Bottas leads Mercedes sweep of Baku front row after Leclerc crashes

2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix qualifying

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Mercedes locked out the front row of the grid for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after practice pace-setter Charles Leclerc crashed out during qualifying.

Leclerc’s demise in the second round of qualifying left Sebastian Vettel as the team’s only representative running in the top 10 shoot-out. He was unable to stop Valtteri Bottas claiming his second pole position of the season, followed by Lewis Hamilton.


Pierre Gasly was the surprise name on top of the times at the end of the first stage of qualifying. The Red Bull driver, who will start the race from the pit lane, set the quickest time in sector one and picked up a huge slipstream from Lance Stroll’s Racing Point at the end of the lap to lead Q1.

That displaced practice pace-setter Charles Leclerc from the top of the times. Lewis Hamilton was second-fastest, signalling Mercedes’ potential by getting within three-tenths of a second of the Ferrari.

The fight to escape the bottom five was as fraught as ever and it was decided when one of the contestants, Robert Kubica, hit the wall. The Williams driver got very greedy with the entry kerb at turn eight, clipped the wall, and made heavy contact with the barrier on the outside. It left Williams with another car to repair, assuming they have sufficient spares after George Russell’s drain cover strike yesterday.

Kubica hit the wall just as Daniel Ricciardo was crossing the line to complete a lap which lifted him out of the bottom five and into Q2. That was bad news for Stroll, who slipped into Q1 and was eliminated in the first round for the fourth time in as many races.

Ricciardo was the only Renault to reach Q2 as Nico Hulkenberg also dropped out in the first round. Romain Grosjean, who also completed his final lap moments before the red flag appeared, failed to make the cut too.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16Lance StrollRacing Point-Mercedes1’42.630
17Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’43.407
18Nico HulkenbergRenault1’43.427
19George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’45.062
20Robert KubicaWilliams-Mercedes1’45.455

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The marshals at turn eight worked quickly to repair the barrier Kubica destroyed, but it still took around 20 minutes before Q2 could be started.

When it did, only Ferrari sent their drivers out on medium tyres at the start of Q2. It was a decision they swiftly regretted.

Turn eight proved the danger zone again. Vettel had a big twitch as he turned into the old city, but caught it and kept his car out of the barriers. His team mate didn’t get away with it: He locked, up and thumped the barrier nose first.

“I’m stupid, I’m stupid, I’m stupid,” he cursed on the radio. “No problem,” his engineer replied. “We’ll put it together for tomorrow.”

The session was red-flagged with seven-and-a-half minutes still on the clock. Once it resumed, Leclerc’s medium-tyre time proved quick enough to secure him a place in Q3.

Among those who were unable to beat him time were Kevin Magnussen and Ricciardo, whose team mates had gone out in Q1. Gasly did not set a time, meaning he will be able to start the race on new tyres.

Both Toro Rosso drivers clipped the walls but only one of them – Daniil Kvyat – made it into Q3. He left team mate Alexander Albon behind, WHile Lando Norris did the same with respect to McLaren team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Carlos Sainz JnrMcLaren-Renault1’42.398
12Daniel RicciardoRenault1’42.477
13Alexander AlbonToro Rosso-Honda1’42.494
14Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’42.699
15Pierre GaslyRed Bull-HondaNo time

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The final round of Q3 began with just nine out of 10 drivers running. With Ferrari compromised, Mercedes seized the opportunity to pounce.

Hamilton led the way initially, moving to the head of the times with his first run. By now the session had been running for almost an hour longer than planned, and while the track surface was offering more grip it was also cooling, making gains harder to find.

Vettel didn’t involved himself in the hectic tussle for track position on the final run. That appeared to pay off at first as he mounted a competitive run through the opening sectors, but at the run to the flag he fell short of Hamilton’s time.

Worse was to come for the Ferrari driver. Bottas, aided by the slipstream of cars ahead of him on the run to the finishing line, leapt into the top spot with his final run. Hamilton might have beaten his team mate too, but ended up five-hundredths shy after losing almost three-tenths of a second in the first sector alone.

Verstappen slotted in fourth while Sergio Perez sustained his reputation as a master of Baku by putting his Racing Point in fifth position ahead of Kvyat and Norris.

Antonio Giovinazzi out-qualified his Alfa Romeo team mate Kimi Raikkonen, but his 10-placegrid penalty will drop him to the back of the field.

It will also promote Leclerc to ninth on the grid, though he more than anyone knows he had the chance to start eight places higher.

