In Review

F1 Azerbaijan GP guide: practice, qualifying, predictions, start time, TV, odds

Lewis Hamilton aims for an improved performance in Baku this weekend

2019 Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

  • What: race No.4 on the F1 2019 calendar 
  • When: 26-28 April 2019
  • Where: Baku City Circuit, Baku, Azerbaijan 
  • Race start time: 1.10pm on Sunday 28 April 
  • TV channels: live on Sky Sports F1 and highlights on Channel 4

Lewis Hamilton heads to the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in top spot of the 2019 drivers’ standings but the Mercedes ace feels that he must improve his performance in Baku this weekend.

After a second-placed finish in Australia and victories in Bahrain and China Hamilton leads the drivers’ championship with 68 points. His Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas is second on 62 points.  

Speaking to Sky Sports F1 ahead of Sunday’s street race at the Baku City Circuit the British five-time world champion said: “It’s a really great track and it’s one that I’ve honestly struggled at a little bit, particularly last year.

“It will be interesting, and I’m going there with a mindset that I’ve got to try and improve my previous years’ performance.

“I was fortunate to get the win there last year but I wasn’t quick enough really through the weekend. So that’s a place I expect Valtteri to be quick and I expect the Ferraris to be particularly quick.”

Upgrades for Ferrari in Baku

With Mercedes achieving three 1-2s in the three opening races of 2019 Ferrari are 57 points behind the champions in the constructors’ standings.

In response to their disappointing start to the campaign the Scuderia have confirmed that the SF90 car will feature some updates this weekend.

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto told F1.com: “We are bringing a few updates to Baku, as the first step in the development of the SF90.

“Coming off the back of three races that definitely didn’t go the way we wanted, this GP is another important moment for us.”

What the drivers and teams are saying ahead of the Baku street race

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

“Azerbaijan is one of my favourite tracks of the season, I simply love it and I’ve always performed very well there, having won and got another podium finish in Formula 2 and also scored my first Formula 1 points last year. “I always enjoy driving on it, especially the castle part with all those tight corners. It’s a unique track, you cannot find anything like it anywhere else in the world, so it’s pretty special. “The rule is quite simple: never lose focus during the race otherwise at the first mistake you’re in the wall. Baku is a demanding track, but I can’t wait.”

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari

“This 6km circuit has the longest straight on the calendar, 2.2km, where we reach 360kph before the very heavy braking for the first slow left hand turn. The steep climb past the old city walls is only seven metres wide, which feels very tight in a Formula 1 car - you feel like you are threading a needle.” 

Sergio Perez, Racing Point

“Baku has become one of my favourite races of the year. It’s a quick lap with good overtaking opportunities and that seems to generate lots of drama. I love the lap and it’s a real challenge for the drivers because the walls are close and you have to be so precise. Street circuits generally really test the drivers and I actually wish we had more on them on the calendar.”

Lance Stroll, Racing Point

“I’m really pumped for this weekend in Baku. It’s a circuit I enjoy and a race with happy memories for me. I scored my first podium there in 2017 and I picked up points last year too. Baku is one of those races where you have to take your chances and make those opportunities count.”

Carlos Sainz, McLaren

“Baku is one of my favourite circuits on the calendar, it’s an unpredictable track but that’s what makes it so exciting. You can always sense that all drivers look forward to this race, because everyone knows there could be an opportunity for something special. Last year I had a great race in Baku finishing fifth. My ambition is always to improve, at every track, every season, so hopefully we’ll have a clean race and can perform strongly. It’s been a frustrating start to the championship, with too much going on out of my control, but that is also part of racing. I’m determined to keep pushing no matter what and remain patient. Hard work, positive attitude and dedication always pay off.”

Lando Norris, McLaren

“Back to Baku! I had an interesting weekend there last year in F2, but I’m looking forward to running that long straight in an F1 car. It’s an exciting track and I’m hoping it will give me a more exciting race than China, if we’re lucky we’ll have the chance to score some points. This street circuit is a little less forgiving than Australia and small mistakes can be punished harshly, so my focus is on avoiding that wherever possible. I want to be fighting for the duration of the race.”

Robert Kubica, Williams

“The circuit looks challenging from what I watched last year, and definitely one of the most demanding tracks. It will be my first time driving there. In the past, I really enjoyed driving around these types of circuits, so I look forward to getting the same feeling I did in the past.”

George Russell, Williams

“I am really looking forward to going to Baku. Last year in FIA Formula 2 it was probably my strongest weekend and we should have won both races. I was leading the first one but had an unfortunate incident at the end of the race after a safety car and then came back to win the second race from P12 on the grid. I have great memories there, so I am looking forward to getting back to the street circuit of Baku.”

Toto Wolff, Mercedes team principal

“Three 1-2s in the first three races represent a fantastic start to the season. We were able to maximise our opportunities, although we didn’t always have the fastest car. The next stop will take us to Azerbaijan where we’ve seen some very entertaining races in recent years and I’m sure that this year will be no different. The layout of the track presents unique challenges and it will be interesting to see which team will find the best compromise to deal with the mixture of long straights and slow corners. Baku is not purely about performance, though, and staying out of trouble is also important for a good result in Azerbaijan.”

