Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team had another weekend to forget after walking away from the Azerbaijan Grand Prix with no points.
The weekend for Valtteri Bottas just never got going. He was constantly on the back foot during practice and could only get a qualifying lap which saw him start tenth on the grid. Come race day, Bottas found himself stuck behind Lando Norris for the majority of the race, not having the power to overtake the McLaren F1 Team car on the straights.
It went from bad to worse when his car tumbled down the grid towards the latter stages and was at one point in fourteenth. When the race restarted after the red flag due to a tyre issue on Max Verstappen’s car, Bottas wasn’t able to charge the lap on the two-lap sprint, eventually crossing the line in twelfth.
Bottas said: “Today in the race I was lacking pace, as I have been all weekend and it’s difficult to understand why. One big issue is the tyre warm-up, particularly the front tyres.
“On the hard tyres, it took almost ten laps to warm up and on the restart, we were on the back foot with cold tyres. I was trying everything I could but something just wasn’t right with the car for me this weekend. We need to work hard to figure out why and move on quickly from this.”
“A humbling experience and I’m so sorry for the team” – Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton lost his fifty-four-race points streak when he was the last car to cross the line in Baku.
Like Bottas, Hamilton hadn’t been having the best of times during the practice sessions but was able to redeem himself when he qualified in second. He jumped Charles Leclerc for the race lead and looked very comfortable. All went wrong during a pit stop. Hamilton had to wait a couple of seconds longer due to other cars coming in and out of the pit lane, meaning his pit time was nearly five seconds.
By the time he came out of the pit, Verstappen and Sergio Pérez had managed to get out front to claim first and second respectively. Hamilton was never able to catch up and it looked as if he was going to have to settle for third. His race got a boost when Verstappen was forced to retire but not the race restart, he accidentally switched his brakes off, meaning he went flying into the runoff area at Turn one. He was able to rejoin the track, albeit at the back.
“An unfortunate day, a humbling experience and I’m so sorry for the team. We did a good job to be in the position we were in today, to be out of the top ten on Friday and come back was down to the hard work of the men and women in this team. When Checo came towards me after the restart, I turned the wheel and flicked a switch which shifts the brake balance and that caused me to lock up.” said Hamilton.
“It’s one of the toughest moments I’ve had for a while – one moment we had all the points and the next we had none but for sure, we’ll regroup and come back.”