A new circuit brings with it a unique set of challenges. There is a lot to be learned when the team arrives – but some key information is available in advance. The FIA provide a track layout, Pirelli provide an analysis of the tarmac and, of course, the team has simulation tools at the factory.
Baku appears to be a rather unusual circuit, which may throw up some unexpected issues as the weekend progresses. With mostly low-speed corners, it has a very similar downforce requirement to Monaco. However, these corners are combined with very long straights, making the layout a combination of Monza and Monaco – two opposing ends of the downforce scale.
It remains to be seen where the optimum balance between downforce and drag lies. There may be a relatively clear configuration for ultimate lap time but, to some extent, teams will have to track with their competition through the weekend in terms of overall downforce level. There’s no point in having the fastest lap time if the car is too slow down the straights and therefore prone to overtaking during the race. This effect will generally drive downforce levels down, so most cars will likely end up closer to the Monza end of the scale than the Monaco spec.
Braking will inevitably be a big topic with so many stops around the lap and, as in Montreal, tyre warm-up may also be an issue. Although the ambient and track temperatures will be high, the nature of the corners and the new tarmac is likely to make it difficult to generate heat in the tyres – which are also a step harder for this weekend: SuperSoft, Soft and Medium.
Finally, as with all new circuits, driver familiarisation may play a part in the result – especially in qualifying. Drivers of the standard seen in Formula One can learn a circuit very quickly indeed, both through their own practice and by studying the on-board videos and data overlays of others. However, there can often be tricky details to the optimum line – and drivers do not always give these away once discovered!
Points of Note
- Predicted lap time is less than 1 minute 50 seconds
- Top speeds are estimated at in excess of 330 km/h
- The T16 – T1 stretch is similar in duration to T1-T5 at Spa
- This means more than 20 seconds at full throttle if T18/19 are taken flat out
- Despite the long straight, the run to T1 is amongst the shortest of the year
|Circuit Length||6.001 km|
|Race Distance||306.051 km|
|Number of Corners||20 (12 L / 8 R)|
|Distance from Pole to T1 Apex||330 m|
|Pit Lane Length Under Speed Limit||390 m|
|Drive Through Time at 60km/h||23.4 s|
|Lap Distance at Full Throttle||49 %|
|Lap Time at Full Throttle||54 s|
|Gear Changes Per Lap||78|
|Braking Events (>2G)||9|
|Heavy Braking Events (>0.4s @ >4G)||1|
|Fuel Consumption (1 = Low, 3 = High)||3|
|Maximum Lateral G-Force||3.8 G @ T 19|
|Track Evolution (P1 – Qualifying)||High|
|Key Overtaking Opportunities||T1|