Hamilton pushing Rosberg for championship lead in Baku


Nico Rosberg's once formidable lead at the top of the Formula One drivers' standings has been cut to nine points by Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton, and the reigning champion will be looking to move ahead at the European Grand Prix this weekend.

Successive race victories in Monaco and Canada have seen Hamilton move to within nine points of championship leader Rosberg, who finished seventh and fifth in those races respectively.

The relationship between the pair is amicable at best, but neither will want a repeat of the collision that ruled them both out during the opening lap in Spain as they battle to head up the standings.

Having pushed Hamilton all the way in Montreal, Sebastian Vettel has his eyes set on the top of the podium as F1 heads to Azerbaijan for the first ime.



Rosberg started the season with four successive Grand Prix triumphs, but Hamilton has taken a 34-point chunk out of his lead in the past two races.

The reigning world champion could return to the top of the drivers championship this weekend, and that is his target heading into Baku following successive victories.

"We need to try to keep on a roll if possible - onwards and upwards, hopefully. But hopefully, it will be fun," said Hamilton.



A third-place finish in Montreal represented Valtteri Bottas' first podium of the season.

However, the Williams driver is not satisfied by that and insists he will keep pushing to claim a first Grand Prix win of his career.

"I actually think that must have been one of the best ones as it was one of my best races, that was the feeling after the race," said Bottas.

"I'm not too pleased because I want to win races, I'm not 100 per cent satisfied with being third. But it's been a difficult season so it's a good result and we definitely want more."



This weekend will be the Baku City Circuit's F1 debut, and the six kilometre track certainly encourages the drivers to keep their foot on the throttle.

The track incorporates long straights along modern roads with a large number of 90 degree turns, while there are also intricate sections through the Old Town that could prove technically challenging.



Cloudy but dry conditions are expected for Friday practice, but the sun will be out for qualifying and racing on Sunday. The air temperature is expected to be 29 degrees Celsius when the race begins at 5:00pm local time, so the on-track conditions will be far warmer than in previous weeks.



The last two races have been run on the ultrasoft compound, but it will not be available in Baku.

With no experience of the track to go by, variation is minimal. However, Rosberg has selected two sets of the medium compound, while Hamilton, Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen have all opted for one, hinting at a potentially different strategy.