Gil de Ferran, sporting director, McLaren

“The city circuit’s mix of 90-degree corners, technical middle sector and long final straight create a unique challenge in Formula 1, and rarely do we see the cars reaching such high speeds on a street circuit. In many respects it is one of the most challenging venues we go to. A street race brings that extra degree of uncertainty, so race strategy is also challenging. Our pit-stop performances have been very good this year, so continuing to execute well on both of these fronts is certainly our goal.”

2019 F1 Azerbaijan GP race guide

  • Circuit: Baku City Circuit 
  • First grand prix: 2016 
  • Number of laps: 51 
  • Circuit length: 6.003km 
  • Race distance: 306.049km 
  • Lap record: 1:43.441 by Sebastian Vettel in 2017 
  • 2018 podium: 1st Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes); 2nd Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari); 3rd Sergio Pérez (Force India)
When are the practice sessions?

There are three full practice (FP) sessions in Baku. On Friday 26 April FP1 takes place at 10am and FP2 is at 2pm. FP3 will be at 11am on Saturday 27 April. All times UK.

When is qualifying?

Qualifying for the F1 Azerbaijan GP starts at 2pm on Saturday 27 April.

What time does the race start?

The 2019 F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix starts at 1.10pm (UK time) on Sunday 28 April.

Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton

Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images

Azerbaijan GP predictions

Matthew Atkinson, The Stats Zone - Charles Leclerc (Ferrari): “Baku really should suit the Ferrari, with long straights and very low speed corners. They look the team to beat, but then most commentators said the same heading into China. For the good of the sport, we need to see Ferrari winning races, as Mercedes are already running away with it. The downforce advantage of Mercedes should be significantly reduced in Baku, therefore, the prediction is for Charles Leclerc to win, but as with China, it is very possible Lewis Hamilton, in a slower car, somehow manages to pull off another unlikely win or that Ferrari continues to throw it away.”

Anish Vishwakoti, Sportskeeda - Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes): “Currently second in the world title race, Valtteri Bottas had a blistering outing in Australia but didn’t show the same pizzazz in Bahrain and China. With the pressure on to get ahead of his team-mate, and the memory of the win that was almost his in Baku last year, we see the Finn taking the opportunity in the chaos to get ahead of the rest of the top team drivers.”

Azerbaijan GP betting odds

Prices according to Oddschecker, as of 24 April.

Azerbaijan GP race winner odds
  • Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes): 15/8 
  • Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari): 11/4 
  • Charles Leclerc (Ferrari):  7/2 
  • Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes): 9/2 
  • Max Verstappen (Red Bull): 22/1 
  • Pierre Gasly (Red Bull): 100/1 
  • Daniel Ricciardo (Renault): 750/1 
  • Sergio Perez (Racing Point): 750/1

Azerbaijan GP TV guide

Sky Sports F1 will show live coverage of practice, qualifying and the GP from Baku. Channel 4 will show highlights of qualifying and the race. All times UK.

Watch on Now TV

F1 fans can also watch the action live on Now TV. Viewers can subscribe to a Sky Sports F1 season ticket via Now TV for all race weekends in 2019. A one-off payment costs £195 - the equivalent of £5 per week.

Sky Sports F1 coverage of the Azerbaijan GP Thursday 25 April  
  • 2pm: Drivers’ Press Conference live - Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo), Kevin Magnussen (Haas), Lance Stroll (Racing Point), Nico Hulkenberg (Renault), George Russell (Williams) 
  • 4pm: Welcome to the Weekend live
Friday 26 April
  • 9.45am: practice one build-up (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event) 
  • 10am: practice one live (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event) 
  • 1.45pm: practice two build-up (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event) 
  • 2pm: practice two live (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event) 
  • 4pm: Azerbaijan GP: story so far live  
Saturday 27 April
  • 10.45am: practice three build-up 
  • 11am: practice three live 
  • 12.10pm: Paddock Walkabout live 
  • 1pm: Azerbaijan GP qualifying build-up 
  • 2pm: Azerbaijan GP qualifying live 
  • 3.45pm: The F1 Show live (also shown on Sky One at 10am on Sunday)
Sunday 28 April
  • 11.30am: Azerbaijan GP Pit Lane live 
  • 12.30pm: Azerbaijan GP On The Grid live 
  • 1.10pm: 2019 F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix live 
  • 3pm: Azerbaijan GP paddock live 
  • 4pm: Azerbaijan GP: The Notebook live 
  • 4.30pm: Azerbaijan GP full race replay
Channel 4 coverage of the Azerbaijan GP
  • Saturday 27 April: 6.30pm-8pm qualifying highlights 
  • Sunday 28 April: 7pm-9pm race highlights

Circuit graphic: Formula1.com

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