Prixview – Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Prixview Testing & Race Reports

Round four of the season heads to the Asian European border state of Azerbaijan and the capital of Baku. The streets of Baku joined the calendar in 2016 first held the Grand Prix of Europe and has become known as a dramatic and action-packed circuit as drivers fight the streets and each other for victory.

Baku has been called the fastest street circuit in the world and is the second longest circuit on the calendar. It has a mixture of corners, straights, narrow streets, wide overtaking opportunities as the circuit races from downtown modern Baku into the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the walled city.

The circuit takes in some of the cities best-known sites which creates amazing images as the drivers battle around the streets and along the longest straight on the calendar between Azadliq Square and government house. The circuit is wide enough for overtaking, and there is a great opportunity into Turn One.

Dominating the skyline is the Flame Towers, three striking towers symbolising the countries long history of fire worshippers that considered Azerbaijan as a birthplace for the prophet Zoroaster.

The first race in Baku was the 2016 Grand Prix of Europe, a race which has been labelled rather tame compared to the last two years, which have been two of the craziest races in the sports recent history. The 2017 race will be remembered for two clashes, on track.

Seven races of respectful racing between the two, a collision between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, handed the race win to Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo. Further chaos in sued at Force India (Racing Point) as Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez crashed into each other. The story would continue to dominate the headlines for weeks after the Frenchman accused Perez of “trying to kill him.”

The following year, Vettel looked on strong form but that all changed thanks to a mid-race safety car. As the two Red Bull’s battled for the lead following a double stop, Ricciardo ran into the back for Max Verstappen.

Another dramatic twist would follow, as Bottas led the race until a puncher leads to Bottas retiring from the lead and giving Hamilton the lead. Hamilton went on to take his first win of the season, but the story of the race while everyone watched the battle at the front was Charles Leclerc.

Baku while the newest race on the calendar, it has become one of the most exciting and action-packed races of the season. While Mercedes and Ferrari will resume the battle for the lead, the Scuderia have never won in Baku and as the pressure continues to build on Ferrari and Vettel, they are in need of a kick start to the season.

Charles Leclerc proved his abilities as a driver at last year as he scored his first points with Sauer (Alfa Romeo) driving from thirteenth to sixth, making him the first Monacan to score a point in F1. Sauber who also scored the team’s first points of the season with the best result the team since 2009.

Facts and figures

Round 04 of 21
Race 2019 Formula 1 Socar Azerbaijan Grand Prix
2019 Formula 1 Socar Azərbaycan Qran Prisi
Venue Baku City Circuit, Azadliq Square, Baku, Azerbaijan
Circuit Length 6.003 km (3.73 mi)
Laps 51
Race Distance 306.049 km (190.170 mi)
Lap Record 1:43.441 (Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 2017, Formula One)
Most wins drivers Daniel Ricciardo

Lewis Hamilton (1)

Most wins manufacture Red Bull

Mercedes (1)

Fast facts

  • Baku is the only race the calendar which races through a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In December 2000, the Old City of Baku with the Palace of the Shirvanshahs and Maiden Tower became the first location in Azerbaijan.
  • The city is the lowest lying capital city in the world located 28 metres (92 ft) below sea level and the most populated metropolitan area in the country home to a quarter of Azerbaijan’s population.
  • Sergio Perez is the driver with the most podium finishes at this track, and the only driver to have finished in the top three in Azerbaijan more than once, having done so in 2016 and 2018.
  • Eighth on the grid has supplied more podium finishes than any other grid slot in Baku. Both Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez took third place finishes after starting from eighth in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
  • Tea is the most popular drink in Azerbaijan. Traditionally served in a pear-shaped glass, the drink is often consumed through lumps of sugar or jam, held in the mouth.

Event timetable

Session

Local

BST

Friday

P1 13:00-14:30 10:00-11:30
P2 17:00-18:30­­ 14:00-15:30

Saturday

P3 14:00-15:00 11:00-12:00
Qualifying 17:00-18:30 14:00-15:00

Sunday

Race 16:10 13:10

What happened in 2018?

Ferrari looked as strong as ever in Baku as Vettel took pole after edging out Raikkonen on his first run in Q3. Vettel had been behind Hamilton after the first runs in the final part off the session being three tenths off. Hamilton the narrowed it to a tenth, while Raikkonen looked stronger a middle sector he made a mistake at turn fifteenth dropping him to sixth behind both Mercedes and Ferrari.

