Trending News

Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2022: Race Predictions

Charles Leclerc will start first after securing the pole position in the final qualifying on Saturday.

Dev Tyagi Author

Updated - 12 June 2022 11:04 am

As Formula 1 arrives from one street course to another, with Monaco done and Baku on the menu, the intrepid Formula 1 fan may not be incorrect in expecting another Red Bull versus Ferrari show.

Although, given the sensational qualifying form Charles Leclerc has shown once again, that may have to be written reversely; for it’ll be Ferrari versus Red Bull, the former with an absolutely clear view of the grid having locked up the front row.

But with Red flags, unforeseen accidents and last lap surprises – what else has Baku, the perennial heart of Azerbaijan Grand Prix, not shown us fans ever since the race’s conception back in 2017?

We’ve seen pretty much everything and that means dramatic incidents such as the 2017 showdown between Hamilton and Vettel, none of whom won the contest with the Briton even doubting whether the German had brake tested him?

We’ve also witnessed an incredible show by the ‘Honeybadger’, with Ricciardo winning a sensational race back in the day here in Baku but not before executing a bold triple overtake move.

Over the course of the years, we’ve seen Kimi on the podium in his usual nonchalance, Perez climbing to the top step of the podium and Vettel asserting his might in taking a brave second last year for Aston Martin.

What could pan out come the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku?

Sainz to challenge Verstappen for the podium finish

Carlos Sainz has been Verstappen’s teammate previously and he knows a thing or two about how to challenge the audacious Dutch driver. Sainz will be clearly racing Verstappen as Checo will be eyeing to take the lead from Leclerc.

It is here where race strategy will come in handy. Even as the Spaniard fails to pass the noted Dutch world champion early on, Ferrari will perhaps leave him out longer than expected to help Leclerc’s strategy (if the Monaco-born goes for the undercut) and cover the Monegasque.

But there’s also an alternate view.

We could be in for an interesting period of play where it’ll be vital to note how Red Bull reacts with Verstappen, should Sainz become the first of the two Ferrari drivers to pit.

Ideally, the 27-year-old Spaniard will want to box and come out ahead of Verstappen and should that happen, with Red Bull boxing Max immediately, he could well challenge the defending world champion driver’s authority.

Sainz will likely trump Verstappen, which will also not be the easiest thing to do.

Vettel will outscore Alonso

The last that Vettel raced here in Baku, it was all smiles in Aston Martin paddock as well as on the second berth on the podium; his fighting second in the end, although assisted by some luck, thanks to Lewis experiencing overheating problems in his Mercedes’ brakes, augured well for the four-time world champion.

But this time around, Vettel, who’d have liked a better qualifying result than his ninth, just ahead of Alonso, will be involved in a closely-fought tussle on Sunday.

Clear of Alonso by just a thousandth of a second, the German, in his bid to keep the veteran legend of F1 racing at bay, would like to ensure a clean getaway. But for that to happen, all eyes will be on the whirlwind scuffle that the leading cars out in front might be involved in.

Remember, Max will give his everything to pass Checo, whilst the Mexican would like to instantly attack Ferrari’s pole-sitter: Leclerc.

Sainz, meanwhile, wouldn’t budge and would like to get involved in the overtaking business.

A lot can happen on the extensively long 2 km main straight of Baku, which is where plenty of action and drama have happened in the past. But it’s here where Vettel’s Aston Martin will defy the Alpine of Alonso, though a car much quicker in the tight corners and slow bends from what the 2022 season has unfurled so far.

Gasly will rule the midfield

Last year, the famous Frenchman had qualified fourth and managed to eke out a fighting third by the end of the chaotic, action packed race in Baku.

But prior to entering the qualifying battle on Saturday, Pierre Gasly mentioned in no uncertain terms about attempting another podium finish here on Sunday.

And while that may or may not happen, what’s clear is that Gasly, who begins the street course from sixth on the grid, will go on to boss the midfield on Sunday.

He will, at some time, come within a fighting distance of Ferrari’s Sainz but whether he gets the better of the Spaniard or not, one thing is certain and it’s that the Alpha Tauri will make life difficult for a titan of racing – the seven time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who begins his Baku Grand Prix tucked in right behind Pierre Gasly.

Don’t be surprised if the famous young French driver salvages a fighting sixth, just nearing Russell, in the end. And should that actually happen, it would provide a huge sigh of relief to a very talented driver who’s not been able to go any better than a P8 as seen in Jeddah.

Remember, Gasly hasn’t been able to score any points in the last three races.

Leclerc will finally salvage a win

No other driver on the current Formula 1 grid has been able to secure more than one pole position here in Baku. But then not every driver out there is a certain Charles Leclerc.

While to his critics, Leclerc’s win ratio is heavily dependent on how far he succeeds at clinching pole and if that view, however biased or one sided, is truly the only account of measuring the Monegasque’s talent, then it should be said that on Sunday, Leclerc has a great chance at winning, for he’s already secured his pole.

By grabbing a fourth pole on the trot and a sixth overall in 2022, there’s little chance to deny Ferrari’s top bloke at the moment, one who we ought to remember, suffered the ignominy of missing out on a deserving win at Monaco a fortnight ago.

So can Charles, who also suffered the agony of being easily passed by both Max and Lewis, in that order the last time around in 2021, reverse his fortunes and seal a win?

You bet!


Join our Family Today!
Prev Next Story