Top ten in Q3

1Valtteri BottasMercedes1’40.495
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’40.554
3Sebastian VettelFerrari1’40.797
4Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’41.069
5Sergio PerezRacing Point-Mercedes1’41.593
6Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Honda1’41.681
7Lando NorrisMcLaren-Renault1’41.886
8Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’42.424
9Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’43.068
10Charles LeclercFerrariNo time

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2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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112 comments on “Bottas leads Mercedes sweep of Baku front row after Leclerc crashes”

  1. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone crashes into the techPro barrier at T8 tomorrow as well. I hope not, but Baku is Baku.

    1. They need to paint a big arrow on it pointing the way to go ;)

  2. What has struck me the most about the entire interesting and entertaining session is the gap between Perez and Stroll even though Stroll had no major incidents or problems.
    It is just getting embarrassing isn’t it?

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      27th April 2019, 16:36

      To be fair, if you compare just Q1, the gap was 0.381. Of the 9 drivers that took part in Q3, 7 of them were quicker than they were in Q1. And also, all of these drivers were over half a second quicker, with a few of them being way over a second faster. So the time difference certainly isn’t representative. Stroll’s problem is getting one together at the right time. But I think he was unfortunate in the first race or two if i am correct. At least he beat Hulkebberg who Perez think’s Stroll is better at with qualifying anyway ;)

      1. Got to agree with @nullapax here. Stroll got a proper beating at the hands of Perez again.

        Since when does 4 tenths of a second become ‘just’ ? His teammate is in P5 and he’s in P16. If it wasn’t for the Gio train Australia, he would have been out of the points, and out of Q1, for 4 races in a row. I don’t know how people here think he’s not doing a bad job. Personally, I think he’s been the slowest driver on the grid for the past 2 seasons and 3 races… and we shall continue to see him get outpaced by his teammate, regardless of who his teammate is.

        At least he beat Hulkebberg who Perez think’s Stroll is better at with qualifying anyway ;)

        Aaah..The things you do for the boss’ son.

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          27th April 2019, 17:52

          I wasn’t saying he hasn’t done a bad job. But the margin time wise is isn’t quite as massive as the post i replied to was making it look. I@m not saying he’s doing a good job. If you are saying there was an excuse for him being good in Australia, then he was very unlucky in qualifying and could well have been higher up, and in that case, may well have finished in a similar position anyway. But we don’t know. I would say he’s one of the weakest on the grid, certainly in qualifying. But I think his race pace often does look reasonable. I certainly think that giovinassi, kubica and maybe 1 or 2 others are not exactly looking better than him so far this season.

        2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          27th April 2019, 18:02

          I also may as well question where you are reading that i’m saying that the gap was “just” 0.381. I never said that or implied that it was marginal. I just said it wasn’t that huge given the comments. The gap position wise is obviously huge. But that was significantly bigger because almost everyone was a lot faster in the final qualifying session compared to Q1

      2. True enough, but it still looks bad and gives fuel to the anti Lance crowd.
        That isn’t to say I am a fan of Lance but I do honestly think he is taking a seat he hasn’t really earned.
        It struck me today how much better it might be if Ricciardo and him had swapped places. Racing Point might have two cars in the top 10 and Lance would still be pretty much where he is anyway?

    2. though Stroll had no major incidents or problems

      He had a problem with his visor fogging up. Given the glare from the low sun I’d call that a major problem.

      1. I’d call that a lame excuse

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          27th April 2019, 18:36

          If this is actually true that it started to fog up and the sun was as low as it was, then as martin says, that is a pretty big problem. If it didn’t fog up much at all, then maybe that is a bit much to use as an excuse. But Sky mentioned this and I think that was a good reason to be cautious if that is what effected his time a bit.

          1. So you’re saying Stroll has some special visor.. Completely different from everyone else on the grid.. That’s why he’s the only one who faced this problem?

          2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
            27th April 2019, 21:12

            I’m no expert in this, but these things are probably complex enough that they can have problems sometimes. Therefore, stroll could well have been the only one with the issue. The team would not have mentioned it if it was not different to normal.

            This is an area where i don’t know much admittedly, but I would have thought that visors would often steam up when the temperature is cooler outside, which it was. But maybe the visors have some way of keeping clear and Stroll’s failed. I think that is likely the reason for it steaming up, but I don’t know. If this happened to others, there is no doubt at all they would have mentioned it.

            Others will probably be able to give a much better explanation about helmets and visors as i was only guessing what may be the case.

          3. So you’re saying Stroll has some special visor..

            So you are saying it is impossible for anything ever to have a fault?

