Azerbaijan Grand Prix

2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix Preview

All eyes will be on the Baku City Circuit for the 2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix this weekend and Lewis Hamilton will be looking to secure victory in the race for the second year in a row. The five-time world champion finished two-and-a-half seconds clear of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen 12 months ago and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Hamilton regain his spot at the top of the podium.

Man to Beat

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton

With two wins in three Grand Prix events so far this year, Hamilton is leading the pack in the race for the World Drivers’ Championship. Currently priced at 15/8 with William Hill to claim victory in Baku, Hamilton has been the standout driver in 2019. He is yet to finish outside of the top two in three races this campaign and his Azerbaijan Grand Prix success in 2018 could convince punters to side with the Mercedes man.

However, even the most ardent Hamilton fan will admit that Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas was hard done by at Baku in 2018. With 48 of the scheduled 51 laps completed, the Finnish driver looked destined to claim what would have been only his fourth Grand Prix win – but a puncture scuppered his chances and handed victory to Hamilton. Bottas will fancy his chances of making amends for that misfortune this weekend…

This was Bottas’ best opportunity of the season and the 29-year-old went on to become the first Mercedes driver NOT to win a single Grand Prix in a season since Michael Schumacher in 2012. However, that was then and this is now. With victory in the 2019 Australian Grand Prix already under his belt, Bottas can continue to drive with confidence and the 4/1 with 888sport could turn out to be a huge price come Sunday evening.

Next up in the betting we have the two Ferrari drivers. Sebastian Vettel started the season as Ferrari’s main man but Charles Leclerc has gone from strength to strength in his early F1 career and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if the team switches allegiance midway through the year. At the time of writing, Vettel has acquired 37 points to Leclerc’s 36 but both men have secured one podium finish apiece.

Vettel is one of the most experienced drivers on the Formula One circuit and most Ferrari supporters are still treating the German as the team’s number one name. Currently priced at 5/2 with Ladbrokes to claim a first Azerbaijan Grand Prix victory, Vettel has coped well under pressure this year. He has finished above Leclerc in two of the three Grand Prix races and he deserves to be recognised as Ferrari’s top option.

One major worry this weekend will be the car. Is the Ferrari suited to Baku’s city circuit? If you look back at the last two years, Ferrari have failed to inspire confidence in Azerbaijan and that will be cause for concern. With just one podium finish since the inaugural event in Baku, Ferrari have struggled to navigate this tight circuit effectively and Vettel is difficult to back after finishing fourth and fifth respectively in the last couple of seasons.

However, Leclerc boasts a slightly different style to that of Vettel and he could be the man to crack the Baku code. At just 21 years old, he still has a lot to learn but Leclerc is fearless and you need to take calculated risks to succeed in Baku. The two drivers who have won there; Daniel Ricciardo in 2017, Hamilton in 2018, are two of the more offensive drivers in the sport but Leclerc will need controlled aggression to succeed.

charles leclerc

Charles Leclerc

Leclerc could be Formula One’s poster boy at some point in the future but the youngster will be taking things one race at a time for now. Currently fifth in the standings with 36 points, Leclerc is a 13/2 shot to win the World Drivers’ Championship this season – time is on his side though and he won’t be too disheartened to fall short. Keeping Ferrari in a competitive position in the Constructors Championship will be his and Vettel’s main aim for 2019.

The odds lengthen somewhat once you get past the top four. Max Verstappen, labelled as Formula One’s next superstar a couple of years ago, has acquired 39 points through three races in 2019 and he could snatch a podium spot with a bit of luck. Priced at evens to do just that, the Dutchman has been a pillar of consistency in qualifying and on race day. If he can register a fast lap on Saturday, Verstappen will be in the mix on Sunday.

With 23 podium places in 84 Formula One starts, Verstappen has an excellent record given Red Bull Racing’s struggles in recent years. Verstappen finished fourth in the standings last year and he will be hoping to break into the top three this time around. He has won at least two races in each of the previous two campaigns and it would take a brave man to write the Red Bull star off. Verstappen relishes being the underdog and he could be prominent in Baku.

Poor Daniel Ricciardo. Now driving for Renault, it would be fair to state that the start of the 2019 season hasn’t exactly gone to plan for the Australian. Ricciardo did not finish either of the opening two Grand Prix events of the campaign but he was a respectable seventh at the Chinese Grand Prix last time out. Punters can back Ricciardo at 18/1 with Betfred for a shock podium finish.

