Valtteri Bottas insists that “everything was under control” with him at the front of the grid following his second victory of the 2019 Formula 1 season at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, despite facing a tough challenge from his team-mate Lewis Hamilton in particular.
The Finn was fastest in qualifying on Saturday and subsequently started in P1 in Baku. In the previous race in China he allowed Hamilton to overtake just a few seconds in, but on this occasion he defended well against the five-time world champion to retain the top spot.
He would surrender P1 to Charles Leclerc for a significant portion of the race, but with the Ferrari man going on a long stint on medium tyres without going in for a pit, the opportunity for Bottas to take back first was always available.
Towards the end at one point, there was around a second between Bottas and Hamilton, but a slight mistake from the latter saw him go wide on a turn, opening up a bigger gap for Bottas to go on and claim the flag.
He insists that he was always in control, even with Hamilton breathing down his neck.
“It was actually a tough race,” he told Sky Sports moments after the victory.
“There was maybe not that much happening up the front. Obviously Lewis was putting pressure on all the time so I couldn’t do any mistakes, but everything was under control and I’m happy to receive the flag and get first place.
“It’s incredible for the team, this kind of level we are performing at now, and I’m so proud to be part of it, we’re all performing really really well and I hope it carries on.”
Mercedes recorded their fourth one-two finish from the first four races, and have now opened up a 74-point lead over Ferrari in the constructor’s championship. Bottas, meanwhile, leads Hamilton by a solitary point.