Azerbaijan Grand Prix: Baku F1 circuit guide

The crucial sections of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix's Baku Formula 1 circuit are examined by Peter Windsor in this week's episode of The Motorsport Show.

 

Baku's odd juxtaposition of an extremely long start-finish straight and a more traditional street circuit layout make it a unique addition to the F1 calendar.

Windsor highlights Turn 1, where drivers brake from speeds of more than 230mph, as "by far the most interesting part of the lap".

"It's approached at such high speed and it narrows on exit, it's very deceiving for drivers," says Windsor. "The tyres and brakes may be a little cooler than they should be because of that long straight.

"If it's a restart, you're really in trouble there. That's what made Daniel Ricciardo's pass on the two Williams at the second start last year so impressive.

"The other point to remember here is there will be a lot of lift and coast, it's pretty tough on fuel, so the drivers will be backing off to save fuel into the braking area.

"It will define the final third of the race."

Turn 1 and the other three 90-degree corners that make up the first sector are much more conventional of a street circuit.

Baku gets more original in the middle sector, with the tight, winding complex from Turns 8-12, which Windsor says requires "very precise judgement and very good kerb striking".

The end of the lap is "where it really becomes difficult as a race track", though, in particular the downhill Turn 15 right-hander and 90-degree Turn 16 left.

This was the scene of the infamous collision between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton under the safety car last year, which Windsor believes is a consequence of the circuit's long start-finish straight.

"It's very, very difficult to get the timing right at a restart," he says. "This is probably the most crucial part of the circuit bearing in mind we are almost certainly going to have a safety car".

Windsor also believes this part of the lap will be susceptible to both crosswinds and tailwinds coming onto the straight because it borders the Caspian Sea.

According to Windsor, "that means we're in Daniel Ricciardo, Lewis Hamilton sort of territory".

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Event Azerbaijan GP
Track Baku City Circuit
Article type Special feature