Valtteri Bottas cruises to win in Baku as Mercedes dominate again

Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas celebrates winning the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on the podium, with teammate Lewis Hamilton second and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel third. (Reuters)
Updated 28 April 2019

Valtteri Bottas cruises to win in Baku as Mercedes dominate again

BAKU: Valtteri Bottas held off Lewis Hamilton before cruising to victory in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday to continue Mercedes’ dominance of the title race.
That was the fourth straight one-two finish for Mercedes, the best start to a season by a two-car team in Formula One history.
“It obviously means a lot. It’s incredible as a team the kind of level we are performing at now,” Bottas said. “It’s only my fifth win so of course it feels great.”
Bottas was challenged by teammate Lewis Hamilton at the start but held on to the lead after they battled through the opening two corners.
Bottas took over the championship lead by a single point from Hamilton, who took second place behind the Finn.
It was Bottas’ second victory in four races this year after a winless 2018.
It came a year after the Finn was agonizingly close to victory in Azerbaijan before a puncture forced him to retire from the lead and handed the win to Hamilton.
“He made no mistakes and he truly deserved the win,” Hamilton said of his teammate Sunday. “It was lost in qualifying.”
Sebastian Vettel was third as Ferrari failed to challenge Mercedes on a track that had been widely considered to favor the Italian team.
“It was never really working. I was uncomfortable, inconsistent, I couldn’t get a feel for the car,” Vettel said of his early stint on soft tires. He added that later in the race, “we had some pace to at least go with them, sometimes put a bit of pressure,” but Bottas and Hamilton already had a comfortable lead.
Max Verstappen was fourth for Red Bull, while Charles Leclerc took fifth for Ferrari after a crash in qualifying left him starting eighth before he battled through the field.
Leclerc also claimed the bonus point for fastest lap. The Monaco driver took advantage of a big gap behind him to take an essentially free pit-stop for fresh tires and go on a qualifying-style final run to set the fastest time.
Sergio Perez took sixth for Racing Point, while Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris were seventh and eighth in McLaren’s best two-car finish in more than a year. Racing Point’s Lance Stroll was ninth, and Kimi Raikkonen claimed 10th for Alfa Romeo after starting from the pit line when he was disqualified from Saturday qualifying.


Spanish striker David Villa set to retire from Japan club

Updated 13 November 2019

Spanish striker David Villa set to retire from Japan club

  • Villa scored 59 goals in 98 appearances for Spain from 2004-17, including five goals at the 2010 World Cup
  • Before signing with Kobe, Villa played at Valencia, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid before spending four seasons with New York City FC
KOBE, Japan: Spanish striker David Villa says he will retire from Japanese club Vissel Kobe next year, ending the career of Spain’s top scorer in international play.
The 37-year-old Villa, who joined Kobe last December, said he plans to retire after the season ends in January.

“It’s better to leave football before football leaves me,” he told a news conference speaking in Spanish. “I’ve been thinking for several years — when you reach 33, 34 or 35 — the moment can arrive at any time in a game, in training, or with an injury.”

Villa scored 59 goals in 98 appearances for Spain from 2004-17, including five goals at the 2010 World Cup as his nation won the title for the first time.
He scored four goals for Spain en route to the 2008 European Championship title.

Before signing with Kobe, Villa played at Valencia, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid before spending four seasons with New York City FC, scoring 80 goals in 124 MLS appearances.

“It’s a decision I’ve thought about a lot,” he said. “I spoke about this with the people who care about me, with my family, and the people who have been with me for my whole career.”

Villa repeated several times that it was not a knee-jerk reaction. He scored 12 goals this season for Kobe, a decent scoring output for a struggling club. But he said he knew the retirement time was near.

He was asked about the quality of play in Japan and was laudatory.

“I was surprised at the level of play in the J-League,” he said. “Not only in terms of the veteran players here, but the young players here that have enormous potential. It’s not that I was expecting less. I was expecting a top league, but it surpassed by expectations.”

Villa has also mentioned his interest being an investor in a new club based in the New York area — Queensboro FC, which will play in the second tier of American soccer.

“Queens always showed love to me and my family while we were in New York,” he wrote on Twitter. He said it was “a dream to build” a new professional team.