It’s been a grueling month for Formula One fans during the break, but the suffering has ceased as the action continues this weekend. The action at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku, Azerbaijan has already begun as each of the 20 races on the grid prepare for a race that will definitely bring the speed. Below I’ll provide a preview and my predictions for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Preview of Azerbaijan Grand Prix
The schedule for this weekend’s schedule is a bit different than usual, as the first of six sprint races added will be held. The action began on Friday April 28, with the grand prix scheduled for Sunday, April 30, at 7 am EST. The action consists of a practice session and a qualifying session on Friday, a 45-minute sprint shootout and a sprint race on April 29, and the grand prix on April 30.
The drivers have already been given a taste of the track as they’ve already completed the practice and qualifying session. Unsurprisingly, Red Bull driver Max Verstappen led the pace as he posted the fastest lap of the session. But what was an even bigger shock was the qualifying session, as Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc was able to outpace both Red Bulls and claim his first pole position of the season.
The top 6 in the qualifying session were Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez, Carlos Sainz JrLewis Hamilton, and Fernando Alonso, as this pack seems to include the drivers that have podium-quality finishes any given week. Leclerc definitely has a lot to look forward to heading into the sprint race on Saturday.
The 51-lap Azerbaijan Grand Prix takes place on the 6.003-kilometer Baku City Circuit and is known for hosting some of the fastest top speeds of the season. The circuit features 20 turns, 2 DRS detection zones, a speed trap, and one of the longest tracks of the Formula One season. The Baku race is always exciting, but after the tightly contested first day, I think this year’s race will be special.
Predictions for Baku
Heading into the sprint race, Verstappen does not hold pole position for only the second time this season, as he picked up a 15-place grid penalty prior to the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Charles Leclerc had the better qualifying session, but I’m not sure his car is ready to battle with Verstappen quite yet.
If Verstappen, who has -210 odds to win the grand prix, is able to win the sprint race, I would definitely lock him in as my betting pick. However, if Leclerc, who holds +550 odds, is able to hold off Verstappen for the brief sprint race, I would see no reason not to ride with Ferrari. Although this pick might end up backfiring on me, my bet to win the Azerbaijan Grand Prix is Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc (+550). This will certainly be an interesting race, and I hope Ferrari can reenter the contender discussion to provide a bit more excitement to the 2023 campaign.
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