Things are pretty tight at the top of the F1 Drivers' Championship standings as we head to Azerbaijan with only four points separating currently leader Max Verstappen and second-placed Lewis Hamilton.
The reigning world champion will be eager to bounce back from a rather poor showing in Monaco and leapfrog Verstappen into first place by the time the dust settles at the Baku Street Circuit.
Azerbaijan Grand Prix
Sunday 6 June
Baku City Circuit
To Win Race
Lewis Hamilton 12/10
Max Verstappen 5/4
Valterri Bottas 8/1
Sergio Perez 17/2
Monaco threw up some big surprises with both Mercedes drivers failed to finish on the podium with Hamilton claiming seventh place and Bottas retiring from the race.
With the two Mercedes men failing to fire, the top six made for interesting reading as Max Verstappen claimed the race win while Carlos Sainz (second) and Lando Norris (third) joined him on the podium.
Monaco was a decent old race for Red Bull with Sergio Perez taking fourth place. He was followed across the line by Sebastian Vettel (fifth) and Pierre Gasly (sixth), while Lance Stroll (eighth), Esteban Ocon (ninth) and Antonio Giovanazzi (tenth) rounded out the points scoring positions.
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 20 through to Turn 1.
We’ve got decent weather schedule for the weekend with clear skies prevailing from Friday to Sunday.
Last year’s Azerbaijan Grand Prox was called off due to COVID, with the most recent race staged there being the 2019 edition, which saw Valtteri Bottas claim first place, Lewis Hamilton taking second and Sebastian Vettel claiming third.
Podium Finish – Lando Norris – Yes @ 11/4
I have a feeling that Norris could well spring a surprise here. He has enjoyed a great start to the campaign two third-place finishes already.
He has only raced at this venue once but produced a decent drive bringing his McLaren-Renault home in eighth. I reckon he’ll do a lot better here as he is now behind the wheel of a vastly improved car.
To Win Race Outright
Max Verstappen @ 5/4
Three races have been staged at the Baku Street Circuit and all three were won by different drivers with Daniel Ricciardo winning in 2017, Lewis Hamilton winning in 2018 and Valtteri Bottas winning in 2019. I reckon that trend will continue here with Verstappen becoming the fourth driver to win at the track.
Verstappen has been somewhat unlucky at this venue retiring from the 2017 and 2018 editions. He did alright in 2019, however, bringing his car across the line in fourth place. I reckon he’ll be in confident mood following his Monaco success and will be keen to keep the momentum up.