The eighth race of a pulsating Formula Formula season will be Vroomed off in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku tomorrow. This is the second time the F1 race is going to be held at what can be called an off-road city in the Caspian coast of a tiny, oil-rich, ex-Soviet republic. It is a street circuit surrounding a medieval castle. But last time it did not offer the street circuit excitement that we see in places like Monaco and Singapore. Nico Rosberg won last year. Mercedes will be looking for an encore, while Ferrari will be eager to bounce back after a horrible weekend in Canada. Whom to back for online betting? Well, read on.
The Baku Street Circuit is about 6 km long. The drivers have to cover a distance of just over 306 km over 51 laps. The design of the circuit is a curious aspect. This circuit should have the longest straight stretch among the currently active F1 circuits. One side of the race course – almost half of circuit, close to 2.5 km – is a virtual straight road. The other side is studded with rectangular corners. That is why Hamilton opined recently that one needs “to build the rhythm to race on this circuit”. He could not find the rhythm last year. In practice races yesterday too he was off-rhythm. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen clocked the fastest lap. But he was never fully in control. It is hard to pick a winner at the Baku City circuit.
After his thrilling win in Canada, Hamilton must start the favourite. But he was unusually off-color in the practice sessions. His ex-girl friend Nicole Scherzinger, with whom he split after a media-hyped on-off relationship, happens to present in the city at the same time.
The hot and humid atmosphere should help Ferrari, especially in the tyre front. That gives hope for Sebastian Vettel too.
Vettel now leads the points table for drivers. He has 141 points against Hamilton’s 129. The gap is not something that Vettel will be comfortable with. A win here could boost his top position further. Verstappen was extremely quick. But Red Bull is unlikely to challenge Ferrari and Mercedes.
Our Predictions: Given Hamilton’s lacklustre performance in the practice sessions, Vettel seems to be the favourite at Baku. Check out the odds here.
Photo Credit: Motorsport.com