Valtteri Bottas held off Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to claim his second victory of the 2019 Formula 1 season at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday.

Hamilton made the better start to challenge polesitter into Turn 1 before the Mercedes duo went wheel-to-wheel through the opening sequence of corners, but Bottas just fended off Hamilton’s attack to maintain the lead at Turn 3.

Barring a spell out front for the out-of-sequence Charles Leclerc - running longer into the race on Medium tyres following his qualifying crash that left him eighth on the grid - Bottas controlled proceedings throughout to claim a redemptive victory in Baku, a year on from being cruelly robbed by a late puncture.

The Finn crossed the line 1.5s ahead of Hamilton to seal a record-breaking start to the season for Mercedes with its fourth straight one-two finish, as the reigning world champion squad once again coming out on top against its chief rival Ferrari to further boost its early championship advantage.

Hamilton had reduced Bottas’ lead down to under two seconds but lost crucial time during a late Virtual Safety Car period, instigated by Pierre Gasly’s Red Bull grinding to a halt with an apparent driveshaft failure in the closing stages. Hamilton hit back with a late attack, getting within DRS range, but Bottas did enough to seal a victory which moves him back to the top of the drivers’ standings by a single point.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel struggled to match the pace of the leading Mercedes pair and ultimately had to settle for the final spot on the podium, ahead of Max Verstappen, who continued his run of top-four finishes for Red Bull so far in 2019.

Leclerc recovered strongly from his costly Q2 shunt to finish a distant fifth, having made impressive early progress with a storming opening stint to charge through the field. The Monegasque scythed his way up to fourth place by lap 10 and moved into the race lead when those running ahead of him stopped.

On an alternative strategy, Leclerc run deep into the race until finally making his own pit stop at the end of Lap 34. Ferrari made the most of a free pit stop to switch Leclerc onto a brand new set of Softs in the final few laps in an attempt to snatch the additional fastest lap point, which he did on the penultimate lap.

Behind Leclerc came Racing Point’s Sergio Perez in sixth, followed by the McLaren pair behind. Carlos Sainz claimed his first points finish of the season ahead of teammate Lando Norris on what was a solid showing for McLaren.

Lance Stroll charged into the points from 13th on the grid to claim ninth place as the last driver not to be lapped, with Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen turning in a strong recovery drive from the pit lane to take the final point on offer and round out the top 10.

Toro Rosso's Alexander Albon finished just under three seconds outside of the points in 11th, two seconds clear of the second Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi, while Kevin Magnussen finished a lowly and distant 13th for an off-the-pace Haas team which struggled all weekend.

It was a difficult weekend for Renault as the French manufacturer failed to score any points. Nico Hulkenberg could only manage 14th place while teammate Daniel Ricciardo got involved in a clumsy collision with Daniil Kvyat that led to both drivers retiring from the race.

After both drivers locked up and took to the run-off area, Ricciardo reversed his Renault into Kvyat's car, leaving them both with damage that would force them to park up and retire.

George Russell was two laps down for Williams in 15th, ahead of teammate Robert Kubica who served a drive-through penalty due to going to the pitlane too early prior to the start of the race, summing up another miserable weekend for the struggling British squad.

Romain Grosjean was another late retirement to add to the list of four non-finishers. 

The 2019 Formula 1 season continues with the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona on May 12.

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