Formula One is back in Baku this weekend! Here are just a few of the reasons why we can't wait for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix...
1. Street Battles
F1's return to Azerbaijan marks the first proper street race on the calendar. Competing at city venues is always a unique and exciting challenge - but the Baku City Circuit isn't like most street tracks.
It contains the usual mix of slow and medium-speed corners, some of which are 90 degrees. But there are also some incredibly quick sections - especially towards the end of the lap, with one of the longest flat-out sections of track in F1.
So, it throws up an interesting variety of corner types and puts drivers at full throttle for just under 50% of the lap - which is unusual for city tracks. Because of the layout and the long main straight, overtaking is more than possible in Baku and the past two races there have proved this.
2. City Shake-Ups
Street circuits almost always create unpredictability (and often a touch chaos too!) thanks to the confined environment and unforgiving barriers. And they also throw up a raft of different driving and engineering challenges, which also help to shake up the racing.
One lapse in concentration can ruin a driver's weekend. In practice, it might rob them of time to get into that crucial 'rhythm' and find the set-up sweet spot. In qualifying, it might throw them right to the back of the pack. And in the race, it might mean an early bath - or even the deployment of the Safety Car, potentially mixing up the race for everyone.
Of the two F1 races in Baku, the Safety Car has been deployed in one of them (2017). But while on paper that's a 50% probability, the 2017 event included three different SC periods. This was a key factor in the race being one of the most exciting of the season. While you never want to see the SC emerging from the pit lane, you know it's going to mix things up...
3. Ready to Fight
This season's shaping up to be one of the most dramatic in years and we can't wait to see what the next chapter holds in Baku. A fast but twisty street track, three teams in the battle at the front and the world's best drivers fighting for victory... all the ingredients for another great race!
The opening three rounds of the 2018 F1 season have had us right on the edge of our seats, with some fantastic scraps for position, tense duels for the lead and fascinating strategy calls. It might not quite have gone our way so far but we're relishing the battle.
4. Beautiful Backdrop
Street circuits always produce spectacular scenery and Baku is no different, with the track winding its way past some of the city's most iconic landmarks and impressive buildings. The backdrop for the Azerbaijan GP is pretty impressive.
Perhaps the most memorable section of track is Turns 8-12, which runs around the old city and is incredibly narrow. Not only does it present a big challenge for drivers, it also produces some incredible photographs too.
5. No Margin for Error
An exciting element with all street tracks is the fact there's no margin for error. Get something wrong and there's no grass verge or tarmac run-off to save you. Making a mistake can have costly and time-consuming results.
While that makes it incredibly tough for drivers, it's all the more impressive for us watching. Drivers pushing to the absolute limit, millimetres away from the barriers, trying to get the maximum out of their cars.
It's quite a sight, especially at the Baku City Circuit, which is the quickest street track on the F1 calendar.