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F1 Azerbaijan GP: Track difficulty, past winners and favourites

Published at :April 7, 2023 at 4:25 AM
Modified at :May 25, 2023 at 1:02 AM
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Kushal Golwelkar

Red Bull drivers will fancy their chances of coming on top.

Formula 1 (F1) will return to Baku City Circuit for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix (Azerbaijan GP) on April 30. The Azerbaijan GP is relatively a new Grand Prix which was added to the F1 calendar in 2017. F1 has raced here five times in the past and has a new winner each year. Only two teams have won in Baku, Red Bull and Mercedes.

Red Bull has won the Azerbaijan GP three times, and Mercedes have come victorious on the Baku City Circuit twice. The inaugural season of the Azerbaijan GP was won by Daniel Ricciardo, while Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton clinched the title in 2018, followed by teammate Valtteri Bottas in 2019.

Formula 1 decided not to race at the Azerbaijan GP in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 2021 and 2022 saw consecutive wins and domination for Red Bull as Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen won the race respectively.

Azerbaijan GP: Track difficulty

Baku GP
Azerbaijan GP: Circuit (Courtesy: Road & Track)

The Azerbaijan GP was the fastest street circuit of the F1 calendar until the inclusion of the Jeddah circuit in Saudi Arabia. The Baku City Circuit is designed around the historic centre of the city. The 6km track is the second longest track on the calendar after Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. The 2.2 km long straight is perfect for slipstreaming with cars and the track is wide enough to be able to run three cars side-by-side which makes the race more interesting.

It is quite common for drivers to reach speeds which are more than 340 kmph. The first turn always gives the drivers a lot of opportunities for overtakes which provides good entertainment for the fans. The brakes are always cool heading into the first turn and as it is a 90-degree turn, it's a truly hectic corner where locking up is quite common.

Turns 8 to 12 are arguably the most difficult part of the circuit as drivers drive their way through the castle section. Too much excitement and power on the curb and the drivers are likely to be in a lot of trouble. It was at turn eight that both Robert Kubica and Charles Leclerc went straight into the wall at this very castle chicane in 2018 qualifying.

Azerbaijan GP: Previous winners

lewis hamilton
Lewis Hamilton was the winner of the 2018 edition.

The Azerbaijan GP is known for its crazy finishes. The 2017 edition of this race was one of the craziest of all time with the title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel dashing into each other, teammates colliding, a once-in-a-lifetime triple overtake by Daniel Ricciardo and a loose headrest of Lewis Hamilton - all having a say in the result of the race.

Lewis Hamilton won the 2018 chaotic Azerbaijan Grand Prix, thanks to a crash calamity between the Red Bulls that inconvenienced Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas suffering from a puncture, his competition was reduced.

The 2019 edition saw Valtteri Bottas winning the Azerbaijan GP and It was a pleasing redemption after a puncture cruelly ended his race the year before with his teammate Lewis Hamilton finishing in second place Mercedes finished 1-2 with Sebastian Vettel long behind in P3.

The result of the 2021 Baku GP was quite unpredictable as both the title rivals, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton had their race ruined. It was Sergio Perez who took the chequered flag first followed by Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly rounding off the podium.

Max Verstappen returned to the Azerbaijan Grand Prix better than ever for the 2022 edition and dominated the circuit. The Ferrari pair Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz both suffered engine problems and had to retire. Red Bull finished 1-2 with Sergio Perez finishing second whilst Mercedes driver George Russell took the last spot on the podium after finishing P3. 

Favourites to win Azerbaijan GP 2023

Formula 1 (F1) Bahrain GP
Team Red Bull will be the favourites

Max Verstappen is the ultimate favourite to win the Azerbaijan GP this year after winning the Australian GP, followed by Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso but considering the history of the circuit and its unpredictable nature, the results can end up entirely different from what was predicted.

One thing which is certain is that this circuit in Azerbaijan GP is always entertaining for the fans and keeps everyone guessing about the winners till the last lap due to its unpredictable nature.