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Sunday images from the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
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F1: Bottas’ Baku Heartbreak

Apr 292018

Valtteri Bottas was sat slumped with his back pressed against a crash barrier, and his head, still shrouded in his crash helmet, thinking about what might have been.

 

The Finnish ace had driven a fantastic race to lead the Azerbaijan Grand Prix until two laps from the end when he struck an unseen piece of debris that caused a race-ending puncture.

Valtteri's terrible bad luck promoted his Silver Arrows teammate, Lewis Hamilton, to first place, earning the defending world champion his first win of the season; a result which also takes him top to the drivers' championship.

 

The image of Valtteri's misery was summed up when he declared he was "absolutely heartbroken" after the misfortune in Baku. It was a timely reminder to the emotional rollercoaster of top-level sport and a result that Valtteri will look to rectify when the racing resumes in Europe at the Spanish Grand Prix on May 13th.

 

Valtteri said: "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. I had no idea at any point that I ran over any debris, I didn't see anything, I didn't feel anything, so I was just very, very unlucky."

There was plenty of drama in Baku for the second season running but the focus now shifts back to Europe where the Silver Arrows will be looking to build on the team's first win of 2018 in Barcelona.

 

Lewis, who immediately went to find Valtteri to offer his commiserations before the podium presentations, is now four points clear of Sebastian Vettel as they head to Spain; a race where last season Hamilton managed the hat-trick of pole, win and fastest lap.

 

The European season is always a benchmark to see just how far the teams have progressed with the development of their cars.

 

After his win in Azerbaijan Lewis said: "I have very mixed emotions. It's really quite a humbling experience. Ultimately, Valtteri deserved to win. He did an exceptional job, a faultless drive. Less so on my side."

 

"The reason I was late for the podium was because I ran back to see Valtteri. I really wanted to congratulate him because it's hard when you have a day like this, your gut sinks and you feel the worst. So I thought I can be a good teammate to try and lift him up and say 'you did an exceptional job', it's an act of respect."

 

"Valtteri was very, very unfortunate. A one-two would have been a great result. I wouldn't have got by him if he hadn't had that tyre blowout. 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."

 

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