Azerbaijan GP Preview – Wolff: “The team has been working flat-out…”

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Mercedes released the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix preview featuring comments from team boss Toto Wolff. You can read the full preview below!

“We head to Baku refreshed after a hectic Monaco weekend full of red flags, delays and changeable weather,” Wolff said.

“We scored solid points, but more was possible over the weekend, and we need to be maximising every opportunity we can to stay in the fight.

“As in Barcelona, the slow-speed corners of Monaco presented the W13 a tough challenge but also provided us with valuable learning. With another street circuit in Baku up next, the team has been working flat-out to analyse those two races and identify the areas we can innovate to push us forward.

“Baku often produces some fun and crazy track action, and the layout generates good racing opportunities. So, let’s see if it lives up to its reputation this weekend,”the Austrian concluded.

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Fact File: Azerbaijan Grand Prix

  • There have been five races and five different winners at the Baku City Circuit since F1’s debut in Baku during the 2016 season; no driver has been able to win this Grand Prix more than once so far. That also applies to pole positions, as a different driver has headed the starting grid in all five races staged to date.
  • At 6.003 km, the Baku City Circuit is the third-longest on the calendar – only the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps (7.004 km) and the Jeddah Corniche Circuit (6.174 km) are longer.
  • The track itself can be described as a mix of Monaco and Monza, because the section of track in the old town’s narrow maze of streets reminds us of the Principality, while the long straights and heavy braking zones rather resemble the Temple of Speed in Monza’s Royal Park.
  • Drivers have to change gear 68 times over the course of a lap – the same number of times as at the Bahrain International Circuit and more than at any other circuit on the current Formula One calendar.
  • The track at Baku is quite narrow in places but does not require drivers to make big steering inputs unlike last time out in Monaco. Turn 8 in Baku, for example, is tighter than the hairpin (Turn 6) in Monaco, but with it only being through 90 degrees as opposed to 180 in the Principality, it doesn’t require special suspension to navigate.
  • Setting up an F1 car for Baku is a tricky task due to its extraordinary mix of tight corners and long straights with heavy braking zones. Teams like to dial in as much downforce as possible for the many slow corners while at the same time achieving a minimal amount of drag down the long straights. This calls for a compromise in the setup, similar to Spa-Francorchamps, where reducing drag without losing too much downforce is a key consideration.
  • The tarmac on the Baku City Circuit is very smooth, and some sections of it are re-laid annually to completely cover the old town’s cobblestones. Getting tyres up to temperature can be tough due to the very low average steer angle, which results in very little energy being put into the tyres. Teams have to rely more on the heat from braking to keep tyres warm since not as much energy is generated in the corners as at other circuits.
  • There has been at least one safety car deployment in three of the five races held so far in Baku. In all, there have been seven SC periods spread over these three Grands Prix, which corresponds to a SC probability rating of 60%. The reason for that is obvious. As the run-off zones are not particularly generous, an incident or technical problem can soon lead to Bernd Mayländer being called out.
  • Any safety car deployment is inevitably followed by one of the toughest restarts of the season on the 2.2 km start/finish straight, with a strong risk of another safety car having to be sent out. Overtaking is only allowed from the control line, which comes quite late.
  • There are two ways in which the leader can accelerate at the wrong time. On the one hand, if he overtakes the safety car before the control line, this will lead to an instant penalty, but on the other hand, he runs the risk of being outbraked by his pursuer in Turn 1. At the same time, however, the man behind cannot afford to get too close and pick up the slipstream too early before the control line, as this increases the likelihood of another incident and the safety car being sent out again.
  • The section from the exit at Turn 16 leading to the braking zone for Turn 1 is the longest full-throttle passage of the year and is around 200 metres longer than the segment from Turns 1 to 5 at Spa-Francorchamps. Overall, 76% of the lap distance is taken at full throttle in Baku.
  • Baku has the highest braking energy figures recorded at any time during the entire season, well ahead of the circuit in second place in terms of braking, Bahrain. There are ten braking ‘events’ out on track, tying with Monaco for most of the season, five of which can be counted as ‘heavy’ braking events, leading to forces of more than 4g being generated for more than 0.4 seconds.
  • Most street circuits are not necessarily known for top speed, but Baku is different because of its long straights. Topping out at 322 km/h, cars can reach the second highest speed of the season so far – only in Miami have we seen a higher top speed of 324 km/h so far.

Source: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team

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