Our F1 Insider believes Lewis Hamilton is worth backing to get back on pole position in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Get his verdict plus the lowdown on the weekend schedule.
A month is a long time in Formula 1. After the qualifying sessions for the Australian Grand Prix it appeared that Mercedes would only need to turn up for the remaining rounds to comfortably take both championships. But a strategy fumble there and two underwhelming performances in the races since have thrown their favouritism into doubt.
In Bahrain the track was too hot; in China it was too cold. Will Baku, like Melbourne, be just right? We won't know until (at least) Saturday afternoon but at the odds Lewis Hamilton looks a tempting bet to get his season back on track by qualifying fastest in Azerbaijan. Q3 will be a straight shoot-out between the Ferraris and Mercedes, with the latter's superior energy regeneration technology potentially making the difference at the end of the 2km main straight.
The Haas team began the season with comfortably the fourth-fastest car on the grid. Their two drivers, Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, filled out the fourth row in Melbourne before their races both agonisingly unravelled with fumbled pit stops. Bahrain saw Magnussen again qualify on row four on merit, coming home fifth in the race, while China proved to be Renault territory as the Haas pair found themselves a fraction of a second shy of the yellow cars' outright pace.
Azerbaijan, with its sharp right-angled turns and ultra-long pit straight, should see the pendulum swing back towards the American team, whose Ferrari power units should have the legs of their Renault counterparts here. Magnussen has been more consistent so far but Grosjean's price makes him the better pick for a top six finish at nearly 4/1.
Posted at 0803 GMT on 26/04/18; selections at best available price via oddschecker.com
Azerbaijan Grand Prix: Weekend Schedule & TV Guide
All times BST
Friday April 27
1000: Practice One
1300: Practice Two
Saturday April 28
1100: Practice Three
Sunday April 29
You can watch all the sessions of the Azerbaijan GP weekend live on Sky Sports F1 with highlights on Channel 4.
Azerbaijan Grand Prix: Sky Bet odds
Race winner, pre-weekend:
- Lewis Hamilton: 11/10
- Sebastian Vettel: 9/4
- Valtteri Bottas: 9/1
- Max Verstappen: 9/1
- Daniel Ricciardo: 9/1
- Kimi Raikkonen: 16/1
Pole position, pre-weekend:
- Lewis Hamilton: 6/5
- Sebastian Vettel: 6/4
- Valtteri Bottas: 6/1
- Kimi Raikkonen: 9/1
- Max Verstappen: 25/1
- Daniel Ricciardo: 25/1
Azerbaijan Grand Prix: Track guide
- Venue: Baku City Circuit
- Circuit length 6.003km
- Laps 51
- Race distance: 306.049km
- Number of corners: 20
- Lap record: 1:43.441 (Sebastian Vettel)
- 2017 pole position: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:40.593
- 2017 winner: Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 2:03:55.573
- 2017 fastest lap: Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 1:43.441