Formula 1 Azerbaijan betting preview: Is this Valtteri Bottas' week to win?

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Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Sunday, June 6, 7 a.m. ET (ESPN)

This could be the week for a driver not named Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen to visit Victory Lane.

Hamilton and Verstappen have won each of the first five races in 2021. Hamilton has three wins while Verstappen has two victories and the points lead after he won at Monaco two weeks ago and Hamilton finished seventh, thanks to some porous pit strategy and the impossibility of passing at the historic track.

Valtteri Bottas had enough pace to push Verstappen at Monaco but was forced to retire after his team couldn’t get the right front wheel off his car during a pit stop. Bottas started behind Verstappen and seemed destined for a second-place finish but the pit stop mishap continued Bottas’ blah start to the season.

That could change this weekend.

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 23: Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W12 on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 23, 2021 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Valtteri Bottas is the defending champion in Baku. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Bottas has shown a ton of speed over the last two Azerbaijan Grand Prix races and is the defending champion. He started third and led 18 laps in 2018 before a tire puncture derailed his chances of winning with less than three laps to go. Bottas was leading the race when he lost a tire and the problem handed the win to Hamilton.

Bottas got his redemption a year later. He started on the pole and led 31 laps on his way to a win.

Mercedes should be the team to beat over the weekend — it’s won three of the four races at the Baku City Circuit — and if you’re going to take a flier on Bottas at some point this season, there are far worse weekends to do it than this one.

Here’s our betting advice for the race. As always, odds are provided by BetMGM.

Valtteri Bottas to win (+800)

It’s too tantalizing not to go with Bottas at these odds. Hamilton and Verstappen are both at +125 to win and that feels right given how dominant they’ve been so far this season. Bottas is also +350 to post the fastest lap and +450 to win the pole. There’s value there too if you want to go all-in or take a flier somewhere else.

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen to not finish 1-2 (-110)

This one’s a logical bet to parlay if you’re counting on Bottas to win the race. A Bottas win obviously means it’s impossible for both Hamilton and Verstappen to finish in the top two so you might as well go for this one too. It can also serve as a standalone hedge if you have money on either or both of Verstappen and Hamilton to win.

Mick Schumacher to beat Nikita Mazepin (-400)

Mazepin scored his first head-to-head victory of the season over Schumacher at Monaco. That’s not something we expect to be a trend. The odds aren’t great, but Schumacher should beat his teammate once again.

Alpha Tauri to beat Aston Martin (-115)

This is a bet on Pierre Gasly. He was sixth at Monaco, though he finished a spot behind Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel. We think the Alpha Tauris should have more speed than the Aston Martins over the Baku City Circuit, and Vettel isn’t a master of Baku like he is at Monaco.

Both Alpine drivers to score points (+250)

The Baku races have typically featured a lot of chaos. Here’s to hoping that the Alpine cars aren’t involved in that chaos. Esteban Ocon has scored 12 points through five races and is the better bet to get points. But we’re going to take a flier on Fernando Alonso sneaking into the points behind his teammate this weekend.

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