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Azerbaijan Grand Prix: Ricciardo to repeat China heroics in Baku

If Sunday's Azerbaijan Grand Prix is anything like last year's, Formula One fans are in for an absolute treat this weekend.

Daniel Ricciardo won a thrilling race for Red Bull from 10th on the grid but that was only half the story as Sebastian Vettel deliberately collided with Lewis Hamilton on lap 18 for which the Ferrari driver received a 10-second stop-and-go penalty.

That did not prevent Vettel from finishing fourth in Baku, one place ahead of Hamilton who started on pole but whose hopes of victory were derailed by a loose headrest.

The drama did not stop there as Lance Stroll secured an unlikely podium place for Williams to ensure three of the last six drivers have finished in the first three from outside the top six spots on the grid. Clearly, the unexpected should be expected this weekend.

Hamilton finds himself in a strange place of being without a victory in the first three races of the season which have seen Mercedes locked out of the grid by Ferrari in both Bahrain and China.

To add to his frustration the world champion was slower than both Red Bulls in the second practice session and with nothing else to go on before qualifying on Saturday we are kicking off our Azerbaijan Grand Prix betting preview by predicting Ricciardo to go back to back and repeat last year's victory at 5/1.

The Australian has taken centre stage at Baku amid speculation he is wanted by Ferrari, but he managed to put the rumours to one side by topping the timesheets on Friday.

Using Pirelli's ultra-soft tyres, Ricciardo was eight-tenths of a second quicker than Hamilton, who was fifth fastest during the second session and once again slower than team-mate Valtteri Botas.

With Mercedes' troublesome start to the season showing no signs of abating and Red Bull proving they have the pace to deliver in Baku, we expect Ricciardo to repeat his brilliant performance in China.

The last of our Azerbaijan Grand Prix predictions is for Raikkonen to start the race on pole at 13/2 and to bag another podium finish at 2/1.

Raikkonen obliged with a podium finish at 7/4 in our only tip for China two weeks ago and he has made an encouraging start in Baku as the second quickest in FP2, just one-tenth of a second behind Ricciardo.

The Ferrari driver is also confident he and team-mate Sebastian Vettel will be in the thick of the action this weekend.

He said: "Obviously it's a different layout, a kind of street circuit, but quite an open one, apart from the very tight area around turns 9 and 10. For a street circuit, it requires quite a low downforce level, probably the first one of this kind we run this season.

"We need to be stronger everywhere, but I think that our car has been good so far. Speed wise we have been pretty OK. It would be a surprise if we cannot fight at the front."

Raikkonen has started all three races second on the grid, but he could go one better by qualifying fastest on Saturday at a decent price.

The Finn also has two podium finishes to his name this season and was third in Baku last year, so another successful weekend beckons.

Azerbaijan Grand Prix betting tips

Daniel Ricciardo ew @ 5/1 1/3 top two

Kimi Raikkonen on pole @ 13/2 ew 1/3 top two

Raikkonen podium finish @ 2/1

Warren Barner
@warren_barner in F1