The Azerbaijan Grand Prix is back: Who will be in the champagne celebration?

Published on 27 April 2023 at 20:00

After a long 4 weeks with no racing for Formula 1 fans, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix is just around the corner.

Let’s review the facts of the famous street circuit.

The Baku city circuit is 51 laps, with a distance of 6.003KM. Resulting in it being the fourth-longest circuit in the calendar. It is an extremely fast pace circuit with a maximum speed of 209.402mph (337 kph). Drivers make 78 gear changes per lap, making it incredibly intense for the high-performance athletes.


Azerbaijan is one of six sprint races of the 2023 season, shaking up our qualifying Saturday. It has doubled since they introduced sprint races in 2021. The drivers have voiced their opinions alongside having three practice sessions. George Russell spoke up when asked about this in a recent Formula 1 press conference.

“I don’t think it’s right that Formula 1 has three times the amount of practice that you have in the F3 and F2 categories,”

“I wasn’t in favour of the sprint races initially, but having done- how many have we done now? Six, nine, maybe over the two years? I really enjoy the sprint races.”


The other drivers on the panel shared their opinions, all agreeing that it is a personal preference. However, it is good for the entertainment factor for the fans.

So, who are the favourites for the champagne celebration?


Red Bull Racing is the front-runner, with Max Verstappen picking up an impressive two first-place victories within three races and being the Azerbaijan 2022 winner.

Red Bull has proven to be dominant in the past few years by Max Verstappen being a two-time consecutive world champion and also winning the 2022 constructors championship along with his teammate Sergio Perez.

However, there could be an underdog racing for their fourth podium this season. The legend that is Fernando Alonso shocked us all by earning his new team Aston Martin three third-place podiums already, making them second place in the constructor's standings. Alonso, the two-time world champion with Renault, replaced the four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel when he retired after a sixteen-year Formula 1 career. Aston Martin had only had one previous podium, which was won by Vettel. It is safe to say they have struggled since forming the team, but it seems their rookie may be their saving grace.

Mercedes have a good past with the Baku city circuit. In 2019 Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton won Mercedes a one-two podium finish. More recently, George Russell picked up third in 2022, with Lewis Hamilton behind him. That was the sad pattern for the seven-time world champion, finishing behind his rookie teammate in the final standings without a win all 2022 season. However, Hamilton has started stronger this season, placing third in the Australian Grand Prix.

The odds aren’t looking good for Ferrari, with Carlos Sainz receiving a five-second penalty from Australia, also a street circuit. After the appeal with the FIA to try to get it waved was dismissed, he was knocked out of the points. His teammate Charles Leclerc retired on the opening lap, earning Ferrari zero points and problems for the new team principal Frederic Vasseur. It seems as if the 2022 silly season has followed Ferrari.


Weighing up the history, my bets are on Red Bull and Mercedes. Perez is known as a ‘street circuit specialist’, which makes him the favourite to me. He has picked up four of his five wins on city circuits. However, Max Verstappen’s fearless driving won’t let his teammate win easily. Along with Hamilton’s winning past at Azerbaijan, I believe we’re in for a tough battle during this high-speed race.



My predictions:

  • Sergio Perez
  • Max Verstappen
  • Lewis Hamilton


Megan Taylor

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