Hamilton favourite but street-circuit woe makes Vettel appeal
The latest round of the enthralling 2017 Formula One season takes us to Azerbaijan.
And after victory in Canada, Lewis Hamilton is back in the groove.
His crushing victory in Montreal moved the three-time champion to within 12 points of title rival Sebastian Vettel, and the Mercedes man heads to Baku as odds-on favourite for the win.
However, as we suggested ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix, the value lies with the German and his Ferrari at 2/1.
The Baku City Circuit is a street event with some notoriously tricky sections and lengthy straights.
It all makes for a mighty dilemma for teams and engineers over how to set up their cars in Azerbaijan.
And that’s a particular concern for Hamilton and Mercedes.
This year’s W08 has proved a troublesome beast. There’s little argument that when in the sweet spot, it’s the fastest car on the grid.
But whereas Ferrari can get up and go at any circuit in any conditions, the Merc just can’t do the same.
And it’s certainly worth noting that in two of this year’s street circuits this season – Russia and Monaco – Ferrari were quicker.
Admittedly Valtteri Bottas prevailed in Sochi, but to defend a Vettel challenge he had to turn his Mercedes power unit up to a level which caused it to blow up in the next round in Spain.
And in both of those street events, Hamilton finished off the podium.
Even in Canada last time around, it was widely regarded that Ferrari had the edge in race pace, but a disastrous opening few laps for the Scuderia meant we never got to find out.
The Brit endured a difficult time of it in Baku 12 months ago too. While he was rapid in practice, a dismal qualifying session which ended in a crash left him 10th.
A technical problem hampered his progress on race day, and Hamilton only came fifth when the chequered flag fell.
This title race has swung to and fro all year long, and we’re expecting that to continue this weekend, with Ferrari coming back to the fore.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing