Grand Prix of Azerbaijan in Baku, Sunday, 30.04.2023
At last, racing action again. Due to the cancellation of the Chinese GP, fans of Formula 1 had to wait four weeks for the next race of their favorite racing series.
In Azerbaijan this weekend, Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and Co. are turning their laps again and bringing even more action to the fourth round of the season. Because the session format has been adjusted at short notice.
For the seventh time, the Baku City Circuit is part of the Formula 1 racing calendar. The six victories so far have been shared by Mercedes and Red Bull. Both teams won three times and a different driver has finished first in every race so far.
Will there be a seventh winner in the seventh race? I would answer in the affirmative if Verstappen wasn’t already on the list of GP winners.
The Dutchman was already driving towards the Baku victory in 2021, but retired with a puncture. It all worked out a year later.
This year, too, he is the clear favorite. The first three races of the season have shown that Red Bull is in a league of its own. A class difference in favor of the double series world champion can also be clearly seen in the team-internal duel with Sergio Perez (Baku winner in 2021)
The role of favorite is accordingly clearly assigned by the betting providers. Verstappen goes into Sunday’s main race with 1.36 odds.
The first of six sprint races of the season will also take place this weekend. Longer in the discussion was in the run-up to adjust the format on the sprint weekends.
Background: The second practice session on Saturday, between qualifying and the sprint race, was almost pointless due to the parc ferme regulations.
In addition, the sprint races were mostly quite boring. Indeed, no risk was taken in the duels, as a crash would have meant the end of the grid in the incomparably more important main race.
Now Formula 1 runs a practice session and a qualifying session on Friday. However, this time trial session results directly for the starting grid on Sunday.
On Saturday, there will be no practice session in Baku, but a shortened qualifying session, which will form the starting grid for the sprint race. This makes Saturday a de facto isolated sprint day that no longer has any impact on the main race. The exact schedule of the Baku weekend incl.
Sports betting fanatics who like to bet on Formula 1 should be happy about this change with more decisive sessions, which initially only applies to Baku.
The short preparation time with only one practice session on the difficult street circuit does not change the fact that Verstappen is already the clear favorite in qualifying. At 1.33, the odds are even slightly lower than those for the race win on Sunday.
However, the amount is not lucrative. Especially since all teams had the opportunity to further develop their cars or rethink concepts during a four-week break. So there remains a certain residual risk.
So far, races in Azerbaijan have rarely been smooth from start to finish. Safety car phases due to collisions, driving errors or technical defects are anything but a rarity on the demanding circuit.
Betano’s 1.18 odds that the safety car will be deployed best sums up the pre-programmed action.
Due to the long break and the now partly heavily modified cars of the teams, technical failures are all the more realistic. For under 16.5 classified drivers Betano has 1.75 odds ready.
The last 5 races at Baku City Circuit:
Two crashes in which both drivers are unable to continue after each would be enough for this bet to occur.
An outstanding betting provider for Formula 1 is Bwin. In addition to a large selection of odds for all sessions, the oddsmakers also offer duel bets from drivers who are not on the same team.
For example, bets can be placed before the first practice session on whether George Russell (Mercedes) or Carlos Sainz jr. (Ferrari) will perform better in qualifying.
I find the bet on whether Fernando Alonso will reach the top 3 in qualifying with the Aston Martin particularly interesting. After the break, I imagine Ferrari and Mercedes have made steps forward.
Overall, these two racing teams still have the better resources and have already made up ground on the British brand in Australia.
For the bet that Alonso will not make it to the “qualifying podium”, a 1.50 is offered. If the two Red Bull drivers are already in the top 3, there would only be one place left for the Spaniard.
Even more lucrative in terms of odds is the bet that both Red Bull drivers finish in the top 2. A 2.00 doubles the stake. However, neither driver is likely to have a slip-up on his fastest lap.
Conclusion: Even after the four-week break, Red Bull should be the measure of things. Anything other than a pole position for the Austrian racing team would be a surprise.
Behind them, however, it’s likely to be very close. I particularly trust Mercedes, who already outperformed Alonso in Australian qualifying, to crack the Spaniard.
That’s why my tip for Formula 1 qualifying in Azerbaijan is that Alonso will not finish in the top 3.
My tip: Alonso not in the top 3 (Quali)