• IN WORDS: Lewis and Valtteri Talk Azerbaijan

Lewis and Valtteri look ahead to this weekend's Azerbaijan Grand Prix, as F1 returns to the streets of Baku

'We're hyped up by it'

This year's fight at the front is shaping up to be one of the most intense in years and, as Lewis explains, the team is fired up for the challenge. 

"We know it's a three-way-battle and it's definitely not going to be easy," the Brit said during his Thursday press conference. "But, it's a challenge that we all relish.

"Every single person in the team is hyped up by it all. For sure we have finished weekends and not delivered the way we felt we should have delivered.

"That's obviously not a great feeling but that's common within Formula One. The team doesn't take it as a negative, but more as an opportunity to grow, get closer and extract more from ourselves.

"It has been really interesting having the meetings that we have had. A lot of work is going on. I'm hoping that we can implement the things that we have learned this weekend.

"But we know it's going to be close. Ferrari and Red Bull were very quick last year. So, I anticipate it will be the same. We have no idea what's going to happen this weekend."

'It motivates us'

Valtteri put in strong performances at the last two races in Bahrain and China, narrowly missing out on race victories but fighting hard to the flag.

While the Finn admits the margins are close between the leading teams, he's certain the W09 has the speed to win races.

"The competition is really tough," he said to the assembled media in Baku. "It's three teams battling for wins, just as we were expecting after winter testing. That's the situation.

"It's all about getting everything right in the races. I think we have had a car in the first three races that could have won, performance-wise, but there has always been something happening.

 "In Bahrain we got very close to the win and also in China. The speed is extremely close to Ferrari and Red Bull.

"Yes, we are disappointed not to have won a race so far. This is the game this year. There are going to be six cars fighting for the win.

"We really need to get everything perfect and we haven't done that yet. It doesn't panic us, it motivates us.

"We just need to keep it together, try to find any small performance gains and I'm sure it will come."

'The track's a real challenge'

The Baku City Circuit is one of the trickiest layouts on the calendar, with tight corners, a twisty middle sector and unforgiving barriers ready to punish even the slightest errors.

Valtteri was tasked with summing the track up in three words. Which ones did he go for? "Exciting, challenging, brutal," he said, before elaborating on his choices.

"Keeping out of trouble here is really important. For sure you always learn more every year about the circuit.

"You know which places to avoid being absolutely on the limit from the first lap of the weekend. It's a good circuit and a nice challenge."

Lewis' own description followed similar lines: "The track is a real challenge. Being a street circuit, it's always going to be difficult.

"It's a long track, it's bumpy and a very, very challenging circuit in terms of being on the track at the right time and extracting the lap when you need to.

"The long straight is a probably the biggest challenge of the season for Safety Cars or VSCs. It created great overtaking. The middle section is the trickiest and the tightest."