The sixth round of the 2021 Formula 1 World Championship will be the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix at the Baku Street Circuit. This time, Max Verstappen and Red Bull will enter the weekend leading the World Driversâ Championship and the World Constructorsâ Championship by four and one point, respectively.
Verstappen is leading the World Driversâ Championship for the first time in his seven-year Formula 1 career, and Red Bull is at the top of the constructorsâ standings for the first time in the hybrid era.
At Monaco, in the previous race, Verstappen won the race after a solid drive from P1 since the start, as pole sitter Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) was not able to start the race due to a driveshaft issue. On his side, Mercedesâ Lewis Hamilton lost his 14-point WDC lead after a bad weekend left him in seventh place, though he did score the Fastest Lap point.
Red Bullâs fight with Mercedes might have some more drama in the upcoming race at Baku, as the saga of the flexible rear wings (which are supposedly banned) might have another chapter, with Mercedes possibly lodging a protest against the Austrian team, mainly.
At Baku, the flexible wings could give a solid advantage to any team, as the seemingly endless Baku straight provides the highest acceleration zone of the entire F1 calendar.
Fight for P3 in the WCC
McLaren (with Lando Norris and a struggling Daniel Ricciardo) and Ferrari (Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz) will resume their fight for P3 in the World Constructorsâ Championship. But this round might have McLaren being more competitive than its rivals, as the Mercedes engines on the back of the MCL35M might give the Woking-based team an advantage over the Scuderia Ferrari.
Ferrari is coming off of the teamâs first podium of the season with Carlos Sainzâs P2 at Monaco. And though they might not be favourites to be the third force at Azerbaijan, the Baku City Circuit is simply a difficult track that could give opportunities to anyone who knows how to take advantage of those chances.
Aston Martin (Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll), AlphaTauri (Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda) and Alpine (Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon) remain locked in on a tremendous fight for P5 in the WCC, with the three outfits separated by only two points. Positions between them can change seemingly on every lap of every GP, and scoring solid points is huge for any team at this point.
Alfa Romeo (Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi) grabbed it’s first point of the season at Monaco with Giovinazziâs solid P10, while Williams (George Russell and Nicholas Latifi) and Haas (Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin) have not entered the Top 10 in any round so far in the season.
2021 Azerbaijan GP Facts & Figures
This will be the fourth Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Formula 1 history, as the race entered the World Championship in 2017. The first two Azerbaijan GPs were packed with emotions and several crashes, while the 2019 race was a little more normal, though the weekend had some drama with Charles Leclerc crashing his Ferrari in Q2 while looking as the favourite for Pole and win.
Along with the 2016 European Grand Prix, the first race celebrated at Baku, there have been four different winners at the worldâs fastest street circuit. Nico Rosberg won in 2016 for Mercedes, while Daniel Ricciardo gave Red Bull its only success at Baku the following year. Lewis Hamilton grabbed a lucky win for Mercedes in 2018, before Valtteri Bottas won from Pole Position in 2019.
The site has not been favourable for many teams and drivers, as, for example, Force India/Racing Point have scored more points at Baku than Red Bull has in the first four races at Azerbaijan.
Every team in the grid has scored points at Baku between 2016 and 2019, and the event can be a big opportunity for anyone this weekend, mainly because cars are extremely close to the walls in the middle sector and a lot can occur in such a hard track.
Baku City Circuit info
The Baku City Circuit is the second-longest track in the calendar, after Spa-Francorchamps, with 6.003 kilometres.
The layout definitely provides a big challenge for teams and drivers in terms of setup, as it has 20 corners that include very low turns, but also has the longest acceleration zone of the entire calendar, with the final sector and the start of the first account for a 2.2 km âstraightâ.
The start-finish straight provides a huge overtaking opportunity, but it is also tricky to stay close to a car in the last few corners before the acceleration zone. In 2017, we saw a stunning fight to the line between Bottasâ Mercedes and Lance Strollâs Williams. The Finn driver finally overtook the Canadian right at the line to take P2 in the race. We could see some situations like that if we have a close race in the final stages.
There have been four different winners at Baku (Rosberg, Ricciardo, Hamilton and Bottas), and four different pole sitters: Rosberg, Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Bottas.
The track will host its fifth Formula 1 race, and the fourth Azerbaijan Grand Prix (the 2016 race was the European GP).
The lap record at Baku is held by Charles Leclerc, with a 1:43.009 min in the 2019 race. The outright Fastest Lap was Bottasâ pole lap from 2019, a 1:40.495 min effort on the Mercedes W10.
2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix – Tyre Compounds
The dry tyres for the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix will be the C3 as P Zero White hard, C4 as P Zero Yellow Medium, and C5 as P Zero Red soft, which is Pirelliâs softest choice for the year, which makes its second consecutive appearance in 2021.
Pirelli explained its choice with a press release: âThis choice has been made in order to introduce an extra strategic element: last time, the hard compound wasnât used at all during the race. Going a step softer now brings the hard choice into play and encourages more variety in the strategies. The track surface on the Baku street circuit is one of the less aggressive in terms of asphalt roughness and does not take a lot of energy out of the tyres, making the softest compounds in the range an optimal choice.â
Mario Isola, Pirelliâs head of motorsport, further explained Pirelliâs tyre choice for the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix:
âFrom one unique circuit to another: Baku provides a very different test to Monaco, but the precision needed to stay out of trouble is similar. For the first time we bring the very softest tyres in the range to Azerbaijan, as also seen in Monte Carlo. The reason for this nomination is that the hard wasnât used at all in the Baku race in 2019, whereas the medium was used extensively. By re-aligning the nominations, we hope to see all three compounds playing an important role and leading to some different strategies.â
The minimum starting pressures for the tyres will be 20.0 PSI (front) and 19.0 PSI (rear).
Pirelli will give each driver the fixed allocation of eight sets of soft tyres, three sets of medium tyres, and two sets of hard tyres.
2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix Weather Forecast
Thursday, June 4th – FP1 & FP2
Max. temperature: 27Â°C
Chance of rain: 0%
Wind: 29 kph
Sunday, June 6th – Race
Conditions: Windy and cloudy
Max. temperature: 26Â°C
Chance of rain: 10%
Wind: 37 kph
Who will be on the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix Podium?
The Azerbaijan Grand Prix and the 2016 European Grand Prix at Baku have given us some mixed podiums over the years. Red Bull won the 2017 event with Daniel Ricciardo, but that is the only podium achieved by the Austrian team at the track, while Williams had one with Lance Stroll in 2017, and Force India had a couple with Sergio PÃ©rez in 2016 and 2018.
Now with Red Bull, PÃ©rez could be in front of a great opportunity for him to maybe even go all the way at Baku this time. The Mexican will need to return to his qualifying form shown at Imola to have a great chance on Sunday, where heâs looked much better this year.
Of course, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton are the favourites for this race, as they have been for every race so far this year. Their fight for the championship could continue to heat up, and Hamilton is now the hunter in the WDC, with a disadvantage of four points.
Bottas has done great at Baku before, with P6 for Williams in 2016, P2 in 2017, and a win in 2019. In the 2018 event, Bottas was on course to win the race after a late Safety Car rewarded his pace with the lead, but a puncture after running over debris put an end to his Sunday. He should be a big player this weekend at Baku.
Out of the Red Bull-Mercedes struggle, McLaren and Ferrari should be closely match, but the Woking team might have an advantage with a car that has better straight line speed, but the Ferrari should do tremendously well in the middle sector’s slow turns.
The top three prediction for the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix is 1. Max Verstappen, 2. Sergio PÃ©rez, 3. Lewis Hamilton.
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