Bottas, Raikkonen set for another battle from P2, P3 on Baku grid

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Formula 1’s pair of Finns – who have occasionally contacted each other – may be set for another intriguing battle for Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix (9 a.m. ET, NBCSN).

Valtteri Bottas slotted his Mercedes AMG Petronas car into second on the grid with Kimi Raikkonen outqualifying Sebastian Vettel at Scuderia Ferrari for the second time in three races. Raikkonen had the pole at Monaco and today at the Baku City Circuit he is third while Vettel is fourth.

Unfortunately for both Finnish drivers, neither was happy with their position, as Lewis Hamilton took his 66th career pole.

Bottas looked the early polesitter in Q3 before Hamilton’s stormer of a lap at 1:40.593 eclipsed him by about seventh tenths, although he improved to just 0.434 off by the end of the session.

“It was disappointing – I was going for the pole,” Bottas said in parc ferme after qualifying. “I struggled with the front left temperature. Lewis had a good lap. I didn’t. Second place is not bad.

“I think Lewis had a really good lap and I didn’t. I wasn’t quite comfortable with the tire temperatures. It was the first time we tried to go for a time in the first lap of the tires and I couldn’t get them to work as well as Lewis. I didn’t have enough grip. The run before was good, and before the red flag everything was going OK.

“In the end I’m disappointed to lose the pole position, as that was definitively the target for me today, but I’m really proud. We’ve made quite big changes through the practice sessions, we were quite lost, to be honest, in the beginning and we managed to turn it around, so for that I’m really, pleased. For tomorrow we, as a team, definitively have a great starting position and we’re going to have a good fight and try to get another one-two for the team.”

Raikkonen was 1.1 seconds off the pace in third, top Ferrari driver, and not happy to be as far back. He said he struggled with the tires as well. Both fast times were set on the Pirelli supersoft compound.

“Obviously it’s better than where I was before. But it’s been difficult compared to where I was before,” Raikkonen said in parc ferme.

“Luckily the last set was a better feeling. If you switch it on, it goes good. It depends when you switch on the tires.”

Vettel starts fourth but will look to benefit on Sunday.

Dakar Rally video highlights from the concluding Stage 14

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EDITOR’S NOTE: NBCSN will air additional Dakar Rally highlights on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. ET and Monday at 7 p.m. ET.

The 40th Dakar Rally is now history.

Nearly 550 competitors began the early 5,600-mile long race 15 days ago and concluded Saturday.

As we’ve done throughout the Rally, here are some key video highlights from NBCSN’s coverage of the Rally:

TRUCKS

CARS

QUADS

 

MOTORCYCLES