F1 Odds, Picks & Predictions: 3 Early Bets for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix (Sunday, April 30)

F1 Odds, Picks & Predictions: 3 Early Bets for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix (Sunday, April 30) article feature image

Dan Istitene – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images. Pictured: F1 driver Charles Leclerc of Monaco and Ferrari

Before we get into the F1 odds and picks for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday (7 a.m. ET, ESPN), let's discuss the biggest F-1 news this week: the change in the F1 race format.

After testing out sprint events over the last couple of years, Formula 1 officials have now decided to increase those events' presence in the race weekend.

Instead of having the sprints determine the starting grid for the grand prix, the sprints will be standalone events. This means that there will be a normal qualifying session on Friday, and it will set the grid for Sunday’s official F1 grand prix.

Then, there will be a separate, shorter qualifying session on Saturday that will set the grid for the sprint later that day.

I believe this will decrease some of the variance from the race that these sprint weekends had before. Instead of something potentially going wrong in a sprint race that could shake up the starting grid for the GP, teams will now have their typical qualifying session to set the grid and not have to worry about the close-quarters racing in a sprint that may lead to a potential accident.

There will be only one practice session for the weekend, however. This means that teams will really have to dial everything in during this session if they want to have a strong weekend.

All of my bets in this article will be for Sunday’s GP rather than the sprint race on Saturday.

F1 Picks for Azerbaijan Grand Prix

With this new format, we head to the capital of Baku for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. This is a street circuit that has many high-speed straightaways but also some slow sharp corners.

Baku is typically considered more of a power track. So this will likely play out most similarly to what we saw in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia rather than a track that requires more downforce, such as Australia.

Fast Ferraris

If you read my piece for Australia, you would remember that I was all over Mercedes and McLaren while fading Ferrari. That almost worked out perfectly if George Russell hadn’t suffered an engine failure and been the victim of poor pit strategy.

This week I’m looking to do the exact opposite. While Mercedes’ pace keeps improving, I like what the Ferrari drivers should be able to do on a track like this. They have one of the quicker cars on the grid and will likely have good pace at Baku.

After having bad luck all year long, I think that this is where Charles LeClerc can finally get things headed back in the right direction. As stated earlier, I think that Ferrari should be plenty quick at this track and may be able to set itself apart from the rest of the second-tier teams.

LeClerc currently has just the sixth-best odds to podium this weekend. I think that Ferrari will have a real chance to contend with Mercedes and Aston Martin for the last podium spot, just behind the two Red Bulls. LeClerc was headed toward a sure-fire podium at Bahrain before engine troubles ruined his day.

Carlos Sainz has also shown great pace this season. According to @F1DataAnalysis, Sainz had the fifth-best race pace at both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia among drivers who finished the races. While I could take him to podium at even longer odds, I feel more comfortable having LeClerc ahead of him. However, I do think Ferrari is set up well to see both drivers in the top six on Sunday.

The Picks: Leclerc To Podium (+300 DraftKings) | Ferrari Both Drivers Top 6 (+120 at DraftKings)

McLaren Matchups

Just as I backed McLaren at a high downforce track a week ago, I will be fading them here. The best way I have found to do is by taking the Haas of Kevin Magnussen over McLaren rookie Oscar Piastri.

McLaren ran well at Australia, where the track was suited better to them, but they struggled mightily in the first two races on the calendar. This version of the McLaren has been a high-drag brick so far, which is not built for Baku at all.

Both Haas vehicles showed better pace than both McLarens in Saudi Arabia. In Bahrain, Piastri was forced to retire early while Norris struggled as well. In that race, Norris ranks high in his overall race pace, but that was because he had to pit multiple times and ran most of the race with a clean track in front of him since no one was around.

Haas has shown to be quicker on this track type this year, and I think that over the course of this grand prix, there is a high likelihood that Magnussen will be able to outrun the McLaren rookie.

Pick: Kevin Magnussen over Oscar Piastri (-140 at BetMGM) | Bet to -150

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