The Azerbaijan Grand Prix: the race you only win once

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix joined Formula 1 back in 2017, but in 2016 the Baku Street Circuit was already on the calendar as the European Grand Prix. Six races have passed since then, but no one has been able to win more than once in the City of Winds.

Six races, six winners. That is the record that the Baku City Circuit has given us so far, home to the Azerbaijan Grand Prix since 2017 and the European Grand Prix in 2016. On a track where the races have been anything but boring, no one has been able to win more than once.

2016: Nico Rosberg won the first race in Azerbaijan

While it is true that there was no Azerbaijan Grand Prix in 2016, the Baku City Circuit did host a race: the European Grand Prix. The discussion about whether Azerbaijan is a European country is better left for another time, but there is no questioning the merit of Nico Rosberg’s victory. The German dominated the race with an iron fist despite some configuration issues with his Mercedes. A win that was vital in securing the World Championship that season.

2017: Daniel Ricciardo defeated chaos

In 2017, the Azerbaijani Grand Prix finally took place and delivered what the circuit promised: a chaotic race. Daniel Ricciardo was the winner of the event, despite having to stop in the pits due to brake problems on the sixth lap, which left him at the back of the field.

After a red flag halfway through the race, the Australian pulled off a triple overtaking maneuver in a corner and took advantage of the circumstances to win. These included Sebastian Vettel intentionally colliding with Lewis Hamilton during a Safety Car period and Hamilton’s own car suffering from issues with the headrest. Valtteri Bottas, who lost a lap early in the race due to damage, finished second after a photo finish with Lance Stroll.

2018: Hamilton wins due to his teammate’s bad luck

With the incidents from the previous year still fresh in mind, it seemed that Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel were going to have another showdown in Azerbaijan. However, everything changed on lap 40: Daniel Ricciardo, winner of the previous year’s race, collided with Max Verstappen, and both were out of the race. This forced a Safety Car, and everyone had to make a pit stop, but the biggest beneficiary was Bottas, Hamilton’s teammate, who was leading the race as he had not stopped yet.

On the restart, Vettel tried to pass the Finn, but he overshot and destroyed his tires in the process. Hamilton moved up to second place, but the race was going to have one final twist: just a few laps from the end, Bottas suffered a puncture that forced him to retire from the race. Hamilton inherited the win, with Kimi Räikkönen in second place and Sergio Pérez in third.

2019: Bottas’ redemption

After the painful end of 2018’s race, Valtteri Bottas achieved the coveted victory on the streets of Baku. Lewis Hamilton came close to being the first to repeat victory, but finished a second and a half behind his teammate in second position.

In one of the strangest images of the season, Daniel Ricciardo, winner of the race in 2017, ended up in an escape road alongside Daniil Kvyat. Trying to get back on track, the Australian reversed, colliding with the Russian driver.

2021: luck smiles at Sergio Pérez

In 2020, due to the pandemic situation, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix was not held. With its return to the calendar in 2021, chaos returned in a big way. With just a few laps remaining, at over 300 km/h, Max Verstappen suffered a puncture that forced the suspension of the race. Race Control decided to resume the race, with a standing start for the final two laps. Hamilton, in an uncharacteristic error, locked up his brakes in the first corner and handed victory to Sergio Pérez on a silver platter.

2022: Pirelli couldn’t stop ‘Mad Max’ this time

After the puncture that left him out of the race the previous year, Max Verstappen climbed to the top of the podium in a race he dominated with an iron fist. Sergio Pérez managed to finish second on this occasion, more than 20 seconds behind his teammate. Charles Leclerc, who secured pole position and was the main rival of the Dutchman for the title, retired from the race with mechanical problems.

What will happen in 2023?

La victoria número 33 de Fernando Alonso, si se diera en Azerbaiyán, seguiría con la ‘tradición’ del Gran Premio, y su cuota es la tercera más baja con £12. Para los otros posibles repetidores, la cuota ya es más alta: un triunfo de Lewis Hamilton se pagaría a £13, mientras que el de Valtteri Bottas es de £201.

Fernando Alonso’s 33rd victory, if it were to happen in Azerbaijan, would continue with the “tradition” of the Grand Prix, and his odds are the third lowest at £12. For the other possible repeat winners, the odds are higher: a win for Lewis Hamilton would be paid out at £13, while Valtteri Bottas’ odds are at £201.

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