This weekend, Formula 1 returns to the Baku City Circuit at Azerbaijan, a race that has had a different winner every single year. The menacing street circuit has both the longest straight and one of the slowest corners on the calendar, presenting drivers and teams with a unique challenge.
According to the F1 odds at Betway, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen is the favorite to win the Grand Prix, followed by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez.
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Azerbaijan Grand Prix Odds
Odds as of June 8 at Betway
Max Verstappen Favored To Win The Azerbaijan Grand Prix
The fact that the Baku City Circuit is riddled with 90-degree corners and some of the longest straights on the calendar means that Red Bull and Max Verstappen are in prime position to take home maximum points.
That’s because the Red Bull, with its high-drag, low-downforce setup, is built specifically so that the Red Bull is the quickest car on straights and offers the least amount of tire degradation.
Beyond the car, however, Verstappen will be looking to make up for a relatively disappointing result at Monaco. Max’s teammate Sergio Perez took victory at the famous Monaco Grand Prix, and seemingly put the narrative around him being the No. 2 driver to rest.
This should serve as extra motivation for Verstappen to deliver at Baku and swing the momentum in the garage back in his favor.
Further down the paddock, the Ferrari team will be looking to bounce back from their fumble at Monaco with a strong result at Baku. But given the Ferrari’s high-downforce setup, which could lead to higher tire degradation, it remains to be seen whether the Ferrari will be able to hold on to its position under pressure from a Red Bull car toward the end of the race.
Azerbaijan Grand Prix Underdog Pick
Red Bull principal Christian Horner said it best: Fifteen points – Verstappen’s lead over Sergio Perez – is nothing, especially at this stage of the season with nearly two-thirds of the races still to go.
To say that Perez’s performances have been noteworthy would be an understatement, with the Mexican finishing in the top five in six of the previous seven races.
He has also secured one pole position, one race win and two second-place finishes. Perez’s performances have not only put him in the championship battle but have also elevated Red Bull to the top of the constructors championship table.
Moreover, he has had good success at the Baku City Circuit, having taken victory in 2021 and a podium in the much slower Force India back in 2018.
His stellar recent performances and the level of comfort he has displayed behind the wheel of the Red Bull are both good reasons to believe that Perez – at +600 to win the race – is a sleeper favorite to win the Grand Prix at Baku.
Azerbaijan Grand Prix Betting Strategy
Despite the optimism surrounding how well suited the Red Bull seemingly is to the Baku City Circuit, the fact remains that Ferrari has secured five pole positions over the last seven races.
So, Red Bull should have their work cut out for them at the race. Moreover, there could be a battle between Verstappen and Perez, which could give other teams an incentive to take advantage.
Another thing to keep an eye on is whether Ferrari will strike a better balance in their setup between downforce and straight-line speed. If they do, things could get really interesting as the race wears on.
In the end, though, considering their setup and recent performances, it comes as no surprise that Max Verstappen has the best odds to win the race at Baku.
Shoutout to Fernando Alonso, who will break Michael Schumacher’s record for the longest career in F1 this weekend. Following the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, the two-time world champion will have competed in Formula 1 for over 21 years!
Monaco, the venue for the previous race, is a track where Monaco local Charles Leclerc has had very poor luck over the years and the trend continued in 2022, with Leclerc finishing outside the podium positions in P4.
Leclerc’s result was a bit of a shocker, because Monaco has historically been a race where overtaking is difficult, meaning the pole sitter is most likely to win the race. So, given Leclerc’s dominant performance in qualifying, the race was his to lose, in many respects.
The Monaco Grand Prix highlighted that championship mettle is all about the disproportionate returns garnered by obsessing over even the finest of details, and underscored Ferrari’s deficiencies in this aspect.
The six-kilometer-long Baku City Circuit presents a mixture of wide straights and twisty corners. The incredibly long main straight along the Baku shoreline presents drivers with a terrific opportunity to catch a good slipstream, which is a trait that is often exploited in qualifying.
Moreover, three cars are able to simultaneously go through Turn 1, leading to a ton of late-braking drama.
Following the faster parts of the circuit, the track heads into the medieval parts of town, going through one of the most challenging corners on the calendar – Turns 8 and 9, which take the driver past the castle section.
Given the nature of the circuit, Red Bull will be strong through the faster sections, while Ferrari’s superior downforce will give them the advantage through the twisty corners.
However, the Baku City Circuit is punishing on the tires, and given Ferrari’s high tire degradation over the course of the race, Leclerc and Carlos Sainz could struggle to get good performance toward the end of the race.