Renault duo look ahead to Azerbaijan


A second successive sixth place for Nico Hulkenberg leaves him well in the mix at the front end of the midfield fight.

Now Nico is ready to get his groove on in Azerbaijan, the Land of Fire, in the city famed for its strong winds.

What do you like about Baku?
Nico Hulkenberg: It's still a fairly new venue to Formula 1 and we are still getting used to it. It's an interesting place and certainly carries a different vibe to the usual Grand Prix with the old town buildings and cobbled streets. There are some cool looking, vintage houses around with an old castle situated at the heart of the circuit. Last year's race is memorable for the fans, not so much for me unfortunately, but if it's similar to last year we have to make sure we can seize on every opportunity.

How difficult is a lap of the circuit?
NH: There are some walls waiting for you so it's important to be quite brave, but not go over the limit. The viewing is good for fans and the speed is cool to watch. It's the fastest street circuit on the calendar with overtaking possible with the long, DRS straight. There are a lot of tight, 90-degree turns matched with flat-out kinks, which give you a buzz when you fly through. The castle complex of turns 8 to 10 is especially close with the wide cars. Monaco is spacious in comparison!

Are you pleased with your opening to the 2018 season?
NH: It's a positive start to the season, and it's good to be at the front end of the midfield. It's important to keep picking up a good number of points to make sure we are in the hunt. It's about continuing on this upward trajectory and putting the work in to make sure we are ahead of our rivals.

Carlos Sainz added to his points tally for 2018 last time out, but the Spaniard wants to build on that on the cobbled streets of Baku.

How does Baku compare to other street circuits on the calendar?
Carlos Sainz: It's difficult to draw comparisons from the Baku track layout to Monaco or Singapore, even if it's a street circuit. They are all very different and unique. What I will say is it's a very tough circuit to race at, not necessarily tougher than Monaco, but it gets quite close to it and any small error will be punished. You have to keep concentration levels high all weekend. Last year's race was spectacular for the fans and I had an interesting afternoon myself. After a compromised start to avoid contact, I dropped near the back of the pack but I managed to finish eighth, which was very satisfying.

Have you explored the city of Baku?
CS: It seems a cool place with a blend of modern and old architecture. The medieval castle is very impressive and we are lucky to drive past it on every lap. I think that's very unique and some of the photos you see are very cool and different. One perk of Baku is the hotel is very close to the track, so logistically it makes our lives easier. There's been some impressive concerts during the Formula 1 weekend in Baku with great artists. Fans have a great time here and that is always important.

With three races under your belt, what is your feeling on the Renault R.S.18?
CS: In general, I think these three first races have been quite positive and the whole team is showing great commitment to achieve our objectives. On my side, I have had the chance to try different set ups in the car and I'm confident we're heading in the right direction. We have to keep up the good work and always try to improve to bring as many points home as possible.

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Published: 23/04/2018
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