Formula 1: Who’s hot and who’s not going into the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 25: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB13 TAG Heuer on track during the Azerbaijan Formula One Grand Prix at Baku City Circuit on June 25, 2017 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 25: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB13 TAG Heuer on track during the Azerbaijan Formula One Grand Prix at Baku City Circuit on June 25, 2017 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images) /

Formula 1 travels to Baku for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Daniel Ricciardo stunningly took the win in China. Who else is on pace for the next round of 2018?

Formula 1 travels to Baku for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix this weekend. Daniel Ricciardo put on a stunning display as he upset Ferrari’s chance at a third victory just two weeks ago in the Chinese Grand Prix. Who has some steam for the fourth round of the 2018 season in Baku?

Who’s Hot

Daniel Ricciardo: The Aussie made some awesome moves in China to clinch his first victory in 15 races. Ricciardo and Red Bull Racing played the strategy game perfectly to set him up for the win. With a chassis that is always quick in the corners and the swirling rumors of him in exclusive talks with Ferrari, Ricciardo definitely has some momentum going into Azerbaijan. Not to mention, the Baku circuit was the only track at which he won in the 2017 season.

Sebastian Vettel: With two wins already to his name this year, Vettel will be looking to increase the distance between himself and Lewis Hamilton in the driver standings. Hamilton caught up to the Ferrari of Vettel in the standings with a better finish in China. After multiple winless seasons for the four-time champion, Vettel and Ferrari are both in contention for the title this year, and the race on the eastern European circuit may grow his lead and put Ferrari back in first in the constructor standings.

Kimi Raikkonen: In what may be one of his last, if not the last season for him to compete in Formula 1, the 38-year-old Raikkonen has proven that he still belongs in the cockpit. His incredibly consistent finishes and belief that he has an equal footing to Vettel are part of the Finn’s strengths. He also arguably has the best outright packages in the SF71H and will be another strong contender in Azerbaijan.

Max Verstappen: Verstappen has had a few incidences this season, and he has not finished where he should have in the opening races because of his tenacity. But the young driver may have just learned his lesson and this next race will be a test to see if he has. As we all know, Verstappen is a rising talent in Formula 1, and he has the backing of one of the best cornering cars in the field. The winding layout of the Baku street circuit will play into the strengths of the Red Bull chassis and Verstappen’s (hopefully) more refined overtaking abilities.

Who’s Not

Lewis Hamilton: The dominant force in Formula 1 in recent memory and the reigning world champion hasn’t been able to come to grips with his car on the track. Tire temperature problems and strategy have affected the Mercedes, and Hamilton has struggled not only to take a win this year, but he has even struggled to match his teammate, Valtteri Bottas. What was supposed to be another winning year for Hamilton may not even result in a podium for the Brit in Azerbaijan, as he only finished fifth in last year’s race.

Romain Grosjean: Three races have yet to produce Romain Grosjean bring home any points to the American Haas team. With a chassis that was eerily similar to that of Ferrari, one would expect more from the team and its lead driver. Grosjean has always been very sensitive to the brake setup, but this year, the balance of the car may be hampering his drives more. Whatever the case may be, the Frenchman hasn’t performed particularly well, and he is five places behind teammate Kevin Magnussen in the overall drivers standings.

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Sergio Perez: Sergio Perez and the Force India team have had their fair share of trouble this season, too. The Mexican normally drives above the car’s potential and is magical when it comes to saving fuel and tires. This season has been different after it was discovered that the VJM11 had some fundamental design issues that have dropped the team to the back of the midfield. After holding fourth place in the constructors series in each of the last two seasons, it has been tough for the team and Perez to recover. The Azerbaijan Grand Prix has historically been generous to the Force India team, but only time will tell if that will still ring true this year.

Carlos Sainz Jr.: After joining Renault on a sort of loan from Red Bull Racing last season, Sainz Jr, did well to match the pace of his colleague, Nico Hulkenberg. 2018 has not seen the Spaniard hold his weight up to this point. He has consistently finished below Hulkenberg, and “is one of only two drivers yet to outqualify his teammate” according to Sky Sports. He is another talented driver who hasn’t found his footing on the track this season, and he could use a good showing in Azerbaijan to get his season back on track.

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Originally named the “European Grand Prix” in its maiden year as a circuit in 2016, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix is held on a street circuit in the nation’s capital, Baku. With 51 laps winding around the historic and picturesque city center, it is a demanding circuit that will be another exciting round of the 2018 Formula 1 championship. Practice starts at 1:00 pm local time on Friday, April 27th, with the race happening on Sunday at 5:00 pm local time.