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Monday, 10 December, 2018

Daniel Ricciardo looks value to double up in Baku

Rookie Leclerc a big price to grab maiden points

Daniel Ricciardo in action during Baku qualifying
1 of 1

Azerbaijan Grand Prix
Channel 4 & Sky Sports F1, 1.10pm Sunday

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel stormed to his third pole position in a row and the Ferrari ace is favourite to extend his lead in the standings with victory in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

His closest challenger Lewis Hamilton starts alongside him on the front row, having looked in better form than of late.

Last year's race in Baku provided plenty of thrills and spills, and after some eventful preliminaries another action-packed afternoon could be in store.

Top tip
Daniel Ricciardo 7-1

Red Bull reckoned they needed to sneak a car onto the second row of the grid to stand a chance of following up Daniel Ricciardo's win in China last time.

And after Kimi Raikkonen blew a golden opportunity to grab pole position with a mistake late in his lap that left him sixth on the grid, last year's Baku winner Ricciardo seized the chance to take fourth place.

Raikkonen was already on the back foot. An error in Q2 saw him wreck his only set of supersoft tyres - the preferred compound to start the race. So the woe of the Ferrari driver's lowly grid position is deepened by him also being at a strategical disadvantage.

Red Bull were unable to match their Friday heroics on Saturday, when speed over a short distance is paramount.

That was fully expected, and Ricciardo should be much more competitive in the race.

The power deficit of their Renault engine hurt the Red Bulls in qualifying, but getting in the slipstream of the car in front on Baku's gargantuan main straight boosts speed by around 20kmh, which will go a long way towards compensating for that.

Ricciardo has looked much tidier than his teammate Max Verstappen this weekend - and indeed all season - and the affable Aussie looks a bit of value to win for the second race in a row.

There is no better overtaker in the field, and with a high possibility of at least one safety car period Ricciardo should get opportunities to make up places on restarts.

 

Other markets
C Leclerc points finish 7-1
E Ocon top-six finish 11-8

Sauber rookie Charles Leclerc was delighted to advance to Q2 for the first time in his fledgeling F1 career, and he is value to be celebrating his first points after the race.

The GP3 and Formula Two champion has faced a steep learning curve in much more complicated machinery but he is making good progress and the Ferrari engine in his Sauber will be a valuable asset at Baku.

Leclerc starts 13th, just ahead of the penalised Nico Hulkenberg, and if he keeps his nose clean in what could be a race of attrition there is every chance he can end up in the top ten.

It has been a difficult season for Force India, who have just one point to show from the first three races.

That is bitterly disappointing from the team who finished fourth in the constructors championship for the last two years, even though they were expecting to take a step backwards this year.

They look much more competitive this weekend, with Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez starting at the head of the midfield bunch in seventh and eighth.

And there is scope for them to improve. Starting immediately ahead of them on the third row are Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen.

Verstappen has been error-prone all season and this weekend has been no different, while Raikkonen may take chances as he bids to make up for his qualifying error and compromised race strategy.

Recommendations
D Ricciardo to win race
1pt each-way 7-1 Hills, Sky Bet
C Leclerc points finish
1pt 7-1 Sky Bet
E Ocon top-six finish
1pt 11-8 Hills, Sky Bet


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Ricciardo has looked much tidier than his teammate Max Verstappen this weekend - and indeed all season
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