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Azerbaijan GP: Preview - Pirelli

NEWS STORY
23/04/2019

Baku is the longest and also the fastest street circuit on the Formula 1 calendar, thanks to some lengthy straights that form the majority of the 6.003-kilometre track: the second longest of the year after Spa.

However, while the speeds are high, the track is narrow - and that combination has caused a few incidents in the past. As was the case at the last round in China, Pirelli brings the C2 as the hard tyre, C3 as the medium tyre, and C4 as the soft tyre: right in the middle of the range.

Baku is known as the 'city of winds' - which have an effect on the aerodynamics. In the past there have been very high track temperatures, but cool weather as well. It's a tough race to predict.

The long straights have the effect of cooling down the front tyres in particular - a bit like China - which can cause a risk of front locking.

Last year the race was won with a two-stop strategy, but this was influenced by two safety cars. In fact, the safety car has been out in the last two of the three Azerbaijan races held to date, so all strategies have to be flexible.

As is always the case on a street circuit, the surface tends to be 'green' and slippery at the start of the weekend especially, and grip is affected by features such as white lines and surface changes, Degradation is generally low on the smooth surface.

Another factor affecting grip levels is the fact that there are patches of light and shades along the circuit, which is downtown and surrounded by high buildings. This means that the track temperature can vary of different parts of the circuit. The race starts at 4.10 pm, so temperatures can fall quite quickly.

The three top teams have all made different tyre nominations. Red Bull has the most sets of soft tyres of the leading trio, followed by Mercedes, while Ferrari has selected the least soft tyres of any team.

Mario Isola: "The main challenge in Baku lies in balancing the front and rear axles, keeping both the front and rear tyres in the right operating window. It is quite a varied track, with a very long two-kilometre straight and also some more technical corners. The frequency of the safety car also often causes a headache - or maybe an opportunity - for the strategists.

"The tyres that we have nominated from the middle of our range should be well-suited to the mixed demands of Baku, but it's always one of the most difficult races of the year to predict. This is often the case for a street circuit, but Baku is the most unconventional street circuit on the calendar, with the high speeds of a conventional track as well as a very long lap."

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