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Big two go conservative for Baku

NEWS STORY
16/04/2019

Next weekend's race on the streets of Baku, sees Pirelli take its C4, C3 and C2 tyres, the same compounds used in Australia and China.

While Ferrari takes just seven sets of the softest rubber available, Mercedes takes eight.

Red Bull, on the other hand, along with Haas, Alfa Romeo, Toro Rosso and Williams, takes nine sets, while the rest take ten.

Ferrari takes the most sets of medium tyres, the Maranello outfit opting for 5, while the Mercedes pair take four.

Red Bull, like Haas, Antonio Giovinazzi, Alexander Albon and Robert Kubica take three sets of the yellow-banded rubber.

Daniel Ricciardo, Kimi Raikkonen, Daniil Kvyat and George Russell each take two sets of the hardest tyre, while the rest take just one set.

With the race starting just after 16:00 (local time), track temperatures cool rapidly as the sun begins to go down, though none of the free practice sessions take place at exactly the same time as the race start.

Because Baku is a street circuit tightly enclosed by buildings, there are many areas of lights and shade, making track temperatures even harder to assess.

The main straight is two kilometres long, which means that the tyres can cool down before the braking area at the end of it.

Last year's race was won by Lewis Hamilton on a two-stop strategy, the Briton starting on supersofts before further stints on soft and ultrasofts. The remaining podium finishers, Raikkonen and Sergio Perez, both started on used ultrasofts, before further stints on softs and then ultrasofts (Raikkonen) and Supersofts (Perez).

As is almost always the case on this tight, city circuit, the safety car was to make an appearance, indeed it was deployed just half-a-dozen corners into the race following a clash involving Raikkonen and Esteban Ocon, which also saw Fernando Alonso and Sergey Sirotkin caught up in the aftermath.

The safety car was deployed yet again later in the race when the Red Bull pair collided, an incident which provided even more drama when Romain Grosjean inexplicably crashed behind the safety car and in the process deposited debris on the track that was to cause a puncture for race leader Valtteri Bottas.

One of the biggest challenges for drivers last year, as in 2017, was warming up the front and rear tyres at the same rate.

Following the damp squib that was Shanghai, fans can only hope that this year's Baku event is only half as entertaining as the 2018 race.

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