Formula 1 returns this weekend, two weeks after a crazy Monaco Grand Prix that saw Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez beating Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari and putting up what seemed like an upset against Charles Leclerc at his home GP.

2022 F1 season recap after 7 rounds

The 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix is the upcoming round of the 2022 Formula 1 championship, which has now become a three-way fight between World Drivers’ Championship leader Max Verstappen (125 points), Ferrari’s Leclerc (116), and the most recent race-winner, Pérez (109).

Verstappen will enter the weekend as the favorite to the oddsmakers, but it was Pérez who won the most recent race at Azerbaijan. Of course, Verstappen was leading in 2021 before a tyre blowout ended his race in the late stages of the event.

Still, Pérez had done a great job to reach second place and was certainly in contention for the race win before a slow pitstop put him behind Verstappen, damaging his attempt of over-cutting his teammate.

Pérez has done well at Azerbaijan before, finishing on the podium twice with Force India (2016 and 2018) and winning in his first try around the track with a Red Bull.

2022 F1 season recap after 7 rounds

Carlos Sainz leading the Ferrari F1-75 in front of Max Verstappen in the Red Bull Racing RB18 during the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 29, 2022 (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images)

On his side, Charles Leclerc grabbed Pole Position at Baku in 2021 and finished fourth in the GP. Ferrari hasn’t taken a Grand Prix win in 2022 since the Australian Grand Prix, which took place on 10 April and was just the third race of the year. Now, after seven races have taken place in the year, Red Bull has five wins overall, including the last four in a row.

Ferrari should be desperate to stop the Bulls’ march and return to the top step of the podium at Baku, especially considering that the Scuderia had the pace to win the last two races, but mechanical issues and strategic mistakes cost Leclerc the chance to take the full points on two consecutive Sundays.

Mercedes (George Russell and Sir Lewis Hamilton), on its side, will enter the weekend being heavily doubted by many, as the team seemed to erase a little bit of the disadvantage to Red Bull and Ferrari in Barcelona, but looked a bit dismal at the Monaco event, both on pace and with the strategy on Hamilton’s side.

At Baku, it will be interesting to see the W13 and maybe realize that Mercedes has completely solved its bouncing issue. If the bouncing is still there, it could be a bit devastating for the drivers in the long acceleration zone of the main straight.

The 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix could be one to really expose the new aerodynamic regulations and show that it is a lot easier to follow another car around twisty, slow corners. If cars can really stay close while navigating the corner-laden second sector of the Baku City Circuit, we could certainly see great racing on the big acceleration zone connecting Turn 16 with Turn 1 (which includes four flat-out corners before the DRS zone).

Which F1 team is best of the rest now?

McLaren (Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo) sits fourth in the WCC with 59 points, 75 behind third-placed Mercedes. The team has done well to stay in P4 in the WCC, despite Ricciardo scoring just once during the year so far (he also scored at Imola’s Sprint event). Norris, on his side, has finished five of the seven races in the points.

Which F1 team is best of the rest now?

Valtteri Bottas racing the Alfa Romeo C42  during the 2022 Monaco GP on the Circuit de Monaco (Photo Xavi Bonilla / DPPI)

Valtteri Bottas’ tremendous level, which isn’t a surprise, has Alfa Romeo in fifth place in the WCC with 41 points, only one ahead of Alpine. Both teams have had similar situations in 2022, with Bottas commanding Alfa Romeo while his rookie teammate, Guanyu Zhou, struggles. Alpine, on its side, has Esteban Ocon with 30 points, while Fernando Alonso has only managed 10.

AlphaTauri (17 points with Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda), Haas (15 – Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher), Aston Martin (7 – Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel), and Williams (3 – Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi) round out the positions of the World Constructors’ Championship.

2022 Azerbaijan GP Facts & Figures

This will be the fifth so called Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Formula 1 history, as the race entered the World Championship in 2017. The first two Azerbaijan GPs were packed with emotions and several crashes, while the 2019 race was a little more normal, though the weekend had some drama with Charles Leclerc crashing his Ferrari in Q2 while looking as the favorite for Pole and win.

2022 Azerbaijan GP Facts & Figures

The 2021 event saw the two title contenders, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, ending the weekend without points, as a tyre failure took a win from Verstappen and a mistake after a red-flag restart saw the seven-time champion go off the track and finish the race in 15th place.

Along with the 2016 European Grand Prix, the first race celebrated at Baku, there have been five different winners at the world’s fastest street circuit. Nico Rosberg won in 2016 for Mercedes, while Daniel Ricciardo gave Red Bull its first success at Baku the following year. Lewis Hamilton grabbed a lucky win for Mercedes in 2018, before Valtteri Bottas won from Pole Position in 2019. Sergio Pérez took the first win of his Red Bull career at Baku in 2021.
Mercedes has taken two wins at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix with two in a row between 2018 and 2019 with Hamilton and Bottas. Red Bull also has two victories at the track, but Mercedes has three wins overall at Baku, including Rosberg’s win at the 2016 European Grand Prix.

Baku City Street Track info

The Baku City Circuit is the third-longest track in the calendar, after Spa-Francorchamps and the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, with 6.003 kilometres.

Everything you need to know about the coming 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

The layout definitely provides a big challenge for teams and drivers in terms of setup, as it has 20 corners that include low turns, but also has the longest acceleration zone of the entire calendar, with the final sector and the start of the first generating a 2.2 km ‘straight’.

