Mercedes should be the favorites once again for Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix (8 a.m. ET/ESPN 2) but this weekend is a race where we could have an unlikely winner.
Yes, Mercedes has gone 1-2 in all three races this season and have won two of the three stops to the Baku street course. Yes, Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull have combined to win every race since the second event of the 2013 (120 races). But, this could be their stopping point.
As crazy as that sounds, just look at their six drivers’ past history in Baku. Lets start with Mercedes.
Lewis Hamilton won last year but that’s his only podium in three tries. He was fifth in the other two races. His teammate Valtteri Bottas finished runner-up in 2017 but was sixth and 14th respectively in his other two tries.
Hamilton is +175 while Bottas is +275 this weekend.
Then there’s Ferrari.
Sebastian Vettel is +200 but only has one podium in Baku and that came back in 2016. He was fourth in each of the last two years and has scored just one podium all season (3rd in China). He was fourth and fifth respectively in the other two races in 2019. Trends say he will finish fourth or fifth on Sunday.
Charles LeClerc has finished fifth, third and fifth respectively this season and was sixth in his Sauber in this race last year. He’s +325 for Sunday’s race and trend say he will finish between third and fifth again.
This leaves the door open for Red Bull. Daniel Ricciardo won this race for them in 2017 but retired last year in a crash with Max Verstappen and was seventh in 2016. He’s now moved onto Renault for 2019 leaving Verstappen and Pierre Gasly with the team.
Verstappen, has never finished in the top five in Baku with a career best result of eighth in 2016. He retired in each of his last two starts there.
Gasly, has yet to score a top five this season and was 12th in this race last season. Verstappen is +1000 while Gasly is +10000.
Says a lot about their chances.
So, who’s left then?
For whatever reason, Baku is a track that produces some unlikely podium finishers. Sergio Perez took Force India to a podium finish in two of the last three years. Lance Stroll, when he was at Williams, was on the podium in 2017 too.
Now, both are teammates with Racing Point (formerly Force India). Can they steal a podium result on Sunday?
Perez, was third in 2016 and 2018 and has two straight top 10 finishes on the year. In fact, he’s gotten better by the race. He was 13th in Australia then 10th in Bahrain. He went from 10th (Bahrain) to eighth (China). He’s due for a good run again.
Stroll, has finished third and eighth respectively on this track and could be in play for another top 10 on Sunday.
Their odds are +200000 (Perez) and +250000 (Stroll).
Sounds like good odds to me.
Haas has said that they may struggle this weekend, so take them out of it. Romain Grosjean has never scored a top 10 in Baku and has failed to finish better than 11th all year. His teammate Kevin Magnussen has finishes of sixth, 13th and 13th respectively this year and has just one top 10 (7th) in three Baku starts.
Williams is Williams and Toro Rosso isn’t quite there yet. McLaren or Sauber are your next best bets with Carlos Sainz Jr. (+150000) finishing eighth and seventh respectively in each of his last two Baku starts but he’s never had a top 10 all season. His teammate Lando Norris is a rookie this year with one top 10 in 2019.
Kimi Raikkonen has two top four finishes in Baku including a runner-up last year. He has three straight top 10 finishes on the season and is +50000. He’s driving a car that finished sixth last year. If chaos ensues again, Raikkonen, Perez and Stroll may steal something here and win a ton of money for bettors.