Mercedes will be looking to bounce back from their poor start to the season when the F1 field lines up for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday the 29th of April.
Well ladies and gentlemen, it looks like we are in for a truly competitive season this term with Daniel Ricciardo’s amazing victory in China reminding everyone that Red Bull are more than capable of mixing it with the big guns at Ferrari and Mercedes.
Red Bull may issue yet another warning out in Azerbaijan this weekend as the Baku Street Circuit is one they thoroughly enjoy with Daniel Ricciardo taking race honours here last season.
Bahrain Grand Prix | Sunday 29th April | Baku Street Circuit | 14:05
To Win Race Outright
Lewis Hamilton 11/10 | Sebastian Vettel 7/4 | Daniel Ricciardo 10/1 | Max Verstappen 10/1 | Kimi Raikkonen 10/1 | Fernando Alonso 250/1
Daniel Ricciardo may have taken the race win out in China but the stars of the show were the Red Bull pit crew who somehow managed to clear both Red Bull cars, on two occasions, with only a matter of seconds between the time one went out and one came into the pit. The dexterity of the Red Bull pit crew allowed both Verstappen and Ricciardo to take advantage of the two safety car periods out in China.
Verstappen somewhat butchered his chances, with a late crash with Sebastian Vettel meaning he was only able to recover fifth-place when a podium finish looked on the cards. The young gun finished behind Lewis Hamilton – who had yet another woeful day at the office.
Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, salvaged some pride for the Silver Arrows by claiming second place on the podium, while fellow Fin Kimi Raikkonen did much the same for Ferrari bringing his car across the line in third place, while his colleague Vettel could only muster up an eighth-place finish.
Vettel was actually on for sixth position but late overtakes from Nico Hulkenberg (6th) and Fernando Alonso (7th) forced the German ace further down the field.
The final two spots in the Top 10 were claimed by Carlos Sainz (9th) and Kevin Magnussen.
This will be the third race held at the Baku Street Circuit and here’s hoping it’s as entertaining and drama-filled as last year’s where we saw numerous crashes. including that now infamous collision between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton.
This track presents numerous overtaking opportunities, but the drivers will know from last year’s race that trying to overtake at every opportunity will only end in a crash. The standout feature of the Baku Street Circuit and where we could well see some more wheel-to-wheel action is the long straight that runs from Turn 1 to Turn 20.
The weather forecast for this weekend looks decent enough with cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid-teens being forecast for race day.
Last year’s race was won by Daniel Ricciardo with Valtteri Bottas (2nd) and surprise package Lance Stroll (3rd) rounding out the podium.
First Driver to Retire – Max Verstappen 16/1
It seems the only certainties in life may need another item added to them; death, taxes and Max Verstappen crashing a race car. It seems the young gun is yet to curb his adventurous side. He was at the centre of a multitude of race incidents out in China and was extremely lucky to get his Red Bull over the line.
Verstappen was forced to retire as early as lap five last year in Baku. He’s certainly worth a punt to be the first driver to retire at a big price of 16/1.
Fastest Qualifier & To Win Race – Sebastian Vettel 33/20 & 7/4
The German will be fuming after Max Verstappen ruined his chances of further extending his lead at the top of the Drivers’ Championship standings when the duo crashed in China. Needless to say, Vettel will be revved up this race weekend.
While Seb doesn’t’ have the healthiest records out in Azerbaijan he has managed to claim a second-place (2016) and a fourth-place (2017) finish at the track. And with the form he’s in at the moment, I can see him claiming Qualifying and race honours this weekend.