Vettel had led much of the race until lap thirty when he pitted giving Bottas the lead of the race. The timing of that stop was OK, but then the drama started following the pit stops for both Red Bulls five laps later. As they resumed the battle at the front they began fighting for the lead.

Verstappen had gained the over cut on Ricciardo when they double-stopped on lap forty. Resuming the battle for the lead of the race Ricciardo went for the attack into the first corner when Verstappen tried to fend off his teammate but ran into the back of him. Both Red Bull’s retired with Vettel back in lead.

When the race resumed following the safety car, Vettel ran wide, the first off many mistakes that would cost him the title, giving Bottas a bigger lead and dropped him back to fourth. Bottas looked very much in control with three laps to go he had a second plus lead over Hamilton, while Vettel had just been passed by Sergio Perez.

“BANG!” a puncher lead to Bottas retiring from the lead and giving Hamilton the lead. Hamilton went on to take his first win of the season, but the story of the race while everyone watched the battle at the front was Charles Leclerc.

The Monacan’s the first points of his Formula One career, in a stunning drive from thirteenth to sixth, making him the first Monacan to score a point in F1. Sauber who also scored the team’s first points of the season with the best result the team since 2009.

Hamilton’s consistency and victory in Baku saw him take a ten point lead going into the European season.

Race Result – 1) L. Hamilton 01:43:44.291, 2) K. Raikkonen +2.460, 3) S. Perez +4.024

What to watch for?

Baku is a crazy race where anything can happen, its more towards the Montreal style of the street circuit. Overtaking is possible as most of the circuit has wide streets, however, as they race into the old city it can prove difficult to overtake. This is a very fast street circuit, therefore I believe it should favour Mercedes and Ferrari.

This race can be an opportunity for the midfield teams, as a safety car has featured in two of the three races in Baku. Making any kind of mistake can be costly and this has helped some of the lower end teams score points. Drivers will be pushing to the absolute limit, millimetres away from the barriers, trying to get the maximum out of their cars.

The inter-team battle at Ferrari between Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc is one to watch, Leclerc has been the better performer in the last two races. But do Ferrari favour Vettel? They certainly need a good weekend and to get the season back on track so

2017 vs 2018 Race Data

P1 Fastest

P2 Fastest

P3 Fastest

Q1 Fastest

Q2 Fastest

Q3 Fastest

Race Time

Fastest Lap

2018

01:44.242 01:42.795 01:43.091 01:42.538 01:42.510 01:41.677 01:43:44.291 01:45.149

Diff

-0.032 -0.567 -0.651 -0.555 -1.325 -1.124 -20:10.322 +1.784

2017

01:44.410 01:43.362 01:42.742 01:41.983 01:41.275 01:40.593 02:03:55.573 01:43.441

A lap of Baku City Circuit

Along the long straight for Nico Rosberg starting with him crossing the pole position box on his way to turn one. Turns in beautifully to just tap the inside kerb and on exit before the short run to turn two which he takes the apex really well before running as close as he can to the wall.

Another long run to three again takes the apex before going to the wall on the exit and across the circuit before hitting the kerb on the exit of four. Through the kink into five, the first chicane which he takes well and on the exit of six goes to the inside lining up well for seven.

Short run between eight nine ten takes it perfectly unlike Hamilton. Good through thirteen and fourteen which he seems to be flat out. Kerb through the entry and on the exit of fifteen. Good through seventeen where he puts his foot down to be flat through nineteen and twenty to cross the line with a 01:42.520.

Tyres

Driver

Team

White Hard (C2)

Yellow Medium (C3)

Red Soft (C4)

L. Hamilton

Mercedes 1 4 8
V. Bottas 1 4

8

S. Vettel

Ferrari 1 5 7
C. Leclerc 1 5

7

M. Verstappen

Red Bull – Honda 1 3 9
P. Gasly 1 3

9

D. Riccardo

Renault 2 1 10

N. Hulkenberg

1 2 10

K. Magnussen

Haas – Ferrari 1 3 9
R. Grosjean 1 3

9

C. Sainz Jr

McLaren – Renault 1 2 10
L. Norris 1 2

10

S. Perez

Racing Point –Mercedes 1 2 10
L. Stroll 1 2

10

K. Raikkonen

Alfa Romeo – Ferrari 2 2 9
A. Giovinazzi 1 3

9

D. Kvyat

Toro Rosso –Honda 2 2 9
A. Albon 1 3

9

G. Russell

Williams –Mercedes 2 2 9
R. Kubica 1 3

9

Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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