Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2021
4-6th June 2021
Let The Battle For The Championship Commence!
No one could predict the outcome of the Monaco Grand Prix with its array of unpredictable pole positions, crashes and disastrous pit stops and Azerbaijan could again be no exception.
With the Azerbaijan Grand Prix held on the Baku Street Circuit again this year following on from the unique street circuit of Monaco, although Baku provides a very different test to Monaco, the precision needed to stay out of trouble remains the same.
After Max Verstappen’s victory in Monaco and a dramatic weekend for Mercedes, Red Bull is now currently top of the championship but, can they continue their winning streak, or will Mercedes come back fighting?
Baku Circuit Stats
First Grand Prix – 2016
Number of laps – 51 laps
Circuit Length – 6.003km (3.73 miles)
Race Distance – 306.049km (190.171 miles)
Lap Record – 1.43.009 – Charles Leclerc (2019)
The Monaco Grand Prix was Mercedes’s worst race of the year as they slipped behind Red Bull in the title race after Max Verstappen took the victory with Lewis Hamilton finishing a disappointing seventh and Bottas forced to retire from second place due to a torrid pit stop.
It is the first time since the 2018 German GP, F1 heads into a race weekend with Mercedes not at the top of the world championship table. It is also the first time that Verstappen has led the standings in his five years of F1 but the margins at the top remain increasingly close with Verstappen only ahead of seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton by four points and Red Bull only a single point clear of the rivals.
Will The Baku Circuit Be A Mercedes And Red Bull Showdown?
When it comes to F1, we have seen in recent races that anything can happen. Even though Baku City Circuit has only hosted the Grand Prix the past few years they have certainly been entertaining to watch. With no consecutive winners of the circuit, Nico Rosberg, Daniel Ricciardo, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas have each won only once, so who will we see on the podium this year?
Verstappen only has a best finish of fourth to his name at Baku while Mercedes have taken both pole position and victory at three of the four races held on the street circuit since 2016. Despite a dominant race at Monaco which saw Red Bull and Verstappen move up to lead the constructors and drivers’ standings respectively, Verstappen cannot afford to become complacent just yet. He is expecting Mercedes to be more competitive on the streets of Baku than Monaco, while he sets his sights on improving his record at Azerbaijan.
It is also set to be a huge weekend for Sergio Perez driving for Red Bull. He has always done really well in Baku and will have the confidence knowing he is fast here. With this in mind, there could potentially be a Red Bull front row lockout to signify dominance of the team and extend their lead in the championship. Mercedes has the advantage of making a comeback at future conventional racetracks so Red Bull need to open the gap further while they are at an advantage.
With the Baku circuit consisting of one of the longest straights in the entire F1 calendar, the team with the strongest engine naturally has a huge advantage and prior to Azerbaijan, the finger has always seemed to point towards Mercedes. However Red Bull does have several factors in their favour too. With the circuit having a technical sector that can be compared with Monaco, Mercedes proved not to be strong on the street and struggled on slow corners giving Red Bull the advantage to excel in the tight and twisty sections – it’s a tough one to call!
Pirelli Bring the Softest Tyres Available to Baku This Year
With Pirelli bringing the softest tyres available this year, will this be an advantage for Mercedes or Red Bull?
For Red Bull this will probably be good news. In recent years Mercedes have been strong on Pirelli’s hard tyres, whereas Red Bull have been better on soft tyres which seemed to be the case in Monaco.
Mercedes should find Baku more favourable to their car than Monaco due to the long straights, but they definitely have not been as competitive on the softer rubber so far this season.
The Flexi Wings Debate – Will There Be A Protest?
With the road in Baku much wider in places, the corners much faster and the straight almost two kilometres long, the rear wing will play a big role in Baku.
Teams running wings which flex will have the advantage of being able to increase the wing angle to improve cornering performance and will not be compromised by experiencing more drag on the straights. New tests preventing their use will come into force after the race this weekend but the delay by F1 in this being put in place until after the race this weekend is a major argument for the teams not using such wings, primarily Mercedes and McLaren.
This has led to rumours of potential protests from the disadvantaged teams, but this will all depend on where they finish. Mercedes is unlikely to protest if they finish ahead of Red Bull and the same for McLaren if they wipe the floor with Ferrari.
Whether or not the Flexi-wings story escalates into an all-out war, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix will be one to watch across the weekend…
Past Azerbaijan Grand Prix Winners
With so many pros and cons in the mix at this circuit for each of the teams to win or at least make it on the podium at Azerbaijan, who will you be backing?
Azerbaijan Race Schedule (BST)
First Free Practice 09.30 – 10.30
Second Free Practice 13.00 – 14.00
Third Free Practice 10.00 – 11.00
Qualifying 13.00 – 14.00
Race 13.00 – 15.00