            SMH I don’t think i’ve Seen a more ridiculous post on this site.

  3. *Says they can’t find 7 tenths in one night*, puts the car on provisional pole by 4 tenths and locks out the front row by 2 tenths.

    1. Driver factor. They just know how to do setup work and put a car which by itself is barely faster than Williams ahead of the MMighty unusual-pace Ferraris.

      1. Pedro Andrade
        27th April 2019, 17:00

        Agree, without drivers a Mercedes is barely faster than Williams anyway, as they are really not going anywhere

  4. Stunning lap from Perez, wow!

    Props for Mercedes for being able to hide their potential so well for the causal fans

    1. Props for Mercedes for being able to hide their potential so well for the causal fans

      Amazing how people still fall for this every time.

      Granted, Leclerc might have been close without his crash, but Mercedes went from being 1s slower than Vettel in FP3 to 3 tenths quicker in Q3.

      1. Tbh I was expecting a mixed top 4, no front row lockout by neither top teams.

        They were 2.5 seconds off of the fastest Ferrari in Q3!
        In fact I feel if they weren’t sandbagging throughout the weekend by this degree, the drivers would have even been able to extract more!

      2. F1oSaurus (@)
        27th April 2019, 17:24

        @kingshark Or Vettel went from being one second faster to 3 tenths slower. Vettel was already performing very poorly in Q2. Even incapable of making it through on the medium tyres and barely faster on soft tyres than Leclerc on medium.

        Could have been due to colder temperatures, but still. Apart from crashing his car, Leclerc still seemed to have the pace.

        1. @f1osaurus
          The exact same thing happened in China. Ferrari look fastest in practice and then Mercedes goes 3 tenths quicker than both Ferrari drivers in Q3

          This has nothing to do with drivers skill. Mercedes has the best car by a very comfortable margin and they are just sandbagging/hiding it in practice, and the average F1 fan seemingly falls for it every weekend.

          1. @kingshark Mercedes will probably break all f1 records this season and still by Abu Dhabi FP2 we will be discussing how ferrari is the fastest car of all.

          2. Bahrain? Face it Ferrari’s car is just as good if not better than Merc’s. It is just Ferrari (and particularly Vettel) who are failing to get the best out of it

          3. F1oSaurus (@)
            27th April 2019, 21:44

            @kingshark Sure just keep telling yourself that.

            Truth is that Vettel was getting blown away by Leclerc too.

          4. @kingshark it’s no use, man. The only way people would be saying Mercedes is the best car by miles would be if Vettel drove for them.

          5. @f1osaurus
            Leclerc put it in the wall and didn’t set a competitive laptime in Q3. The rest is speculation.

          6. F1oSaurus (@)
            28th April 2019, 9:00

            @kingshark It’s not speculation when Vettel informs us of a whole list of things he wish he’d done better or different and that he wasn’t able to handle the car due to the temperature change.

            Vettel admitted that he performed poorly in qualifying.

          7. Why would Merc be ‘sandbagging’? Well, unless you’re the sort of racist nutjob who thinks there’s some grand conspiracy to make Hamilton look good…

            Mercedes are simply carrying out their practice program. The real question is why Ferrari seem to need to do faster practice runs, when Merc don’t find them useful.

          8. @f1osaurus
            Race pace basically confirmed my suspicion that Mercedes is just a dominant car, nothing more.

          9. F1oSaurus (@)
            28th April 2019, 17:14

            @kingshark Leclerc got the fastest lap you mean?

            But sure, keep pretending that Ferrari didn’t mess this race up yet again. If that helps you idolizxe your underperforming idol then by all means man. It must be hard rooting for Vettel the last two seasons and this one again. I feel sorry for you man. Although I also enjoy how riled up you get too though.

          10. @f1osaurus
            Leclerc pitted on the penultimate lap for fresh tyres. Do you not understand this sport?

            Leclerc messed up his own race on Saturday, and Ferrari was too slow on Sunday.

            The rest of your post is pitiful ad hominems not worth responding to, because you are not intelligent enough to make an actual argument.

          11. F1oSaurus (@)
            28th April 2019, 20:23

            @kingshark Yes I’m ridiculing you since you are the one looking for race pace in a race where Ferrari’s #1 driver was bumbling around underperforming in front and their fastest driver was sacrificed to help their bumbling #1 driver. So what is that going to say?

            Leclerc was on a 2-stop race and they turned it into a 1-stop race sacrificing Leclerc to hold up Bottas/Hamilton just so Vettel could get close. It’s disgusting how Ferrari keep doing that. Leclerc was unhappy with this switch, but the poor kid swallowed his pried again and said that he would ask the team to show the date how this horrible strategy which they gave him was supposed to be faster.

