The 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix gets underway this weekend, as the team heads to the streets of Baku for the eighth round of the FIA Formula One World Championship. The Baku City Circuit delivers one of the most challenging races of the season, as the drivers contend with the tight and twisting configuration of Icheri Sheher old town, with the narrowest point of the track measuring just 7.6 metres wide. Unusually for a street circuit, the track also offers a long, high-speed straight situated along the city’s shoreline, posing the additional challenge of balancing the car set-up to perform in both extremes.
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance: The streets of Baku are a quite different challenge to those in Monaco and although there are some very tight and slow corners here, there are also long straights and fast corners to contend with. There is a temptation to significantly lower the downforce and drag level for this circuit but how far it is correct to do so will depend on a range of risk-reward trades, which the drivers will have to consider during the practice sessions.
Like Monaco, Pirelli have provided the softest of their compound range, which should be suited to Baku providing that they don’t grain. The smooth track surface can make warm-up difficult, but this is compensated by the long lap.
The camber of the roads, large gradient changes, and the varying track width all add to the challenge at this circuit and ensure that setting the car up to be strong over the full 6km lap is very tricky. However, the same circuit characteristics that provide the setup challenge also lead to good racing and exciting on -track battles in Azerbaijan. Taming the streets of Baku is not easy, but it can be enjoyable and rewarding when done well.
Nicholas Latifi: Baku is always a very interesting and exciting race to go to. From a track perspective, it’s a high-speed street circuit in terms of the very long straights. There are repetitive cornering sequences with a lot of 90- degree corners which makes it important to dial the car set-up to suit those characteristics. It’s quite nice in a way that once you find a nice rhythm on the track it’s easy to find lap time in both qualifying and race trim. The one thing Baku never disappoints for is an exciting race as we’ve seen many over the past years. The long straight and DRS zones really aid that. Hopefully we can have a good weekend and capitalise on any opportunities that arise.
Alex Albon: I really like Baku as it tends to be a circuit with a lot of opportunities. It’s been a good track for me in previous years. Baku is a street circuit but presents a different challenge to what we faced in Monaco a couple of weeks ago. The races are quite unpredictable, which I think will work well for us and on paper it’s a circuit that should also suit us. We’ll be looking to hit the ground running from Friday onwards and come away with a good result for the team.