Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2019 Predictions: Who will win the 2019 Azerbaijan GP as Ferrari dominate FP2 on an eventful day in Baku
It is happening again. The pendulum of momentum keeps swinging this season and after a 3 races, we have had Mercedes dominance in race 1 and 3 and Ferrari had a strong performance in race 2 (albeit other issues affecting the final result) and now race 4 has once again seen Ferrari show pace much greater than anyone else on the field.
FP1 of the Azerbaijan GP was brought to a grinding halt in just 10 minutes after a faulty manhole cover on the street circuit had major contact with Alex Albon’s Williams car and caused a lot of damage to the floor of the car that rendered it incapable of going out in FP2. The Williams team can not seem to catch a break and this is another in the series of unfortunate incidents that continues to hamper Albon who must be frustrated as a rookie to see his career get off to such a rocky start. At this point he is racing with only one person in his teammate Robert Kubica and he has been winning that battle with consummate ease.
After the stewards spent most of the allocated FP1 time in clearing the debris and fixing the issue on the track, FP2 remained on track. The 2nd Free Practice went really well for the Team in red as Ferrari, especially Charles Leclerc, were flat out on the track and ended up with a commanding 1-2 with Hamilton coming in 3rd, nearly 7 tenths of a second behind the Ferrari of Leclerc. Bottas finished in the 5th position 0.4 seconds behind Hamilton, with Verstappen splitting the two finishing 0.2 seconds behind Hamilton and ahead of Bottas by the same margin.
Ferrari who have displayed a huge dominance in straight-line speed and Baku has the fastest and longest straight among all the circuits on the F1 calendar. Ferrari was flat out in sectors 1 and 3 of the circuit, with Hamilton producing the fastest middle sector. Mercedes with their higher cornering speed do not get much advantage as Baku has very few fast corners and that is where their advantages lie.
After a severely shortened FP1, the drivers were itching to get out in FP2
— Formula 1 (@F1) April 26, 2019
If Friday gave us any indicators, it shows that Ferrari are going to be dominant this weekend and might have a race that is theirs to lose. Unfortunately for them, they had a similar situation in Bahrain and they did end up losing out to Mercedes and nearly lost out to Verstappen when a double retirement from the Renaults saved Leclerc’s podium.
Bottas and Hamilton both had incidents at turn 2 where they seemed to carry a bit too much pace and would’ve had major crashes had it not been for the outlets to prevent such understeer. Verstappen looked more in control than Bottas did in the entire FP2. There is a long way to go yet, but based on FP2 performance the following is our prediction for the race on Saturday:
Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2019 Predictions
1) Charles Leclerc: still doing a much better job than Vettel, unless Ferrari mess with his race again
2) Sebastian Vettel: not looking comfortable yet, but the pace difference between the Ferraris and other cars is massive and unless Ferrari get their strategy wrong, he can and should help Ferrari get a 1-2 finish
3) Lewis Hamilton: the fastest driver out there outside of Ferrari and he will be looking to pounce on any mistakes by either of the 2 cars, the way he did in Bahrain
4) Max Verstappen: the Red Bull Honda partnership is coming around nicely and Max looks like a driver reborn with less drama and more calmness that has got him results above what his car can do
5) Valteri Bottas: Looked less comfortable in his car and has been dipping in his form recently after starting the season so well.
6) Piere Gasly: Red Bull’s are faster than all the cars left on the grid and while Gasly didn’t have the greatest FP2 finishing in 9, his car is too fast to lose out to the Toro Rosso’s and McLaren as long as Gasly can keep his head like he did in China.
7) Carlos Sainz: Sainz has had a tough season so far with unfortunate incidents ruining his last 2 races, but he has been doing very well otherwise and barring 3 consecutive race of misfortune, he will be the best of the rest.
8) Daniil Kvyat: Toro Rosso is showing really good pace and Kvyat has a good head on his shoulders to make use of it.
9) Lando Norris: The F1 feel good story of the season so far, who already has a points finish on a track where his car looked slower than this.
10) Alex Albon: Another impressive rookie in the second Toro Rosso.