FORMULA 1

MERCEDES MAKE IT FOUR IN A ROW

Bottas held off LCH to win in Azerbaijan and take the lead of the Formula One world championship. Bottas started from pole position and kept Hamilton at bay as the Mercedes duo went wheel-to-wheel through the opening three turns.

Hamilton attempted a late charge for victory, but Bottas had enough in his pocket to take the chequered flag and move one point clear of the Brit in the title standings.

Sebastian Vettel finished third for Ferrari. Charles Leclerc started eighth after he crashed out of qualifying and the Ferrari junior, on a different strategy to the front runners, fought his way back through the field following a fast start, and actually led a large chunk of the race.

But on ageing rubber he began to slow, and by the time he was hauled in for a change of tyres, he had fallen to sixth.

The young Monegasque claimed one position back to take fifth, but he will depart Baku wondering what might have been had it not been for his qualifying blunder. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen crossed the line in fourth.

The race on the streets of Azerbaijan’s capital city has been one of the sport’s highlights in recent seasons but Sunday’s event failed to live up to its pre-race hype.

Bottas will not mind, though. The Finn failed to win once last year but now has two victories from the opening four rounds. Mercedes will care little that the race was a dud, too. The Silver Arrows secured their fourth one-two from as many races. So much for a Ferrari revival.

FORMULA 1

ANOTHER FRONT ROW FOR MERCEDES

Bottas beat LCH to top spot by just six hundredths of a second in a thrilling qualifying session for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Mercedes took advantage of Leclerc’s dramatic crash to lock out the front row in Baku with Vettel only third on an evening to forget for Ferrari once again.

Leclerc had been the favourite to secure the front slot on the grid after dominating the weekend so far.

But after the 21-year-old put his Ferrari in the barriers, Bottas claimed the spoils with his final throw of the dice to beat Hamilton.

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari SF16-H at Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Practice, Baku City Circuit, Baku, Azerbaijan, Friday 17 June 2016.

The Finn took his second pole in as many races with the sun setting in Azerbaijan’s capital following two crashes which delayed the running by almost an hour.

First, Robert Kubica hit the barriers at the narrow castle section, and then Leclerc did the same. The young Monegasque clipped the kerb at the left-handed entry to turn eight, and went head-on into the wall on the opposing side of the track.

“I am stupid, I am stupid,” he said furiously over the radio before hitting his car with both hands as he emerged from the cockpit.

John Elkann, the Ferrari chairman, is in Azerbaijan this weekend, and he shook his head in response to his new driver’s crash. “No excuses,” tweeted Leclerc, who is set to start from ninth providing there are no hiccups putting his heavily-damaged car back together.

“I’ve been useless. I will push to have a better tomorrow. Sorry to all the people supporting us and even more to the whole team that deserved so much better.”

INDYCAR

FERNANDO ALONSO AT INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY

Two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso returned to IMS for the first time since his attention-grabbing effort in the 2017 Indianapolis 500, when he led 27 laps and was named rookie of the year. The Spaniard’s progress was delayed Wednesday by an electrical issue on the installation lap in his No. 66 McLaren Chevrolet and he was unable to complete both phases of the refresher session.

“It’s good to be back, to feel again the magic of the place,” Alonso said.

He added that the car issue wasn’t a complete surprise since it was the first time on track with the Dallara chassis prepared at the McLaren Technology Centre in England, with the finishing touches placed on it a week ago.

“For us, obviously, we lost a little bit of time at the beginning,” he said. “This was more or less expected because, as I said, it was a brand new chassis, brand new car. Everything fit in the last week. We expect to run slowly, step by step, short runs at the beginning. It’s what we did.

“If we could probably have (run) the (install) laps at midday, maybe you discover these issues, then you have hours to work on the car, be ready for the afternoon. The weather delays everything. You do the lap at 5:30 p.m. and there is no room to get back on track on time.”

The IMS focus shifts now to action on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course for the INDYCAR Grand Prix. Practice and qualifying take place Friday, May 10. The sixth annual race airs live at 3 p.m. ET Saturday, May 11 on NBC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

The 103rd Indianapolis 500 takes place Sunday, May 26 and airs live at 11 a.m. ET on NBC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

F1Weekly podcast # 787

CLARK IS TIRED OF THE FERRARI FAKE SPEED AND HANDING THESE WINS TO TOTO. NASIR LOVING LCH SEES NO PROBLEM WITH THE COMPLETE DOMINATION OF THE 2019 SEASON!

SERGIO PEREZ GIVES US HIS THOUGHTS ON BAKU…

Sergio: “Baku has become one of my favourite races of the year. It’s a quick lap with good overtaking opportunities and that seems to generate lots of drama. I love the lap and it’s a real challenge for the drivers because the walls are close and you have to be so precise. Street circuits generally really test the drivers and I actually wish we had more on them on the calendar.

“I’ve been on the podium in Baku at two of the three races so far and I think my podium last year was one of my best races. I remember getting ahead of Vettel and then keeping him behind me during the final laps. I had to concentrate so hard and I drove some of the best laps of my life. Each lap was like a qualifying lap!

“This team has always been competitive in Baku so I am hopeful the same is true this year. For a number of reasons the track layout has always suited our cars. It’s a track where you need good top speed and confidence on the brakes. I was happier with our performance level in China, especially on Sunday, and we need to find the same rhythm in Baku.”

