2021 Azerbaijan GP Preview - Can Red Bull maintain the gap at the top?

Formula One returns to the Azerbaijan capital Baku this weekend, following a weekend in Monaco a fortnight ago, which wrote another chapter in the F1's most historic race.

This weekend will see one of F1's more recent, however, no less exciting tracks come back onto the calendar, following the absence from the 2020 calendar, like other street circuits on the calendar.

Last time out 

The last time the cars took to the track, it was on the streets of Monte Carlo, as Max Verstappen managed to be the beneficiary of yet another year of ill fortune for Charles Leclerc, who failed to start the Grand Prix. The Monegasque driver had a heavy crash after his pole-securing lap on Saturday, with repercussions coming to light on his out lap to the grid on Sunday. As a result, the Dutchman would inherit a theoretical pole.

The Grand Prix played out like many Monaco GP's before, with very few overtakes happening as the race went on. Two flashpoints will stick in the memories of the viewers, one being the misfortune that struck Valtteri Bottas during his pitstop, the other being Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly's side by side racing up the hill, resulting in Vettel taking his best result for Aston Martin to date.

Bottas's pitstop would be resolved three days later, making it, theoretically, one of the longest pitstops in F1 history. The Finn came into for a standard stop, only to find that the front right of the car wasn't leaving the car. As it turned out the wheel gun had fused the wheel to the axel of the car, meaning Lando Norris in the McLaren managed to secure third place, making it two podiums already for the Woking outfit.

Last visit to Baku

In a similar turn of events to the Monaco GP, the last time the mechanical circus visited Baku was back in 2019, given the street circuit was unavailable for the 2020 race due to the calendar changes as a result of the COVID- 19 Pandemic.

It was Bottas who took the chequered flag on the streets of Baku in 2019, with teammate Lewis Hamilton and Vettel making up the other two podium positions.

Four drivers failed to make it to the end of the race, Gasly would bow out with a driveshaft issue, Romain Grosjean would have his breaks fail in the Haas as well. Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat would bow out too, as the pair ended up colliding on one of the slip roads after braking too deep into the corner.

Track Profile 

Being a fraction over six kilometers long, the Baku track has produced some great memories for fans of the sport in the short time the track has been on the calendar. Two that will stick in the mind both involve Daniel Ricciardo. The Aussie would be the hero and the villain in back-to-back years, with him completing a triple overtake into turn one in 2017, however, in 2018 he would collide with teammate Verstappen, leaving both cars out of the race.

Since the teams were last here there have been changes made to the track, one area that has seen some changes will be turn 8, more commonly known as "The Castle Section". Sky Sports Anthony Davidson said that the changes to the corner are likely to make it "Quicker than ever", making one of the tightest corners in F1, even more tricky.

Viewing Times 

Friday 4th June 2021

Free Practice 1: 09:30 - 10:30 BST

Free Practice 2: 13:00 - 14:00 BST

Saturday 5th June 2021

Free Practice 3: 10:00 - 11:00 BST

Qualifying: 13:00 - 14:00 BST

Sunday 6th June 2021

Race: 13:00 - 15:00 BST

 

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