Formula 1 preview: The Grand Prix of Azerbaijan 2019

24-04-2019 16:02
by Matt Gretton
General
Formula 1 preview: The Grand Prix of Azerbaijan 2019

The 1000th Formula 1 race wasn't the most exciting event, but after China, the circus is now on route to Azerbaijan where absolutely anything can happen! The Grand Prix in Baku has a history of surprises, but what will it be this year? Can Mercedes keep their streak of one-two's intact? Will Ferrari manage to close the gap? And how will Red Bull's upgrade behave in the streets of Baku?

Flashback to 2018

Lewis Hamilton lined up next to his rival Sebastian Vettel at the start of the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Plenty of contact occurred in the opening exchanges of the race with Sergey Sirotkin and Fernando Alonso forced into pitstops with punctures. Esteban Ocon had the biggest drama as he went into the wall while fighting with Kimi Raikkonen.

After the safety car, Vettel had the lead with Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton breathing down his neck. However, the big story was developing behind with the two Red Bulls. Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen were fighting each other, a battle which lastest almost 30 laps.

After a pitstop, the two Red Bulls collided on the home straight to produce one of the biggest talking points of the Formula 1 season. Ricciardo and Verstappen were both out of the race and the safety was out for the second time. Under the safety car, Romain Grosjean somehow managed to steer into the wall causing all sorts of debris to spread.

By this point, Bottas had the led as Vettel was fighting from 2nd place. Vettel made a mistake and slipped down to 4th. Bottas looked certain for the race win, but a puncture from some earlier debris ruined his race as he dropped to the back. Therefore, Hamilton took the race win and the second Ferrari, Raikkonen, took second. But the biggest surprise of all saw Force India's Sergio Perez stand on the podium after a chaotic race.

Results 2018

P1 Lewis Hamilton
P2 Kimi Raikkonen
P3 Sergio Perez

So what about this year?

We can expect more of the same. Out of the three races completed in Baku, two of them have been frantic. There's plenty of room for speed on the street circuit, but there are also sections full of tight corners and technical areas around the castle.

The Ferrari car has been the fastest in terms of straight-line speed in 2019. Charles Leclerc and Vettel will look forward to driving on the long straights, but it'll be Mercedes with the upper hand in the corners. Hamilton is favourite for pole position.

Red Bull and Honda have given Pierre Gasly and Verstappen a new engine for this race, with an expected gain of 20hp. A welcome improvement for the straights, something they struggled with in China.

With the confidence from their hatrick of one-two's, we think it'll be hard for anyone to beat the Silver Arrows. But in this Grand Prix, anything can happen.

GPblog predicts

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