The start-finish straight provides a huge overtaking opportunity, and it should be fun in 2022, with the new regulations allowing cars to stay a little closer to the car in front in the last few corners before the acceleration zone.

In 2017, we saw a stunning fight to the line between Bottas’ Mercedes and Lance Stroll’s Williams. The Finn driver finally overtook the Canadian right at the line to take P2 in the race. We could see some situations like that if we have a close race in the final stages.

There have been five different winners at Baku (Rosberg, Ricciardo, Hamilton, Bottas, and Pérez), and five different pole sitters: Rosberg, Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Bottas, and Leclerc.

The track will host its sixth Formula 1 race, and the fifth Azerbaijan Grand Prix (the 2016 race was the European GP).

The lap record at Baku is held by Charles Leclerc, with a 1:43.009 min in the 2019 race. The outright Fastest Lap was Bottas’ pole lap from 2019, a 1:40.495 min effort on the Mercedes W10.

Baku Street Track Characteristics
Because the Baku track is again a street circuit, the tarmac isn’t very abrasive like closed circuits have. Therefore the track is very green at first and has very low grip. Because of that low grip the tyres can last a long time around Baku. The low grip but long straights with big braking zones ask a lot of the tyres. The long straight will cool down the tyres a lot, so the drivers have to be extra careful diving in the twisted part and not lockup their front tyre to much.

Everything you need to know about the coming 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix – Tyre Compounds

The dry tyres for the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix will be the C3 as P Zero White hard, C4 as P Zero Yellow Medium, and C5 as P Zero Red soft, which is Pirelli’s softest choice for 2022.

2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix - Tyre Compounds

Pirelli explained its choice with a press release: “Baku is a street circuit with a personality all of its own, combining rapid straights with some extremely narrow and technical sections, especially around the famous Turn 9 in the old city centre.

As a result, unlike the high downforce setup for Monaco, the teams tend to go for a low to medium downforce setup in Baku: balancing the requirement for grip through the tight corners with the need for high top speeds on the fast straights to facilitate overtaking. Back in 2016, Valtteri Bottas – driving for Williams at the time – exceeded a reported 378kph in Baku (naturally on Pirelli tyres): an unofficial F1 record that still stands today.

The weather can be warm, with track temperatures in excess of 50 degrees, but the tight confines of the buildings around the circuit mean that there are alternate areas of light and shade, varying the track temperature quite a bit around the lap. ”

Mario Isola, Pirelli’s head of motorsport, further explained Pirelli’s tyre choice for the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix:

“Until Jeddah came along, Baku was the fastest street circuit of the year. But the demands of this city track are still relatively low, as none of the corners take a huge amount of energy out of the tyres due to the low levels of abrasion and contained lateral loads – which means that we can have the same nomination as Monaco.

Having said that, the high speeds in Azerbaijan still place a certain demand on the tyres. The main point is all about traction, with finding the right balance between front and rear axles being the key challenge for all the teams: you need to have enough heat in the front tyres to generate grip, despite the long straights that cool them down, but not too much heat at the rear, otherwise it’s easy to overheat them in the traction zones.

Track temperature is also inconsistent in Baku, so all in all it’s quite a specific track with a few different technical challenges, which are nonetheless the same for everyone.”

Everything you need to know about the coming 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

The minimum starting pressures for the tyres will be 24.5 PSI (front) and 21.5 PSI (rear).

2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix Weather Forecast

Friday, June 10th – FP1 & FP2
Conditions: Very windy, rather cloudy
Max. temperature: 26°C
Chance of rain: 6%

2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix Weather ForecastSaturday, June 11th – FP3 & Qualifying
Conditions: Mostly sunny and pleasant
Max. temperature: 28°C
Chance of rain: 1%

Sunday, June 12th  – Race
Conditions: Sunny and pleasant
Max. temperature: 29°C
Chance of rain: 0%

Who will be on the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix Podium?

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix is usually a race with lots of surprises and the fact that we’ve seen five different winners and five different pole-sitters really shows that previous form doesn’t always deliver results at Baku, as the walls are close and nothing can go wrong in order for a driver to finish and win the event.

Who will be on the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix Podium?

2021 Azerbaijan F1 GP podium: 1. Pérez, 2. Vettel & 3. Gasly (Photo by Maxim Shemetov – Pool/Getty Images)

Last year, Max Verstappen looked on course to winning the race convincingly, but he had started the event on P3 after a late red flag in Q3 left Charles Leclerc on Pole Position. Then, things went wrong for the Dutchman in the late stages of the race.

After Verstappen’s crash in the 2021 event, Pérez and Hamilton lined up first and second for the standing start with two laps left and Hamilton had a good chance to score lots of points with Verstappen out of the race. However, even the seven-time champion fell to the Baku craziness and committed a mistake that forced him to completely miss the first corner, falling to last place.

Pérez won the race in 2021 by having great pace in the event and also staying in contention, which often seems to be more important at Baku than in any other circuit. For 2022, Pérez will look to repeat that success in a track that has suited his style well in the past. However, nothing’s certain in Azerbaijan, and that definitely makes it a unique race in the calendar.

The top three prediction for the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix is 1. Charles Leclerc, 2. Sergio Pérez, 3. Max Verstappen.

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