            Sure Ferrari were thought to be a tad slower on Sunday, but they were clearly faster on Saturday. If they hadn’t messed up qualifying then they wold have started from the front row. It would have been a completely different race then and Mercedes surely would not have gotten a 1-2 or even won the race.

            And yes I blame Ferrari mostly for the Leclerc crash too. There was no need to send Leclerc out for another lap on medium tyres as he was fast enough already. Plus he should never have been on medium tyres in Q2.

            What do you mean ad hominem? I’m truly feeling sorry for you. It must be immensely hard to see you idol fail so miserably again this season. Especially after he was performing so poorly already over the two season’s before. Or 2014! Wow that must have been even harder to swallow.

          12. @f1osaurus
            1. There was nothing wrong with Leclerc’s strategy. Gasly was on the exact same strategy as Leclerc and made it work just fine. In fact, Gasly’s laptimes towards the end of his stint were quicker than Leclerc.

            2. Leclerc’s fault for crashing in qualifying. Vettel was on the same strategy and he didn’t crash.

            3. You still have zero evidence to show that Ferrari was quicker on Saturday. There is no evidence. Also, Mercedes was not driven at anywhere near it’s full potential, as Hamilton was yet again outperformed by the Finnish Eddie Irvine.

          13. F1oSaurus (@)
            29th April 2019, 16:35


            1) Lecerc started out on a 2-stop strategy which got converted to a 1-stop. If he had known up front he would have been taking it easier on the tyres.
            2) Vettel didn’t crash (for a change), but he was too slow.
            3) There is ample evidence that they Leclerc was between 3 and 5 tenths quicker than Vettel.
            4) Even Bottas is a better driver than Vettel.

        2. @f1osaurus, I would agree that, to some extent, at least some of that deficit seems to be down to Vettel performing poorly over a single lap.

          When you look at Q1, Leclerc’s best lap was six tenths faster than that of Vettel, and even Leclerc’s second fastest time during that session – a 1m41.75s lap – was still three tenths faster than what Vettel could manage.

          Similarly, as you note, in Q2 Vettel was struggling to match Leclerc’s lap on the medium tyres – his first attempt on those softs was still three tenths adrift of Leclerc’s best time, and he only narrowly improved on Leclerc’s time with his second run: on the medium tyres, meanwhile, he was 1.4 seconds off Leclerc’s pace (part of that was, admittedly driver error, but does emphasise that Vettel wasn’t comfortable with his car).

          Now, there seems to be a meme here that automatically assumes that Mercedes must be faster, but I would agree with you that it is reasonable to ask whether Vettel was really getting the most out of his car in qualifying. With the fairly consistent deficit that Vettel had to Leclerc throughout the whole of qualifying up until Leclerc’s crash, I’d argue that he probably wasn’t and that it probably would have looked a lot closer with Leclerc in the mix.

          1. F1oSaurus (@)
            27th April 2019, 21:45

            anon, Yes, unfortunately we’ll never know since Leclerc goofed and couldn’t finish what looked like an utter humiliation of Vettel again.

          2. A thing we aren’t considering is that Vettel is a proven great qualifier. The fact that Leclerc performed better until his crash doesn’t change that because, in the end, VET leads the qualifying battle by 3×1.

            Given what ppl say about the tow, his 0.3 deficit could easily swing. However, the stellar lap Bottas pulled (without the tow!) corroborates something everyone seems to be trying to overlook by all means: Mercedes is simply faster.

          3. F1oSaurus (@)
            28th April 2019, 9:03

            @niefer How about you try to stick to the facts?

            Bottas DID have a tow.

            Vettel gambled that he wouldn’t need a tow and passed the two cars ahead of him. A decision which he later lamented.

            Plus Vettel stated that he had issues driving the car due to the temperature drop.

          4. Yes, let’s stick to the facts, @f1osaurus :
            The pole lap footage does not show any towing at all, but you are welcome to point out the exact factual time where we can see any kind of towing at that 2.2km long empty lane.

            Whatever Vettel has had gambled, the fact remains that his time ended among the supposedly towing zone, which means he could’ve been amongst the Mercedes, something that corroborates what I said so far: Vettel is a great qualifier, but without the tow, he couldn’t keep up with a silver car that hadn’t the aid and still got pole.

          5. …he couldn’t keep up with a silver car that hadn’t the aid and still got pole.

            that did not have the aid, of course.

