The Baku Street Circuit – a track of two halves

The Baku Street Circuit – a track of two halves

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It’s the “youngest” circuit on the calendar and, at 6.003 kilometres, the second longest after Spa. It is undoubtedly one of the most unusual tracks on the Formula 1 calendar. It is a street circuit, running through the centre of the Azerbaijan capital Baku, but nevertheless, it boasts a straight of 2.1 kilometres, which is over a third of the total distance and is tackled flat out. Last year, the highest recorded speed was in excess of 378 km/h. This year, it is unlikely the F1 cars will hit those sort of numbers because of their increased downforce and wider wheels. However, finding the right set-up for the Baku Street Circuit will still be a difficult task for drivers and engineers, because when deciding on the optimal level of aerodynamic downforce, one has to weigh up the demands of the slowest section, with the need for speed down the straights.

This type of circuit also requires excellent traction in the twistier corner and it is also tough when it comes to energy recovery.

Finding the right set-up for the Baku Street Circuit will be a difficult task for drivers and engineers

Scuderia Ferrari’s advance party already arrived in the capital city on the banks of the Caspian Sea over the weekend. Indeed, just like the circuit, the city itself has two sides: one, dynamic and modern, the other more historic and friendly. The forecast is for sunny weather, but cooler than the heatwave conditions affecting parts of Europe at the moment. Pirelli is bringing its Medium, Soft and Supersoft compounds, as degradation here is higher than in Monaco and Montreal.

Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen have gone for the same tyre choices: one set with the white stripe, four of yellow and eight of the softest compound that bears the red band. Last year, Seb finished second, while Kimi lost out on a podium place because of a penalty. The 2016 pole was 1:42.758.

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