Mercedes duo Hamilton and Rosberg to continue rivalry in new European GP venue
Lee Gormley | June 15, 2016
European Grand Prix
- Sunday, June 19th
- Race starts: 14:00 BST
- Baku City Circuit, Azerbaijan
- Live on Sky Sports F1 and Channel 4
F1 season reaches European GP circuit
The Formula 1 season takes to Azerbaijan this weekend for the European Grand Prix and it’s Mercedes that will look to maintain their dominance on proceedings, having incredibly won 38 of the last 45 races and six of this campaign’s seven outings.
Responsible for such success have been reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton and German teammate Nico Rosberg, with the latter having triumphed in the first four circuits of the season, seeing him more victories than any other non-champion in the history of the sport.
Britain’s triple world champion Hamilton closed the gap on current Championship leader Rosberg last time out with victory in Canada, but the Mercedes front-runner is 11/5 with Coral to extend his advantage at the summit with success in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Following his Canadian coup, Hamilton is now third on the all-time GP victories list on 45 wins, behind Alain Prost (51) and Michael Schumacher (91), and three ahead of current Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel, who is 5/1 to prevail this time around.
New Azerbaijan circuit set to test drivers
Mercedes’ defending world champion is the 11/10 favourite for another victory in the European GP, with the eighth race of the season set to be the first ever staged in Baku, Azerbaijan, at the testing Baku City Circuit.
The European GP was previously held at the Valencia Street Circuit in Spain, hosted there from 2008 to 2012 before being removed from the calendar in 2013, but it now returns this year at the new venue in Baku.
In earlier seasons, the European circuit was not held as a proper race in its own right but as an honorary title and was usually held in a country in Europe that also holds a national Grand Prix in that same year.
Now, in Azerbaijan, is the first anti-clockwise layout of the season and second longest after Spain, the world’s nest steerers will test themselves on new territory. The 2.1km straight down to turn one is the longest on the calendar and cars will reach up to 340km per hour, the fastest F1 has ever gone on a street circuit.
Turn eight also provides a potential stumbling block, which is the slowest corner and runs very close to the city’s famous medieval wall, with the track narrowing to the width of just two cars.
Alonso looks forward to exciting track
Former world champion Fernando Alonso stated he had gone through the new circuit on a simulator and believes it has all the makings of a thrilling meeting this Sunday, when he is 11/2 to rally to a top six finish.
“I’ve already driven the track on the simulator and there’s certainly a lot that makes it unique – medieval walls close to the edge of the newly-laid asphalt, anti-clockwise corners, minimal run-off,” outlined McLaren’s Spanish steerer.
“It seems to have all of the ingredients to give us a bit of drama and the prospect of exciting racing.”
The Spaniard’s McLaren teammate Jenson Button is 5/4 to earn a points finish this time out, while Renault’s Jolyon Palmer and Haas’s Esteban Gutierrez are 12/1 and 11/4 respectively to finally get off the mark this season.
Red Bull’s teenage history maker Max Verstappen enters at 6/4 to record a podium finish on this challenging circuit, with Australian Daniel Ricciardo and experienced steerer Kimi Raikkonen 5/4 an 4/1 to achieve that feat.