          6. F1oSaurus (@)
            28th April 2019, 17:12


            The pole lap footage does not show any towing at all

            You really should invest in some glasses then. Or listen to Bottas who said he got a good tow.

            Not sure what your point with your Vettel rant is, but is Vettel clearly had the fastest cart and he got played and was beaten. Again.

          7. @f1osaurus
            Care to share BOT’s quote, or show at the footage where the towing is?

            The point is lapping, slower before the definite lap doesn’t mean he can’t put it out.
            Everyone is taking a great qualifier for granted, and that’s just plain wrong, not to say stupid.

            Vettel clearly had the fastest cart and he got played and was beaten. Again.

            Now, what is your point with that rant? Being beaten does not disprove his standout qualifying ability. Saying Ferrari was clearly the fastest after all we’ve seen so far is laughable.

          8. edit: The point is, lapping slower before the definite lap doesn’t mean he can’t put it out.

          9. F1oSaurus (@)
            28th April 2019, 19:18

            @niefer Geez don’t you have on your webbrowser?

            VB: Well, it’s all about small margins and I did get a good tow in the last lap.

            Well Leclerc was about half a second faster than Vettel (until he crashed) and Vettel opted not to take the 3 tenths of a second tow benefit (which in turn Bottas got). So yes, Ferrari clearly had the faster car, but they messed it all up again.

          10. @f1osaurus
            Ppl saying the tow benefit was around 0.3, and you say Ferrari was indeed the faster car with a lap with the deficit of exactly 0.302? You say it’s on par, that’d be fine. Yet it isn’t faster. Nevertheless, LEC hasn’t had the chance to prove it, since you trust him so much.

            I stand corrected about BOT’s tow. However, I’d say HAM benefited with a better tow by BOT than BOT by SAI, given the relative proximity. Had him putted a fine 1st sector, the margin would be bigger, and your leg to stand on (the towing VET hadn’t got) would be gone as well.

          11. F1oSaurus (@)
            28th April 2019, 20:01

            @niefer Yes since Leclerc was several tenths faster than Vettel. Vettel underperforming does not make the car itself slower.

            Hamilton was too close to Bottas, because Bottas suddenly slowed before the start of their hot lap to create a bigger gap to the car in front. That cause Hamilton’s car to lose downforce and therefore he was slower in the first part of the track.

          12. @f1osaurus

            Yes since Leclerc was several tenths faster than Vettel. Vettel underperforming does not make the car itself slower.

            Just as Mercedes cruising several seconds slower than Ferrari at FPs does not make the reds the better car. The Q3 is what counts, and it’s Mercedes 3-1 Ferrari & Vettel 3-1 Leclerc.

            Hamilton was too close to Bottas, because Bottas suddenly slowed before the start of their hot lap to create a bigger gap to the car in front. That cause Hamilton’s car to lose downforce and therefore he was slower in the first part of the track.

            Exactly: had it all came together, HAM would be pole, the margin would be even bigger, and no tow would change that.

          13. F1oSaurus (@)
            28th April 2019, 20:28

            @niefer Well Ferrari and their dumb strategy put Leclerc at ridiculous risk. He was clearly by far their fastest driver.

            In Q2 Vettel just could not go any faster. He was well down on Leclerc and both were trying their hardest. So we have a fixed point showing Vettel was just not up to par in qualifying.

            Had it all come together. Lelcerc would have gotten a tow from someone (like Bottas did) Vettel would have gotten a tow from Leclerc. Hamilton and Bottas would be sort of where they were. Hamilton perhaps a few tenths up yes.

            So perhaps Hamilton would still have gotten ahead of Vettel, but Leclerc would certainly have gotten pole.

        3. 1) Lecerc started out on a 2-stop strategy which got converted to a 1-stop. If he had known up front he would have been taking it easier on the tyres.

          Provide evidence for this claim.

          Vettel made the one stop strategy work just fine.

          2) Vettel didn’t crash (for a change), but he was too slow.

          His race pace was better than Leclerc

          3) There is ample evidence that they Leclerc was between 3 and 5 tenths quicker than Vettel.

          But he crashed, that’s the point. Stop making excuses. He also never competed in Q3, so there is no way of proving if his speed advantage would have been maintained in colder conditions.

          4) Even Bottas is a better driver than Vettel.

          Irvine level driver at best. He was outperformed by Maldonado in his rookie season.

  5. Mercedes gained a full second from Q2 to Q3

    Their party mode is strong as ever

    1. F1oSaurus (@)
      27th April 2019, 17:16

      @anunaki Same for Vettel.

