If last year’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix is anything to go by, this weekend’s Formula 1 outing should be one to remember. Baku’s street circuit proved to be a testing one for many drivers in 2017, with seven of the twenty cars failing to make it across the finishing line in an incident-packed race.
Sebastian Vettel, who just missed out on a podium position then, currently tops this year’s drivers’ championship standings, having triumphed in two of the three races that have taken place. However, this Grand Prix has the potential to cause a shake-up; so which drivers could succeed?
The 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix – A Must-See Race for Formula 1 Fans
Although we’re in the opening stages of the season, there’s a lot at stake in Azerbaijan. Gaining an early lead in the drivers’ championship can be crucial when it comes to deciding the winner of the famous racing trophy.
The reigning world champion, Lewis Hamilton, will need to be on form if he wants to reduce Vettel’s nine-point lead, but things haven’t been going well for him this season. He hasn’t managed to win a single race, having finished in second place in Australia, third in Bahrain and fourth in China. What’s more, his Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas, has outperformed him in the last two races, with second place finishes in Bahrain and Shanghai. The Finnish driver has racked up 40 championship points, just five fewer than Hamilton.
Lewis won’t have fond memories of Baku either, despite having qualified in pole position there last year. Not only was he involved in two controversial collisions with Vettel in 2017, his headrest worked its way loose, forcing him to pit. He eventually finished the race in fifth. That’s still five places higher than he managed there the previous year, however, in the European Grand Prix. He crashed in qualifying and then discovered his engine was in the wrong mode during the race, an issue that Mercedes had to let him resolve himself due to team radio restrictions.
Which Other Formula 1 Drivers Could Finish on the Podium in Baku?
Kimi Räikkönen has finished on the podium twice this year, so could be a contender, although his record at Baku hasn’t been spectacular. The Ferrari driver finished fourth there in the 2016 European Grand Prix but was forced to retire after a puncture caused damage to his car’s floor in 2017.
Daniel Ricciardo will definitely be worth watching this weekend. The Aussie, who added another racing trophy to his collection when he won the Chinese Grand Prix two weeks ago, triumphed in Baku in 2017 and finished third there the year before. Ricciardo’s teammate, Max Verstappen, is also one to keep an eye on, although he’s been plagued by car reliability issues since joining Red Bull.
The beauty of the Baku race, however, is that anything can happen. The chances of incidents occurring and safety cars appearing are high, so the smaller teams have better opportunities for success than usual. Last year, for example, Lance Stroll claimed Williams’ only podium place of the season in Baku when he finished in third position. Could something astounding happen in Azerbaijan this year? It’s certainly worth tuning in to see.
Who do you think will cross the line first in the 2018 Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix? Let us know your podium predictions in the comments section, on Twitter or on Facebook.