Despite Scuderia Ferrari having dominated the Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend all through free practice, Mercedes-AMG Motorsport locked out the front row of the grid for Sunday’s race, with Valtteri Bottas claimed an eighth career pole position ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
Bottas was proud of the team for working hard to close the gap to Ferrari, who looked out of reach of everyone at times across the weekend, but when it mattered it was Mercedes and Bottas who snatched top spot.
“This pole feels really good, the entire team did a great job today,” said Bottas. “We saw early on in the Qualifying that the Ferraris were very quick, as they were all weekend, but by the time we got to Q3 we were able to extract the maximum from our car and the tyres.
“As the track was evolving and cooling down, our car was behaving better and better, so it was good that it all came together when it really counted.”
It is Bottas’ second consecutive pole in 2019 after doing the same in the Chinese Grand Prix two weeks ago, but he knows anything can happen on race day, particularly after he lost the lead to team-mate Hamilton at the start and was forced to settle for second at the Shanghai International Circuit.
He also looks back at the recent history of the races in Baku, with punctures in both 2017 and 2018 heavily affecting his results, with last year’s one ending his afternoon just three laps from the end whilst in the lead of the race.
“It’s nice to start from the front, but nothing is done yet – tomorrow is what counts,” said the Finn. “As we’ve seen in the past, anything can happen around this track, so staying out of trouble is going to be important.
“Race pace is going to be crucial as well as it is relatively easy to overtake on this track. I think it’s going to be an exciting race tomorrow, the top teams all looked very close on long run pace, so it should be fun.
“I have a bit of unfinished business here in Baku from last year, so I’ll give my best tomorrow.”