecting such a dominant performance over Scuderia Ferrari at this circuit after Charles Leclerc headed all three Free Practice sessions in the Azeri capital.
Bottas stressed the need for Mercedes to continue in this vein of form in order to take a record-equalling sixth consecutive Constructors’ Championship.
Mercedes now holds a commanding 74 point lead over Ferrari heading into the traditional start to the European season.
“I’ve already said it on the radio after the race: ‘What a team’,” Bottas added.
“The level at which everyone is performing at the moment is very impressive, both here at the track and back at the factory, and I’m really proud of everyone.
“We need to make sure we keep delivering at this level.”