Williams Martini Racing: European Grand Prix Preview
The European Grand Prix returns to the calendar after a four year absence, moving from its previous home in Valencia, Spain to an all new street circuit in Azerbaijan’s capital city of Baku.
This 23rd European Grand Prix will be the first Formula One event to be held in Azerbaijan. Designed by Hermann Tilke, the six kilometer, anticlockwise track will feature 20 turns and is predicted to be the fastest street circuit in the world. This completely unique track will loop around the city’s historical centre and is anticipated to be a popular destination amongst drivers and fans watching both in the grandstands and at home.
For Baku, Pirelli have made available the supersoft, soft and medium tyres. The team has chosen to allocate each driver with different sets of tyres throughout the weekend. Valtteri will have seven sets of supersoft, four sets of soft, and two sets of medium tyres; whereas Felipe will have seven sets of supersoft, five sets of soft and one set of medium tyres available.
Baku City Circuit looks to be an unusual track and so far simulations have had to be done using surveyor’s maps rather than detailed track scans. Perhaps the most notable feature of the 6km anticlockwise street circuit is the flat out section from turn 16, through the start-finish line and up to turn one, where we expect cars to be reaching speeds in excess of 320kph. The first sector consists of a number of 90-degree turns before the start of the second sector with a series of relatively sharp corners in quick succession from turns seven to 12. The circuit then opens up to finish sector two before another 90-degree left-hander leading on to a long straight. It’s too far ahead for accurate weather forecasts, but normally in June maximum temperatures are in the mid-high 20s with the record highest average temperature for this month being 39°C. Statistically we expect dryer weather than we see in Bahrain in April, with a total of 8mm rain for the whole of the month of June and only two days of wet weather being the norm. In Formula One we always enjoy a challenge and even in these days of sophisticated simulations a new circuit such as Baku will always throw up some surprises. It’s our job to get on top of the unexpected and rapidly learn the nuances of this new track.
I’ve never been to Azerbaijan, so it should be interesting. In general, it’s a bit of an unknown for me. The track, from what we have seen, looks nice and very quick. I like going to new places, discovering new cultures and seeing new cities. I’m looking forward to learning more about the country, the city and especially the race track.
It will be my first time in Azerbaijan so I don’t know what to expect from the country. I’m really looking forward to discovering a nice country, good people, and also a race track which will be in the middle of the town. I don’t know yet if it will be more like Monaco, or maybe a mix between Monaco and Singapore. We will wait and see. I’ve heard the straights will be longer, so maybe there will be more overtaking on this track compared to the other street tracks that we race on. I hope we come away from Azerbaijan for the first time with a good result.