- Valtteri Bottas secures DHL Fastest Lap in Azerbaijan Grand Prix
- The Mercedes driver posts fastest race lap for fifth time in his career
- Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo lead the DHL Fastest Lap Award
Valtteri Bottas secures DHL Fastest Lap in Baku
The Azerbaijan Grand Prix was once again very spectacular. With just a few laps to go before the end of the race, it looked like Sebastian Vettel would achieve a comfortable victory, but things ended very differently. The safety car was sent out on track after some inter-team rivalry on Lap 40 and a crash involving Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, from which Valtteri Bottas was to emerge as the main beneficiary.
The Mercedes driver, who had still to pit, took the lead from Vettel after his tire change and appeared to be heading for victory. However, with three laps to go to the checkered flag, the Finn suffered a puncture and retired, losing the lead to team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who went on to win this fourth race of the season.
Bottas had burned a time of 1:45.149 into Baku’s asphalt on Lap 37 even before the safety car came out and took the DHL Fastest Lap – a bittersweet achievement for the Mercedes driver.
"I'm absolutely heartbroken. It hurts a lot. But this is racing; some days are good, some days are bad - and some days are very bad. A small piece of debris destroyed my entire weekend. We had a good race until the puncture. The car felt really good and we were fast. I thought I had everything under control on the Safety Car restart, but then suddenly my tyre exploded", Bottas said.
The second-fastest lap of the race went to Hamilton. While the British driver was just under three tenths slower than his teammate, he was obviously much happier in view of the race outcome.
"I have very mixed emotions today. Valtteri deserved to win, he did an exceptional job and had a faultless drive. This is such a crazy and exciting race and I never gave up. I was constantly pushing but it was a real struggle. I feel incredibly grateful to come out with the win. You have to take the ups with the downs and I can't complain that I won; I will take it and hopefully learn from today. But Valtteri was very, very unfortunate, a one-two would have been a great result for the team", said Hamilton.
Fastest laps: FORMULA 1 2018 AZERBAIJAN GRAND PRIX
- 01 Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes): 1:45.149 - on Lap 37
- 02 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes): 1:45.412 - on Lap 35
- 03 Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull): 1:45.419 - on Lap 34
- 04 Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari): 1:45.530 - on Lap 38
- 05 Max Verstappen (Red Bull): 1:45.771 - on Lap 31
- 06 Sergio Pérez (Force India): 1:46.206 - on Lap 51
- 07 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari): 1:46.523 - on Lap 50
- 08 Lance Stroll (Williams): 1:46.815 - on Lap 50
- 09 Carlos Sainz (Renault): 1:46.856 - on Lap 50
- 10 Romain Grosjean (Haas): 1:46.880 - on Lap 34
History: DHL Fastest Laps in the FORMULA 1 AZERBAIJAN GRAND PRIX
The DHL Fastest Lap of 1:45.149 posted by Bottas was well below the lap record set in 2017 by Sebastian Vettel, which stands at 1:43.441. Nico Rosberg, who went on to become world champion took the DHL Fastest Lap with a time of 1:46.485 when Formula 1 first raced in Baku in 2016.
Ricciardo takes lead in DHL Fastest Lap Award
For Valtteri Bottas, this was his second DHL Fastest Lap of the current season after the race in Bahrain. Overall, the Finn has achieved five fastest race laps in his career. Like Bottas, Daniel Ricciardo has also set two fastest laps this season, so the two drivers jointly lead the DHL Fastest Lap Award.