Formula 1, the unpredictable Baku: the circuit below sea level where no one does an encore

The unpredictable Baku. Out of 5 gp disputed in Azerbaijan, 5 different winners. On the city circuit of 6003 meters almost everything below sea level (Caspian), between medieval walls, strong gusts of wind, 90-degree curves and one of the longest straights on the calendar (2.2 km) where you give yourself down on the accelerator, uncertainty is the surest rule. Over the weekend, the 8th round of the World Championship looks like an open hunting camp.

An anomalous and complicated circuit to interpret: yes, you need an engine for the straight, but also good traction and just as much handling to insert the car, especially the huge and heavy ones of this new generation, in the many driven sections, especially in the 1st and 2nd. sector, and between the 19 curves (12 to the left and 8 to the right, it runs counterclockwise) of which only two (13 and 14) above sea level and with the infamous and very narrow 8 where many have kissed the wall of the castle, including Leclerc (qualifications 2019). Safety cars are practically a certainty. There are two areas in which to operate the mobile wing, between curves 2 and 3 and on the straight line of the finish line. For all these characteristics, aerodynamic efficiency is particularly important in Baku as well as the hybrid part of the engine.

In only two cases the poleman was also the first to see the checkered flag (Rosberg in 2016, Bottas in 2019), while Ricciardo in 2017 he finished 1st starting even 10th. In 2019 he celebrated Hamiltonin 2020 the gp was canceled due to a pandemic while the last to triumph, in 2021, was Sergio Perez. The Mexican of Red Bull, just renewed from the blue until 2024, is fresh from the success of two weeks ago in Monte Carlo in a race very conditioned by the environmental circumstances (rain before the start, electrical failures to the systems, restarts behind the safety car) and also from the strategy errors of Ferrari which compromised the position of Charles Leclerc, who slipped from pole to 4th place. And from a possible counter-overtake in the standings, the Monegasque has lost more ground to the leader, Max Verstappen, who after 4 victories in a row is now +9 on him and +15 on his teammate.

There Ferrari in Baku he never won. For Charles, however, it is a special place: he raced and triumphed in F2 in 2017 a few days after the death of his father Hervè. With Alfa Romeo he scored the points for the first time in F1 with a 6th place, his best result here is a 4th place (2019) while last year, after pole, he finished 5th. He has many revenge to take: for the knockout of the engine in Barcelona, ​​for the mess in the pits at his home where his teammate, Sainz, finished 2nd.

The reds have a chance to make up for lost ground. Nicola Bariselli, pu track operations manager, explains: “Baku is a demanding challenge for the drivers, Carlos and, above all, Charles likes to race here. Given the characteristics of the track, the power unit must be versatile: it must in fact put the drivers in a position to have good driveability in mixed and slow, without wasting energy, which is instead all necessary to tackle the long straights. Pure power is also certainly fundamental, especially for the acceleration qualities that are required at the exit of the many low-speed corners, both in the search for a single lap and in the race. We run below sea level: environmental conditions have a significant impact on the optimization of the car / power unit package. In particular, variations in wind intensity and direction can lead to different operating conditions both in terms of travel speed of the curves (and therefore also in relation to the torque regime and use of gears) and duration of the straight. You can easily imagine how much performance changes, for example on the final straight, whether the wind is tail or front. The difference can be measured in several tenths of a second “.

Program:
Friday 10th June

13.00 F1 Free Practice 1 (Sky Sport F1)
16.00 F1 Free Practice 2 (Sky Sport F1)
Saturday 11 June
13.00 F1 Free Practice 3 (Sky Sport F1)
16.00 F1 Qualifying (Sky Sport F1)
Sunday 12 June
13.00 F1 Race (Sky Sport F1)

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