2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix Preview

2017 Formula One World Championship

Round 8, Azerbaijan Grand Prix
Baku City Circuit, Baku
Sunday 25 June, 15h00 CAT

Round 8 of the 2017 Formula One season takes place at the picturesque Baku Street Circuit in Azerbaijan. This year will be the first running of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with 2016’s race at the same circuit known as the European Grand Prix.

Mercedes have the momentum coming into this weekend's GP, with Lewis Hamilton having enjoyed a dominant victory at the previous round in Canada to cut the gap to Drivers’ Championship leader Seabstian Vettel to just 12 points. The Silver Arrows showed a remarkable ability to adapt their car to difficult circumstances in Montreal, which bodes well for a Baku street circuit which has a unique mixture of extremely tight and restrictive sections as well as a fiercely fast straight heading into the grid in which the cars are expected to hit speeds of above 360km per hour.

Ferrari will be looking to bounce back after a difficult race last time out, though Vettel’s fine recovery drive after early troubles shows that they have an outright pace advantage over every other car bar the two Mercedes. It’s expected to be tight at the front between the Scuderia and Silver Arrows, with qualifying on Saturday set to be key in deciding who controls the race. Red Bull, rather than closing the gap to the front two teams, appear to be more concerned with holding off a challenge from Force India, who had the pace to challenge Daniel Ricciardo for a podium finish in Canada but fluffed their tactics with weak team orders.
It’s expected to be another tough weekend for the beleaguered McLarens, with Fernando Alonso set for more penalties after problems with the power units in Canada. The Honda-powered team has yet to claim their first points of the 2017 season, but the way a street circuit can throw up unexpected results may play into their hands - if they can address their reliability demons.

Drivers’ Championship top five
  1. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari - 141 points
  2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes - 129
  3. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes - 93
  4. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari - 73
  5. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull - 67
Constructors’ Championship top five
  1. Mercedes - 222 points
  2. Ferrari- 214
  3. Red Bull - 112
  4. Force India - 71
  5. Toro Rosso - 29
Azerbaijan Grand Prix stats - Baku Street Circuit, Baku

First held: 2016
Number of F1 races: 1
Most wins, driver: Nico Rosberg, 1
Most wins, constructor: Mercedes, 1
Circuit length: 6.003 km
Race length: 306.153 km
Laps: 51

2016 stats

Podium: 1. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) / 2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) / 3. Sergio Perez (Force India)
Pole position: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), 1:42.758
Fastest lap: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), 1:46.485

Published: 06/23/2017