Irrelevant celeb watch: Mariah Carey is trackside with her young son. “I love everybody, I’m here to support everyone,” she babbles to Lee McKenzie.
More relevantly, here’s a reminder of how they line up:
Some bite-sized pre-race thoughts from the contenders: Lewis Hamilton tells Lee McKenzie that he “feels great” and is buoyed by the news that his best friend’s had a baby – “It’s a fresh day, a new start,” he beams.
Sebastian Vettel is exuding calm too, despite having to make an engine change and asked whether that means he’ll be down on power? “Not really,” he replies, “it wasn’t what we wanted, the engine has served us well in the past but it’s just another one. Here you can pass, not like Monaco, and you’ve got a long straight, but you know it’s never easy.”
Valterri Bottas, Hamilton’s team-mate, is also upbeat about the circuit: “Here overtaking is possible, if you have the pace. We’re here to fight for the win, we’re allowed to race together.” Elsewhere, Daniel Ricciardo is looking “for a mistake-free race” after his woes in qualifying and is aiming to “crack into that top six early”, while Lance Stroll, who performed excellently to qualify in eight, chirps: “It all fell into place yesterday, I really enjoyed this track, and it felt good in the car.”
Some non-F1 related pre-race reading for you – here’s Richard Williams on the joys of the Le Mans 24 hours:
“Welcome to the oilfields, welcome to Azerbaijan,” roars Eddie Jordan in one of his now-traditional portentous voiceover intros to Channel 4’s coverage, glossing over some of the more problematic aspects of the country’s economics and politics.
Meanwhile, F1’s official Twitter feed brings the bantz:
It’s bright and sunny, of course.
Afternoon everyone. And welcome to our coverage of the eighth grand prix of the season, one that could well see things get that bit tighter at the top of the world championship standings, if Lewis Hamilton’s imperious last-lap drive for pole on Saturday is anything to go by. For all that Hamilton had bother trying to find the right grip on the hard rubber of Baku’s street circuit in practice on Friday, his performance in qualifying reminded us that while tyres may be temporary, class is permanent. “It was a perfect lap,” he chirped yesterday.
Right behind him on the grid though is Valtteri Bottas, who’s been a revitalising, youthful presence in F1 this year and who was second in Canada a fortnight ago and is seeking a second victory of the season after his superb maiden triumph in Russia in April.
This Mercedes showing makes today’s race a tough’un for Sebastian Vettel, whose 12-point lead could be seriously whittled away after he could only manage fourth in qualifying. With his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen a place ahead of him on the grid in third, another Ferrari-Mercedes ding-dong is in prospect on Baku’s streets today.
Meanwhile, the Azerbaijani capital’s street circuit is likely to prove demanding once again for the underpowered engines of poor old McLaren, who are beginning to acquire the permanent “fallen giant” status that football fans of a certain age talk about when they go misty-eyed over how mighty Wolves, Blackpool or Preston used to be. Will they get their first points of the year today? With Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne taking grid penalties, it’s a big ask.
Lights out: 2pm BST.