FLASH:This race has produced some of the series’ best competition in recent years
Azerbaijan’s Baku Street Circuit is the venue for the 4th Grand Prix of the 2019 F1 World Championship season and, after a dull race last time out in China, fans are looking to the Baku streets provide the entertainment value of recent races in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan has been the race of the season in each of the past 2 years in F1.
In Y 2017, Ferrari’s (NYSE:RACE) Sebastian Vettel lost hit and drove into the side of Lewis Hamilton behind the safety car and was penalized. That was before Mr. Hamilton’s headrest came loose and the MercedesAMG driver was forced to pit to replace the safety device.
Messers Hamilton and Vettel shared the same part of the track when he returned and the battle resumed.
Daniel Ricciardo benefited to win, and Lance Stroll for Williams was narrowly beaten to 2nd by Valtteri Bottas.
Last year’s race offered drama too, and the Baku street circuit layout is rapidly becoming a favorite of both fans and drivers.
Heading into this weekend, the situation remains similar to that of 2 weeks ago in China.
Ferrari needs to bring a strong game or MercedesAMG will continue to drive into the Sunset with a 6th consecutive title.
After 3 races, MercedesAMG already has a 57-point lead over 2nd-place Ferrari in the constructors’ championship.
Mr. Hamilton leads the driver standings by 6 points over teammate Valtteri Bottas and 29 points over 3rd-place Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing.
In the opening stages of the season, Ferrari has shown that its Key weakness is an inability to change. For years, The Scuderia has operated with a strict #1 and #2 driver pecking order.
The chief beneficiary of this system back in the day was Michael Schumacher, who won 5 consecutive championships (2000-2004). Felipe Massa, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and Seb Vettel have all had a turn at benefiting from the policy at different times since.
Ferrari has anointed former champion Vettel, 31 anni, as its #1 driver, stating this publicly on numerous occasions despite the fact that the newcomer to the team, Charles Leclerc, 21 anni, has been the faster driver more often than not so far this season.
There will come a time in here where Ferrari will have to acknowledge that Mr. Leclerc could be its best shot at a title and switch preference, even if this means Mr. Vettel walks away from the team at the end of the year.
With no Top drives thought to be available elsewhere for Y 2020 though, it is a safe bet that he would have no option but to stay where he is regardless of his position within the team albeit with a $50-M annual stipend.
Circuit name: Baku Street Circuit
Circuit length: 3.73 miles
Race distance: 190.17 miles
Fastest race lap: 1:43.441 (Sebastian Vettel 2017)
2018 pole time: 1:41.498 (Sebastian Vettel)
Last year’s action
The drama began early with Kimi Raikkonen and Esteban Ocon coming together at the same point 2X in the 1st 2 laps. Sergio Perez, Fernando Alonso and Sergey Sirotkin tangled, and the safety car made an early appearance as debris was cleared from the track.
The race slowed a bit after these early exchanges as drivers suddenly remembered the concrete walls lining the track and the damage they could cause to their cars.
This was until Lap 40, at least. Max Verstappen had passed Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo using DRS along the main straight, but Ricciardo had none of it and made a dive up the inside into Turn 1. Mr. Verstappen closed the door late and a 4-5 finish became a 2X retirement in a matter of moments.
Mr. Bottas’ car tire suffered a puncture on the restart, as Messrs Hamilton, Raikkonen and Perez made up the Podium order.
Ferrari is the Aristocrat of the automotive sector.
HeffX-LTN overall technical outlook for RACE is Bullish across the board, and there is very little resistance here and none above 140.26. All of our Key indicators are Very Bullish in here.