F1 drivers expect crazier race in Baku

Formula 1 drivers are convinced that the Azerbaijan Grand Prix will be much more chaotic than the race was 12 months ago when there were hardly any incidents.

F1 drivers expect crazier race in Baku
Lance Stroll, Williams FW40
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF70H
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB13
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB13
 Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1 W08
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL32
Carlos Sainz Jr., Scuderia Toro Rosso STR12
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB13
 Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team VF-17

The inaugural race around the streets of Baku in 2016 passed without any safety cars and had hardly any retirements, as F1 drivers took it easy because they were convinced that just getting to the finish would guarantee points.

But on a weekend that has been blighted with more crashes and moments than 12 months ago, thanks to the wider, faster cars and harder tyres, there is a great expectation of more drama in this year's race.

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, whose crash in qualifying brought out the red flag, said: "I find it hard to believe that there'll be no incidents. A race is a race: you've got pressure, and you're putting pressure on people.

"After everything that's happened in practice and qualifying, there has to be something. But we thought that last year and it didn't happen.

"I think the fact that the grip's higher this year as well, you can push harder, and pushing harder doesn't mean it's easier.

"I think naturally when you're on the edge of the grip and the track, it is easier to make mistakes. As long as it's not me, I'm all good."

Renault's Jolyon Palmer, who starts from the back of the grid because an engine fire in practice meant he could not qualifying, is actually hoping there is trouble because it could help him move up the order.

"Last year, the start was all a little bit tame, but if this year people get a bit ahead of themselves it could be different," he said.

"Also this year with the way the cars are, it's more important to make places on the first lap. So hopefully there's people making more ambitious moves.

"What I need is some incidents, safety car and a mixed up race because I think on pace we're not competitive enough to be in the top 10. I'm starting from the back anyway, and in a normal race I won't be in the points."

Max Verstappen reckoned that there was an increased chance of drivers making mistakes this year because of the higher speeds and wider cars.

"I think with the wider cars, if you have a little moment, especially in the tight bit in sector two, then it easy to hit the wall," said the Dutchman. "It is all a bit more tricky this year.

"I think the cornering speeds you have now, they are quite a bit higher. So as soon as you lose it with the wider cars you have less space, so then it easier to hit something."

But not all drivers were convinced that there would be a dramatic change compared to 12 months ago.

Kevin Magnussen said: "[Last year] here was some kind of reaction to the GP2 race, everyone calmed down a lot and it seemed like, because we'd seen that race, we said 'okay, we really need to be careful'.

"But we'll see. It's always a little bit less stuff happening in the race, because people know that it's important. You don't find your limits in the race, you just kind of do what you know, so I expect less problems in the race. But there's still a higher chance than, I would say, other tracks."

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