F1 DFS Picks and Preview:  Azerbaijan Grand Prix

F1 DFS Picks and Preview: Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Location: Baku, Azerbaijan
Course: Baku City Circuit 
Course Length: 6.00km
Laps: 51

Azerbaijan Grand Prix Race Preview

Max Verstappen extended his lead atop the championship standings with another victory last time out at Melbourne. The Red Bull Racing driver started from pole, but after a slow start he only led for the first time on lap 12. Once he was out front he never looked back, though. The race featured multiple stops, restarts, and an almost farcical finish when a red flag with one lap to go meant the final lap of the race was effectively a parade lap with drivers unable to advance their positions. To cap off the confusion, Carlos Sainz Jr. was assessed a five-second penalty under for causing a collision before that final stoppage. The resulting parade lap to finish the race meant he had no chance of covering that gap and fell from fourth to 12th. While Verstappen and Red Bull continued their dominance, Mercedes AMG Petronas seem to have gained some ground. Teammates George Russell and Lewis Hamilton were the only other drivers to lead that race, splitting the first 11 laps until Verstappen took the helm.

Ahead this week is another street circuit in the form of Azerbaijan's Baku City Circuit. This will be the seventh time the series has visited the track. Red Bull and Mercedes have each won three of those six races. With those two heavy-hitting teams at the front, Aston Martin continues to round out the podium spots with Ferrari seemingly behind for the time being. This will be the first of six sprint weekends for the teams with a one-off sprint race taking place Saturday before Sunday's main event. Unique for the 2023 season's sprint weekends, Friday qualifying will set the grid for Sunday's race. Saturday's event will truly be a stand-alone event with only penalties unable to be served during Saturday's event affecting the grid for Sunday.

Key Stats at the Baku City Circuit

  • Races: 6
  • Winners from pole: 2
  • Winners from top-5 starters: 4
  • Winners from top-10 starters: 6
  • Fastest Race: 199.921 kph

Previous Baku Winners

2022- Max Verstappen
2021 - Sergio Perez
2019 - Valtteri Bottas
2018 - Lewis Hamilton
2017 - Daniel Ricciardo
2016 - Nico Rosberg

Baku City Circuit is a unique temporary circuit comprising long wide straightaways with a narrow and twisty section winding around the city's historic castle. The long and wide front straight encourages passing through both DRS zones and out braking opponents into the tight turns. The most narrow and technical part of the track is the castle area where any mistake means contact and a potential red flag situation to clear the track. Teams will have to choose between setting their cars up for the tight sections with additional downforce or stripping that downforce off in an effort to maximize straight-line speed down the long front straight. Being a street circuit, the chances for safety cars is high. There is little runoff if drivers make mistakes, any of which could easily ruin their afternoon. Being the first sprint weekend of the season, and the sprint results not setting Sunday's grid, the Saturday event should be a good preview of what to expect in Sunday's longer contest. Teams and drivers will want to be a bit more conservative Saturday given the short turnaround for Sunday should anything break on Saturday.

DraftKings Value Picks

DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Max Verstappen - $14,400
Sergio Perez - $11,400
Fernando Alonso - $10,200

DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Lewis Hamilton - $9,600
Charles Leclerc - $8,800
George Russell - $8,000
Carlos Sainz Jr. - $7,400

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Lance Stroll - $6,600
Pierre Gasly - $6,200
Lando Norris - $5,800
Valtteri Bottas - $5,000

DraftKings Constructor Values

Red Bull Racing - $13,200
Mercedes AMG Petronas - $10,500
Aston Martin - $9,300
Ferrari - $8,500

Formula 1 DFS Picks for Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Captain - George Russell - $12,000
Max Verstappen - $14,400
Lando Norris - $5,800
Zhou Guanyu - $4,400
Nico Hulkenberg - $3,800
Constructor - Aston Martin - $9,300

Red Bull's dominance is a well-known quantity at this point, which means fantasy players will have to use most of their budget to include Max Verstappen or the team. That strategy coul pay off, but this lineup spreads the wealth a bit more amongst the top competitors. Without question we select Verstappen, but the Mercedes AMG Petronas team appeared to have grown in competitiveness at Melbourne. George Russell still appears to have a bit more comfort in the team's car than teammate Lewis Hamilton, which is why you see Russell as team captain.

The midfield battle is a bit more jumbled. McLaren, HAAS F1 Team, and Alfa Romeo F1 Team all landed in the top 10 at Melbourne. For his part, Lando Norris grabbed sixth, while Nico Hulkenberg finished seventh. Both appear to be relatively confident selections for Baku as well. Norris has finished in the top 10 every time he has raced at the track, and Hulkenberg's best finish was ninth in 2016. Zhou Guanyu is the Alfa Romeo representative given his ninth-place finish at Melbourne. 

With the top contenders represented through Verstappen and Russell, and the midfield choices above, this roster has to choose between Ferrari and Aston Martin. Given Fernando Alonso's consistent podium finishes, backed up by Lance Stroll's fourth-place result in Melbourne, the nod goes to Aston Martin. Ferrari could be in the fight for a podium finish this week, but they remain behind the Red Bull, Mercedes, and Aston Martin teams in terms of race pace and consistency. 

Formula 1 Betting Picks for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Race Winner – Sergio Perez (+380), Fernando Alonso (+1200), Lewis Hamilton (+1600)
Top-10 Finish – Zhou Guanyu (+475)
Winning Constructor – Mercedes (+900)
Safety Car – No (+400)

While Max Verstappen is the clear-cut favorite to win Sunday, the value options for an alternative are quite attractive. Sergio Perez, Fernando Alonso, and Lewis Hamilton all have a real chance of winning with Alonso and Hamilton looking especially profitable. Taking either of those two drivers for a podium finish could also be lucrative. Expect those odds to change following Saturday's sprint race, though. Similarly, Zhou Guanyu may be a good play to score a top-10 finish. Alfa Romeo has been relatively consistent so far, and Zhou appears to have gained some confidence and competitiveness.

The clear favorite constructor again is Red Bull Racing. However, Mercedes gave Red Bull a real challenge last time out. The team consistently has proven themselves capable of developing their car throughout a season, and Mercedes could be the better play this week with Red Bull priced as the clear favorites.

Finally, while Baku's tight city-based format begs for a safety car, both the 2022 and 2016 editions of the race went caution free. Safety cars have been the trend for 2023 thus far, but banking on a caution-free race is the more profitable way to go this and it isn't unprecedented.

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C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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