Although the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday will be the second Formula 1 event held on the Baku City Circuit (and 8th event in the 2017 season), it will be the first under that name.
The European Grand Prix moniker under which the race was run was misleading at best, considering that the country is actually located at the crossroads of Southwest Asia and Southeastern Europe. As fans who bet on auto racing, current F1 champion Nico Rosberg won the 2016 European GP from pole with a 1:32:52.366 time. However, Rosberg is retired so the race will most likely come down to one of the following candidates.
Ham bounced back from his first finish of the season outside the top 5 in Monaco with a first place at the Canadian Grand Prix. The British wheelman will enter Sunday’s race with the proverbial chip on his shoulder. Hamilton came in 5th place after getting stuck in Ludicrous Speed for 12 laps. One would think exceeding 220 miles per hour would help him get to where he was going faster, but one would be wrong. Ludicrous Speed can be very dangerous. Hamilton could have gone to plaid. Moreover, due to new blanket radio ban set by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, Ham’s team was not allowed to tell him which engine mode to pick out of hundreds of alternatives. The problem’s plain to see: too much technology.
The 2017 World Drivers’ Championship standings leader and all-around auto racing betting favourite Sebastian Vettel finished second in Baku last year though he sympathized with Hamilton. “If you want my honest opinion the ban is a joke, because it doesn’t really change much,” Vettel said on that occasion. And not even a knock-knock joke; more like Public Enemy’s assessment of the emergency telephone number. Vettel had his, comparatively speaking, worse finish of the season with a 4th place in Canada.
With the exception of Monaco, the Mexican has consistently finished in the top 10 this season. Furthermore, he matched his career-best finish with 3rd place in Azerbaijan in 2016. He might have done better but was bumped back to seventh on the grid as penalty for after he hit the barrier in turn 15 during the last practice session.
The Finnish finished 6th in Baku last year, but he did reach the highest speed ever in an official Formula One session (378 km/h) during qualifying, so that’s something, right? Right? Well, if that’s not enough to sway people who bet on auto racing, Bottas has four podiums in seven races this season and is 3rd in the standings behind Vettel and Hamilton.
Bottas’s compatriot came in 4th place in the 2016 European GP after he graciously allowed teammate Vettel to pass him for second place. Räikkönen was three seconds too late to win his first race of the season in Monaco and hasn’t finished first since the 2013 Australian Grand Prix, but he manages to always find himself in the top 10. His auto racing betting odds may not be as good as back in 2007, but one shouldn’t completely count him out.