Play Podcast: 04-24-19f1weekly787.mp3

WRC

A C3 R5 ONE-TWO FINISH WITH BONATO-BOULLOUD AND ROSSEL-FULCRAND!

Yoann Bonato – Benjamin Boulloud and Yohan Rossel – Benoît Fulcrand finished as winners and runners-up respectively at the Rallye Lyon-Charbonnières-Rhône in their Citroen C3 R5s, once again illustrating the competitiveness of Citroën Racing’s flagship customer racing product.

Bonato-Boulloud and Rossel-Fulcrand dominated the event in the C3 R5, the French crews winning thirteen of the fifteen stages and leaving their rivals to fight over the crumbs at this year’s Rallye Lyon-Charbonnières-Rhône. Yoann Bonato and Benjamin Boulloud lived up to their status as reigning two-time French Rally champions (2017 and 2018), the pre-event favourites immediately grabbing the overall lead by winning the opening stage. It was a lead that they would hold onto until the end of the rally, whilst also picking up the honour of “best performers” with eight other stage wins. It was a dominant, controlled performance from start to finish.

This was their first win of the year, a second consecutive victory at this event after prevailing here in 2018, and the result moved them to the top of the French championship standings. Still learning about the C3 R5, Yohan Rossel and Benoît Fulcrand, winners of the 2018 Peugeot 208 Rally Cup, picked up where they had left off at the Rallye Terre des Causses (2nd), gradually upping their pace as they finished the event on a high. Having taken one stage win during the first leg on the wide, circuit-style roads, they ended day one fourth overall, just 1.5s adrift of second place. However, another three stage wins on Saturday’s afternoon loop enabled them to grab second place by eight tenths of a second. A narrowly secured runners-up spot that shows not only how closely contested the event was, but also how the pair improved over the two days.

BRITISH GT CHAMPIONSHIP

LOGGIE AND KEEN SHARE OULTON PARK POLES AS MULTIMATIC MAKES PERFECT START IN GT4

> RAM Racing and Barwell Motorsport start up front on Easter Monday
> Maxwell and Priaulx unstoppable in GT4
> Results: Qualifying

RAM Racing’s Ian Loggie claimed his maiden British GT pole position at Oulton Park earlier today ahead of Easter Monday’s two season-opening British GT races. Phil Keen starts Race 2 up front for the second successive year, while Scott Maxwell and Seb Priaulx handed Multimatic Motorsport’s #15 Ford Mustang a double GT4 pole position.

GT3 Q1: LOGGIE UNTOUCHABLE IN OULTON’S SUNSHINE

RAM Racing’s Mercedes-AMG had looked fast in practice and Loggie converted that potential into a maiden British GT pole position during the first of today’s 10-minute qualifying sessions.

Team Parker Racing’s Ryan Ratcliffe made the early running but couldn’t respond to any of the three laps that were good enough for Loggie to seal pole. His best – set on the final tour – of 1m35.061s was ultimately sufficient to topple the Bentley driver by 0.597s.

Barwell’s Sam De Haan was just 0.041s behind after beating JRM’s Rick Parfitt Jnr to third by less than a tenth in the closing stages, while Dominic Paul was fastest of Century’s BMW continent in fifth.

The second Barwell Lamborghini completed the top-six courtesy of Adam Balon, who was just 0.006s behind Paul but another 0.3s clear of Adrian Willmott. Mark Farmer ended up fastest of the Aston Martin drivers in eighth.

GT3 Q2: KEEN DENIES RAM RACING A DOUBLE POLE

Phil Keen has always enjoyed Oulton. Three wins from the last four races attests to that. And Barwell’s Lamborghini factory ace put himself and co-driver Adam Balon in prime position to add to the tally by claiming pole position for Monday’s second 60-minute encounter.

Adam Christodoulou held the initial advantage thanks to Callum Macleod’s first flying lap being discounted for a track limits infringement. However, none of that mattered once Keen joined the party, his 1m33.541s comfortably good enough to secure top spot by 0.496s from Macleod, whose second lap vaulted RAM Racing’s Mercedes-AMG up to second.

ABBA Racing’s Christodoulou made it two Mercedes-AMGs in the top-three, while Seb Morris equalled the efforts of his JRM co-driver Rick Parfitt Jnr by completing row two. Barwell’s second Lamborghini driven by Jonny Cocker and TF Sport’s #2 Aston Martin of Nicki Thiim finished fifth and sixth fastest.

Multimatic’s only previous British GT appearance came in 2007, while the Mustang makes its championship debut this weekend. However, the team – best known for its FIA WEC exploits with Ford – showed its class by claiming GT4 pole positions for both races.

Its #15 and #19 entries both start up front on Monday morning when Scott Maxwell leads away team-mate Jade Buford. The pair enjoyed a personal battle for pole throughout the first 10-minute session as the advantage swung this way and that. The Canadian ultimately triumphed, but only by 0.103s from his North American counterpart.

HHC’s McLarens start line astern behind after Dean Macdonald overcame Tom Jackson. The Scot finished 0.3s shy of pole and less than two tenths ahead of his team-mate. A 570S also occupies fifth courtesy of Tolman Motorsport’s Jordan Collard, who was less than 0.1s clear of TF Sport’s Patrick Kibble in the first of the Aston Martins.

Mark Kimber’s Century BMW, the Academy Motorsport V8 Vantage of Alex Toth-Jones and James Dorlin’s second Tolman McLaren finished seventh, eighth and ninth, while Kelvin Fletcher was the fastest Am in Beechdean AMR’s Aston Martin.