Venue: Baku City Circuit
Valtteri Bottas was unlucky not to win in Baku 12 months ago and is rated a value bet to gain compensation there this year in our Azerbaijan Grand Prix predictions.
The flying Finn was ahead of Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton until suffering a tyre puncture on lap 49 of 51 and could not complete the course.
Hamilton admitted: “Valtteri deserved to win, he did an exceptional job and had a faultless drive. I would not have got by him in the remaining laps if he hadn’t had his tyre blow.”
With Bottas having made a solid start to this season, he appeals at 13/4 for our Azerbaijan Grand Prix betting tips.
Mercedes have taken advantage of some familiar Ferrari technical failings to secure one-two finishes in each of the opening three races.
Bottas led the way in Australia and, although having to settle for second best behind Hamilton in Bahrain and China, there have been further encouraging signs.
Hamilton was slower than Bottas all weekend in Shanghai, but when it came to the crunch, he blasted past the Finn at the start and controlled the race.
However, Bottas is only six points behind in the early title standings and there is no suggestion that Hamilton will be given any favourable treatment by Mercedes at this point.
How the Chinese Grand Prix finished
1 Hamilton (Mercedes), 2 Bottas (Mercedes), 3 Vettel (Ferrari), 4 Verstappen (Red Bull), 5 Leclerc (Ferrari), 6 Gasly (Red Bull), 7 Ricciardo (Renault), 8 Perez (Racing Point), 9 Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo), 10 Albon (Toro Rosso), 11 Grosjean (Haas), 12 Stroll (Racing Point), 13 Magnussen (Haas), 14 Sainz (McLaren), 15 Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo), 16 Russell (Williams), 17 Kubica (Williams), DNF Norris (McLaren), Kvyat (Toro Rosso), Hulkenberg (Renault)
After the Chinese Grand Prix, Bottas commented: “For us, as a team, it’s really been a perfect start to the season.
“For me personally, this has been a bit disappointing, as I was on pole but then lost the race at the start.
“There’s a white line just outside the starting box and I had some wheelspin when I went over it and lost the position to Lewis.
“It’s all about details in this sport, so unfortunately that detail decided the rest of the race.
“On the positive side, we did have a strong race pace here in Shanghai, much better than in Bahrain. I think that we’re in a good position, but we need to keep pushing.”
Baku’s exceptionally long straight may suit the powerful Ferrari cars, but there are too many question marks over driver performance and reliability to tempt us in at this stage.
Past Azerbaijan Grand Prix winners:
2018 Hamilton (Mercedes), Raikkonen (Ferrari), Perez (Force India)
2017 Ricciardo (Red Bull), Bottas (Mercedes), Stroll (Williams)
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