PRIXVIEW – Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Features Prixview

Round four of the season sees the streets of the Azerbaijani capital Baku come alive for the first ‘European’ race of the season. The three and three quarter mile circuit runs it way around the coast and against the backdrop of both the modern and old city.

The circuit takes in Government house, Azadliq Square and the eye conic Maiden Tower. The circuit calls itself the fastest street circuit in the world, because of the long straights and fast corners. Baku joined the calendar in 2016 as the Grand Prix of Europe,

Despite being a street circuit, there is a mixture of corners both long fast flowing corners, but as the circuit enters the old city the circuit narrows. One of the narrowest sections of the track is in the old city against the old city walls, drivers need to navigate 7.6-metre uphill section through the streets. Get it wrong there, and you’re in the wall.

Having good speed is key, as the new parts of the city feature long straights and corners which can prove drama. Last season, was a race where everything over boiled with Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, as well as the two Force India’s. The year before,  Nico Rosberg showed his skill to beat Hamilton to victory.

The 2016 GP2 race, proved that Baku can be unforgiving as many cars crashed out or were forced to retire because of accident damage. But last year it was F1 making the headlines, as both the two title contenders Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel collided.

But that wasn’t the only on track drama, as civil war broke out at Force India after 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.”

Facts and figures

Race 2018 Formula 1  Azerbaijan Grand Prix
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 (Germany Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 2017, Formula One)
Most wins drivers Daniel Ricciardo (1)
Most wins manufacture Red Bull (1)

Fast facts

  • Baku is often likened to Dubai for its outlandish architecture and appetite for gold. Architectural highlights include the curvaceous Heydar Aliyev Centre designed by Zaha Hadid; the mirror-like SOCAR Tower; and the Flame Tower skyscrapers, which represent Azerbaijan’s oil and gas reserves.
  • Azerbaijan’s name is believed to have originated from the name of an ancient Turkish tribe, who lived in those territories.
  • While name Baku comes from the Persian word for “Wind-beaten city” and that factor can affect the cars on the track.
  • Valtteri Bottas recorded the fastest ever speed in a F1 Car of 378kph in qualifying in 2016.

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  17:00-18:00 14:00-15:00
Sunday
Race 16:10 13:10

What happened in 2017?

Daniel Ricciardo took advantage of the crash between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel to take victory, despite starting tenth following a crash in qualifying and making an extra pit stop. Vettel was deemed to have ran into the back of Hamilton, who he accused of “brake testing him”.

That was not the only on track drama, as both the Force India’s collided. Esteban Ocon was hit by Sergio Perez, which brought out the red flag because of debris. The Frenchman accused his teammate of “trying to kill him.” If that wasn’t enough Haas’s Romain Grosjean misjudged turn seven hitting the wall breaking his front suspension.

One of the major benefactors was Williams’s Lance Stroll, the Canadian made his way from eightieth to second place. However, he came under pressure in the closing laps From Bottas, with the Mercedes getting passed on the final lap.

What to watch for?

Baku is a race which Mercedes need to ideally win, but we still have these remaining questions about the teams overall on-track performance. Baku isn’t a normal street circuit as it has long flat-out sections, where high top speed is very important.

Having said that accidents are common, as we know street circuits cause drama. Being on pole isn’t necessarily as beneficial, as Daniel Ricciardo won from tenth. Drivers and teams need to be warry in qualifying as accidents are not uncommon on street circuits. Both sessions have seen drivers at top teams make mistakes, causing red flags.

2016 vs 2017 Race Data

  P1 Fastest P2 Fastest P3 Fastest Q1 Fastest Q2 Fastest Q3 Fastest Race Time Fastest Lap
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
Diff -2.025 -0.861 -1.610 -1.482 -1.245 -2.165 +29:03.243  
2016 01:46.435 01:44.223 01:44.352 01:43.462 01:42.520 01:42.758 01:32:52.336 01:46.485

Data Profile

A lap of Baku City Circuit

Lewis Hamilton comes along the long straight, before breaking about 100m before Turn One. He crosses to the inside, hits the apex before running to the outside. Breaks into Turn Two runs close to the apex and again runs to the outside, before crossing to the centre of the track. Breaks 100m before Turn Three, and runs nicely through the corner. Crosses to the outside for four, takes it perfectly. Breaks 125m before five runs to the apex before dipping into six.

Breaks into seven hits the apex before running through to the outside. Turns into this tricky uphill section close to the wall, left right left exits at the top. Hits the corner of twelve sets him up nicely for thirteen, hitting the apex runs to the outside and flat through fourteen and fifteen.

Breaks and runs nicely through sixteen runs to the outside and breaks into seventeen. He runs to the outside along the kerb, good through eighteen and nineteen which he doesn’t back off for. Opening up the Mercedes, along the straight through twenty and across the line 01:40.593.

Tyres

Driver

Team Ultrasoft Supersoft Soft

L. Hamilton

Mercedes 9 2 2
V. Bottas            9 3

1

S. Vettel

Ferrari 10 2 1
K. Raikkonen 10 1

2

D. Ricciardo

Red Bull – Tag Heuer 8 3 2
M. Verstappen 8 3

2

S. Perez

Force India – Mercedes 9 2 2
E. Ocon 9 2

2

S. Sirotkin

Williams – Mercedes 8 4 1
L. Stroll 8 3

2

F. Alonso

McLaren – Renault 8 4 1
S. Vandoorne 8 3

2

P. Gasly

Toro Rosso –Honda 8 3 2
B. Hartley 8 3

2

R. Grosjean

Haas – Ferrari 9 3 1
K. Magnussen 9 3

1

N. Hulkenberg

Renault 7 4 2

C. Sainz

7 4

2

M. Ericsson Sauber – Alfa Romeo

10

1

2

C. Leclerc

10 2

1

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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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