      1. @f1osaurus Vettel had a pretty bad run in Q2 and did a “safe” run after the red flag to get on to Q3 without risk

        1. F1oSaurus (@)
          28th April 2019, 9:06

          @anunaki Do you still not see how ridiculous this argument is? Again the same can be said for Mercedes.

          For instance, how about Mercedes did a safe run to get through Q2? It’s the set of tyres they need to use from the start. Why would they go nuts on them when they don’t need to?

          1. @f1osaurus I don’t think it’s ridiculous at all. Vette clipped the inside barrier and had a huge moment just before the red flag. You could see his lap was extra careful

            I strongly believe the party mode of Mercedes is extremely good

          2. F1oSaurus (@)
            28th April 2019, 17:15

            @anunaki Sure if you must believe in fairy tales.

  6. Never saw that one coming from Bottas, didn’t think he was quite hooked up enough but it was a great lap at the end.

    And Ferrari… I want a proper title race with four drivers. Stop disappointing me and finding new ways to screw up.

    1. @neilosjames

      We have Hamilton, Vettel and Verstappen starting in P2, P3 and P4… I think it should be a mega first few laps laps at least. Baku is one track where slipstreaming and DRS has a massive effect.. and with these 2019 wings, we could see them battle it out up until the first round of pitstops.

      I have a sneaky feeling we might see some contact between them going in to the first corner.

      Maybe it’s all just wishful thinking..

  7. Racing Point with Perez in it is just impressive on this circuit. How does he do it.

    1. But in the other cat we have rhe master of Baku…

  8. Hamilton could very well have been on pole had he was not comprised at the start of his last lap. Charles also was consistently quicker than Seb till his crash.
    Still its Baku and tomorrow can be very chaotic race and anyone in the top 4 can win. Even Charles can win if he gets a good start from P10.

    1. That red car is not stable in the twisty bits of Baku circuit.

    2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      27th April 2019, 16:40

      I don’t understand how Hamilton was more compromised than Bottas really. Bottas backed off from a car ahead too, Hamilton could have done the same on Bottas earlier on in that lap but he decided to stay close. It was unlucky but I don’t think he was much more unlucky than Bottas. Mercedes took a huge risk with both and I thought they both had been messed up. But Bottas backed off the driver infront enough and took pole. Both had a tow near the end and Hamilton managed fastest sector in the middle and last which to me shows he possibly had a slight advantage following his team mate rather than another car.

      1. Both had a tow near the end

        Nope, Bottas did not have a tow. Look at the polelap.
        Hamilton did, by closely following Bottas.

        1. F1oSaurus (@)
          28th April 2019, 9:08

          What are you on about? Bottas actually had to hold back a bit creating more of a gap to the car in front.

          Plus he said this:

          VB: Well, it’s all about small margins and I did get a good tow in the last lap.

      2. @thegianthogweed

        Lewis decided to stay close coz he couldn’t back off more. He beat the flag by 5 seconds according to commentary team. That was super close and Mercedes should not have let them practice race starts at the beginning of Q3. Lewis lost almost 3 tenths in the first sector. I agree it was not perfect preparation for Bottas either.

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          27th April 2019, 17:56

          I am aware it was tight, but given drivers should be used to the time it takes them to get from the last corner to the start/finish, 5 seconds is enough to drop back another second or two which may have made the difference. Very difficult, But I think it was possible. I also have commented to someone else about this, so you don’t need to reply as i am aware we do disagree about this. It was tight, but I personally think Hamilton could have left it a tiny bit more.

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          27th April 2019, 18:42

          Yea, i have been corrected. Interesting, as he was so close to a car when he was at the final corner. Guess he backed right off more then i realised. IN that case, i understand that Hamilton couldn’t have backed off by that margin given the time left. But then Hamilton will have had a significant advantage over Bottas in the final sector. And possibly the middle one too so I think the lap by Bottas did reflect his realistic pace and he possibly was faster than hamilton would have been even without being effected at the start of the lap and having the tow at the end.

          1. F1oSaurus (@)
            28th April 2019, 9:12

            @thegianthogweed No you have not been corrected. The car giving the tow is clearly visible. Just not in the first few seconds.

            Bottas was at the perfect distance to he car ahead, but indeed due to Bottas holding back a little more, Hamilton got too close to Bottas.