Verdict

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix is always a highlight – it could be a regular feature on the Formula One calendar for decades to come. Lewis Hamilton’s win here last year could give him the edge over his rivals but it would be foolish to write anyone off. Baku is as unpredictable as it is unforgiving and one mistake can end your chances in a flash. An exciting, intricate race is expected and that may play into the hands of Charles Leclerc.

Best Bet

  • Charles Leclerc to win at 7/2 with Ladbrokes
  • Daniel Ricciardo for a Podium Finish at 18/1 with BetFred

About Azerbaijan GP

History

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix is one of Formula One’s newest Grand Prix events, with the race first taking place at Baku in 2017. One of only five street circuits used in Formula One, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix is unique and unpredictable. Betting markets on this race are usually quite open due to the unforgiving nature of the event.

A thrilling spectacle, the Baku city circuit has thrills and spills around every corner and that only helps to intensify the drama and excitement – from the opening practice on Friday to the final lap of the Grand Prix on Sunday. Punters looking to bet on the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in 2020 and beyond should follow practice closely.

Interestingly, there was a Grand Prix held at the track in 2016 but it went under the name of the European Grand Prix. Baku has been an instant hit with Formula One followers across the world and it may be a regular feature on the calendar for years to come.

Winners

daniel ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo

There have been three different winners of the three editions of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Daniel Ricciardo was first to finish top of the Baku podium in 2017, beating Mercedes star Valtteri Bottas despite starting down in 13th on the grid. There was more than a slice of good fortune about Ricciardo’s victory but a Grand Prix win is a Grand Prix win.

Since then, Mercedes have taken control of the Baku city circuit. Bottas looked destined for success in 2018 but a tyre issue in the closing stages handed an easy win to teammate Lewis Hamilton. It was a turning point for Hamilton in his bid for a sixth world championship after a mixed start to the 2018 campaign.

However, Bottas was rewarded with a win in the 2019 race. After finishing second in 2017 and then a puncture scuppering his chances of winning the race in 2018, most Formula One fans were happy enough to see Bottas celebrating a first Baku success. It was a Mercedes 1-2 on the podium with Hamilton finishing less than two seconds behind his teammate.

At the time of writing, Bottas is 9/2 with Betfred to push on and claim a first world title off the back of his Azerbaijan Grand Prix triumph. Like Hamilton, the Finland driver can use this success as the catalyst for a world championship push.

Fastest Lap

2019 was the fastest year yet at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix – both in terms of qualifying and quickest lap during the race itself. Bottas snatched pole position on Saturday with a record time of 1:40:495 – less than one tenth of a second faster than Hamilton’s time in 2017.

In the Grand Prix itself, Charles Leclerc – who was our tip to win the 2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix – set the fastest lap at 1:43:009. The Ferrari driver looks destined for a successful career in Formula One and he could be one to watch in the near future. You can back Leclerc at 8/1 to win the upcoming Spanish Grand Prix with 888sport.

Interesting Facts

Baku City Circuit

Baku City Circuit

As of the 2019 Formula One season, the Baku city circuit is the second largest track on the calendar at 3.730 miles. Hardcore motorsport fans would probably be able to guess that Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is the biggest circuit at 4.352 miles. With so many twists and turns, there is plenty of scope for making errors at Baku – which contributes to the drama of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix event.

Furthermore, Mercedes are the only team currently in operation to win the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Ricciardo was driving for Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer (since disbanded) when winning in 2017 and this has been Mercedes’ playground in recent years. Look out for the two Mercedes drivers in 2020 betting markets for the race.

The Future

What can we expect from the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in the future? Well, it looks like the Baku city circuit will keep its spot on the Formula One calendar for the time being – and that can only mean positive things for the sport. Fans want to see close combat action and this is one of the best Grand Prix weekends for sheer entertainment.

With three different winners in three years, it is unpredictable and unforgiving in nature. If you look back at the last few results, Bottas is the most consistent performer and this could almost turn into a ‘home away from home’ for the Mercedes driver if he continues to shine in Baku.

The Formula One governing body tends to evaluate tracks on a regular basis but there is no sign of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix disappearing at anytime soon. The Baku city circuit is one of the most appealing for new motor racing fans and that may be one of the most important reasons for keeping the track on the Formula One calendar.