Mercedes’ Bottas eyes Baku revenge, F1 championship lead - GulfToday

Mercedes’ Bottas eyes Baku revenge, F1 championship lead

F1

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas pictured after he took pole in China from team-mate Lewis Hamilton. File/Reuters

Valtteri Bottas has a score to settle as he heads into Sunday’s Formula One Azerbaijan Grand Prix determined to make up for a lost win and regain the championship lead from Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

The Finn was leading around the streets of Baku last year when a puncture three laps from the end handed victory to Hamilton instead.

The Briton went on to win 10 more races on his way to a fifth title while Bottas ended the season demoralized and with zero wins.

The 29-year-old has come back from the winter stronger and looking more of a match for his team-mate, even if Hamilton has returned to the top of the standings after chalking up his second win of the season in China on April 14.

“For sure I would prefer to still be leading but that’s the situation now and if I keep performing well I can turn it around,” said Bottas, who trails Hamilton by six points with 18 races remaining.

“So that’s going to be the goal for Baku,” added the Finn, who was on pole in China but dropped behind Hamilton at the start.

Mercedes head into Sunday’s race, the fourth since Azerbaijan joined the calendar in 2016, as favorites after three one-two finishes — the strongest start to a campaign since Williams in 1992.

They have also won two of the three races in Azerbaijan, even if it has not been a particularly happy hunting ground for Hamilton. Last year’s victory was his first podium appearance there.

Nothing can be taken for granted at a circuit that has served up some thrillers in the past, mixing ultra-long straights and tight corners with no margin for error.

Like Bottas, Ferrari will also be hoping to make a statement.

Already 57 points behind Mercedes in the overall standings, the pre-season favorites have a meager haul of two third-place finishes from the first three races and cannot afford to lose any more ground.

New recruit Charles Leclerc, smarting from being ordered to move over for four times champion Sebastian Vettel in China and denied a maiden Formula One win by engine trouble in Bahrain, will be especially fired up.

Reuters

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Team Emirates’ Pogacar claims podium finish

A monumental final push in the UAE heat from Tadej Pogacar wasn’t enough to take the win in the third stage of the team’s home country as Adam Yates...


The 184km Emirates Stage finished with an exhausting 10.8km climb as Yates launched a surprisingly early attack with 6km to go. Pogacar didn’t react to Yates’ initial acceleration but then ripped clear of the chasing group with 5km remaining, finishing second in the stage, claiming the young rider’s jersey and ending the day second in the GC in a successful day for the team.

Pogacar said “It was extremely hot today, so for me on a climb like that in those temperatures it was a really good ride and I’m pleased.

“There is still three stages with another big mountain stage and the chance of crosswinds tomorrow so it’s not over yet. We have a strong team here so will try something for sure.”

Pogacar will get another chance to claim back the one minute GC deficit as the fifth stage of the Tour finishes at the same Jebel Hafeet summit.

Pogacar will wear the white young rider’s jersey in Wednesday’s stage as the race sees the riders return to the flats which will come as welcome relief for the sprinters.

The Emirates NBD Stage starts from Zabeel Park, crosses Mushrif Park and Motor City before finishing at Dubai City Walk where the popular walkway has been transformed as part of the racing route.

British climber Yates pulverised the opposition on the tough, final ascent of stage, winning by over a minute and taking the overall race lead.

His compatriot Chris Froome was dropped early in the race.

The four-time Tour de France winner again struggled on his comeback from injuries sustained last May.

The 27-year-old Yates is also making his 2020 debut and looks favourite to win in a competitive field after his stunning attack from 6km out at the end of a warm day with temperatures passing 30C.

“I attacked maybe a little too early, but in the end I felt good,” said Yates, whose win gives him a 1min 07sec lead in the overall.

“A minute is a lot, but we have to do this climb again, and maybe my legs won’t be so good then,” Yates said in reference to stage five.

“Also tomorrow I heard a rumour there are going to be crosswinds, so we’ll see.”

Yates was followed up the final 10.6km Jebell Hafeet climb at a 7 per cent gradient by a trio of challengers with Slovenian prodigy Pogacar finishing 1min 03sec adrift.

Astana’s Alexey Lutsenko was third at 1min 30sec accompanied by up-and-coming Frenchman David Gaudu.

Yates came fourth at the 2016 Tour de France and is targeting the Grand Boucle this summer where he will lead the Australian team ahead of his brother Simon.

Wednesday’s flat stage, the fourth of seven, is a 173km run to Dubai City Walk where a mass bunch sprint is expected.





Stage 3 Results

1. Adam Yates (GBR) Mitchelton-Scott 4h42’34”

2. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) UAE Team Emirates +1:03

3. Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ) Astana +1:30

General Classification Results

1. Adam Yates (GBR) Mitchelton-Scott 12h30’02”

2. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) UAE Team Emirates +1:07

3. Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ) Astana +1:35

22 hours ago