          2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
            28th April 2019, 12:02


            Noris was a tiny spec of a car way ahead in the distance. When Bottas started his lap, Noris had already gone round the first corner. And if Bottas benefited from a tow to begin his lap, that benefit was only worth a tiny fraction as he had to break in a few seconds. It is possible that Noris helped just slightly again at the end of Bottas’s lap, but it is incredibly difficult to see him that i doubt it helped much at all. The distance was massive and with this much wind about it is pretty unlikely it made a difference really. He will have gained nothing at all in the first few corners of the flat out part and only been in line with Noris for about 10 seconds, at a huge distance behind him.
            Whereas Hamilton certainly was close enough to benefit significantly at the last part of the lap from being behind Bottas. It is obvious being close at that stage increases your speed a huge amount from what we saw earlier in qualifying and practice.

          3. F1oSaurus (@)
            28th April 2019, 17:19

            @thegianthogweed Yes that car was the tow. It starts working from a car up to 4 seconds ahead.

            Why not try to actually understand things instead of speculating wildly and then getting it so wrong?

            Or maybe easier to just listen to what Bottas said:

            VB: Well, it’s all about small margins and I did get a good tow in the last lap.

        2. Bottas himself said he got a good tow … guess he’s lying? 🤔

        3. F1oSaurus (@)
          28th April 2019, 9:10

          LOL, you have got to be kidding me. You can clearly see the car which gave him the tow!!!!

    3. @amg44 Giovinazzi has a penalty so he’s already up to P9

      1. @3dom

        Game on then. And Leclerc will also start on Mediums so hopefully closes the gap to top 4 quickly.

        1. @amg44

          I think he starts on the used softs he used to get in to Q3.

          1. He set the lap on mediums before his crash. So he would start on a similarly aged medium set i think.

  9. So Merc have got so bored of winning that they’ve decided to troll the entire paddock for fun.

    It’s obviously worked.

    Here’s to another season.

    1. +10000

      Mercedes have mastered the art of trolling this year. The FIA, the media, even Ferrari themselves think they are the fastest.

  10. I really hope charles can finish in front of seb tomorrow. If he doesn’t and seb is 10+ points after this race, I’m sure ferrari will make him 2nd driver by default.

  11. Once the party mode is deployed nothing really changes.
    Status quo stays with Merc as per normal.
    Lewis has a better start, then tells us the car is hard to drive and blitz the track.
    At least we can see how many places Charles will move up to.
    HOPE for some surprises after some crash/chrashes……………

  12. F1oSaurus (@)
    27th April 2019, 17:17

    Too bad Leclerc binned it in Q2. Would have been nice to have seen the true potential of that Ferrari in Q3.

  13. I wouldn’t want to get into a punch up with Valtteri, he looks like one tough cookie. ;)

    1. It’s those eyes that scare me.
      A Master of the dead stare.
      They look they have been painted on!

      1. You know it’s the quiet ones….when they finally snap :)

        1. @Oh, he did a damn fine job today, hoping for smooth sailing tomorrow.

  14. I remember Verstappen receiving very hard critics after he had crashed so stupidious in Monaco, and he quite earned it. But how come it remains silent now about Leclerc? He already had a good enough time on yellows likely to get him in Q3, so why take all that risk at that entry?

    1. F1oSaurus (@)
      27th April 2019, 17:57

      Verstappen crashed for the second time in Monaco and at the time he was already in his third season with Red Bull. Leclerc is new to Ferrari and he was one of a whole lot of cars hitting walls.

      Still it was a very dumb mistake yes. Especially since he was safe already anyway.

      Also, you could go to the thread where Leclerc’s crash was discussed already.

    2. Got to agree with @f1osaurus and I’m pretty sure everyone was easy on Max in his first season.

      I would say though that now Max has calmed down and is really driving like a mature Pro, we do not seem to be giving him the credit he deserves.
      We (myself included) were all over him when he was in “Mario Kart” mode the last two seasons but now he is driving smart it is like very few people ever notice him despite the fact that he is the only real competition to Merc and Ferrari and is making pretty much Zero mistakes so far this year.

      It is like the poor guy has found a twilight zone where only he exists despite his achievements.

      He will grab F1 by the neck and own it one day I hope, but young Charles might start causing him problems sooner rather than later.

      1. Fot the moment charles is causing problems for charles ;)

    3. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      27th April 2019, 18:54

      The main thing I agree with is the risk Leclerc was taking. It was unnecessary. And it was possibly because of his inexperience. But look at how the other drivers reacted when then had a lock up like that. It should be obvious you won’t make it and rather than attempting to make the corner, he should have kept going the same direction. He didn’t exactly need to improve his time.

