Since 2017, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix has lived up to the hype that it failed to meet in its inaugural 2016 race under the European GP name. In 2017 and 2018 we've seen clashes, crashes and teammate battles throughout the pack, setting this weekend's Grand Prix up to be a potential classic.
The Baku City Circuit has a habit of throwing up unlikely drivers onto the podium as Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez have both demonstrated in the past few years and with the midfield being as as highly competitive and tight as ever, there's no reason we couldn't be seeing a Renault, Mclaren (providing neither teams Renault power units fail as we've seen three times thus far this season) or even a Racing Point on the podium this weekend. Haas may well be in the mix for this too as the American owned outfit will look towards bettering their results following a tough start to the season.
These unlikely podiums have however often been helped by the plenty of incident we have seen around the tight street circuit. In the 3 Grand Prix which have been held at the track we have had 3 safety cars meaning the likelihood of another this weekend is relatively high , especially if we have another teammate on teammate crash like the relationship souring Red Bull crash or the Force India collison in 2017.
Normally it is pretty unlikely to have these type of intra team battles due to the strong team orders many teams enforce upon their drivers, however this season we have already seen the defiance of said team orders in the Ferrari team as Charles Leclerc has tried to prove himself against 4 time world champion Sebastian Vettel. If the two are as close on pace as they have been in the past few races and team orders are once more ignored we could potentially see a Ferrari clash or at least some wheel to wheel action between the German and the Monegasque.
If the two Ferrari drivers don't collide with each other out they could be closely contesting the lead of the Grand Prix with Mercedes, who have shown dominance in both the early stages of this season and at the Baku City Circuit in the past and may have a car very suited to this track. That being said however, Ferrari had strong straight line speed in China last time out and failed to make full use of it, finishing the 1000th Grand Prix in 3rd and 5th. This alleged Ferrari straight line speed could help them rival Mercedes at the front of the pack this weekend if they have a strong set up which will optimise the long straights and 90 degree corners at the circuit.
All the elements to make an interesting Grand Prix are here and waiting to unravel themselves this weekend. Let's hope for another Azerbaijan classic this weekend to follow a somewhat uneventful Chinese Grand Prix last time out.