      Even in practice which wasn’t as vital as qualifying, the drivers that locked up and were not going to make that corner realised and didn’t even attempt this. I think it is just a bit of a poor decision, but Leclerc admits this and it is great that he accepts his mistakes. But given how highly people rate him, he should get a lot of criticism for this.

    4. Maybe it has to do with max blaming others, like SAI last year in MON, while LEC owns up a 100%.

  15. Hamilton was beaten for the second time out of four qualifying sessions by Bottas.
    He may well be the best of his era, but not by far comparable to the all time greats.
    Schumacher and Senna would have crushed Bottas.

    1. Or maybe Bottas is racing better this year.

      1. That’s for sure! Infact, I am complimenting him.
        Still, that wouldn’t have been enough to beat the all time greats, but it’s more than enough to beat Hamilton.
        My point was about this, I didn’t mean to take anything away from Valtteri.

    2. F1oSaurus (@)
      27th April 2019, 21:49

      @liko41 Pffft that;’s such an utterly ridiculous stretch. Especially whenb youa re describing the guy with the best qualifying history in F1.

      Hamilton lost 3 tenths because of the cars backing up into each other and Hamilton getting too close to Bottas. That meant he lost downforce in the first sector. In the end he was only a few hundreths slower than Bottas. It happens.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        27th April 2019, 23:07

        Yes, i can agree he lost some time in the first sector, but given he had a top from Bottas, he easily will have made some if not all or more of that up in the last 2 sectors. So overall, I don’t think Hamilton had a disadvantage compared to Bottas that lap not i have seen the video given how much slipstream helps at the end.

        1. F1oSaurus (@)
          28th April 2019, 9:15

          @thegianthogweed Bottas did get the same tow Hamilton did in the final sector. However Bottas did not have the disadvantage of running too close to the car ahead through the first part

          1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
            28th April 2019, 10:19


            I don’t know why people keep saying this. Bottas had a tow before the lap started….. And Bottas backed off Noris by quite a bit before his lap started so will only have had a fraction of a benefit. And that only was the case when his lap started. When he was at the first corner, that ever so slight slight speed advantage was gone. Hamilton will have gained more speed from Bottas at the start of his lap and significantly more at the end. Here as well as the rest of the lap, bottas had no tow at all. It was only the corners of the 1st sector that was messed up for Hamilton. So that was a disadvantage at the start of his lap, but a significant advantage near the end due to slipstream, possibly explaining his fastest middle and last sector times.

          2. F1oSaurus (@)
            28th April 2019, 10:53

            @thegianthogweed, They need to time the distance perfectly for the tow to work and then Bottas suddenly slows down. Clearly both Hamilton and Raikkonen were caught out by Bottas suddenly slowing down at the end of the lap.

            Sure Hamilton would have gotten slightly more of a tow at the end of the lap, but he also lost a lot of time during the first half. Overall it cost him time to be too close. For Raikkonen it was even worse.

            Not sure how you seem to be the only one not understanding this. So yes I get how you would be confused by people who do get it.

          3. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
            28th April 2019, 18:57

            What i was replying to was that you were saying Bottas and Hamilton had the same tow…

            It is pretty clear from when we have watched overtakes, they gain far more speed on the straight when they are really close to the car infront. As when they get closer, their speed increased more rapidly. Bottas crossed the line around 4 seconds after noris. I still don’t think 4 seconds time distance at this sort of speed would have made much difference at all. I’m not sure how to calculate it, but at this sort of speed, the distance is massive. And given the amount of level changes and the fact that noris kept dissapearing from view on the straight from Bottas’s view point, the slight effect likely won’t have always been there (the wind won’t have helped either), but it will have been more for Hamilton who was a lot closer to Bottas. Hamilton may have had his first sector effected, but i seriously doubt his other 2 were given he was fastest of anyone.

        2. Indeed.
          Hamilton was beaten by Bottas fair and square, and it’s not even the first time.
          Props to Valtteri.

      2. Utterly ridiculous answer.

    3. @liko41, Bottas is proving he can drive fast, Hamilton is proving (asif he needs to !) he can drive smart.

  16. The beard strikes again! Congratulations to Bottas.

  17. Bottas, aided by the slipstream of cars ahead of him on the run to the finishing line, leapt into the top spot with his final run.

    There was not a car in sight on his pole lap.

    1. F1oSaurus (@)
      28th April 2019, 9:18

      @silfen You need to look more closely then. The car giving Bottas the tow is clearly visible several times.

      You might be confused about the distance they need for the tow to work and the car to not wash out ion the corners. Indeed they are not separated by a few meters, but it’s more a full second or something.

  18. Thank God VET shaved his moustache!

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