June 19, 2017

Where are we off to this weekend? Here are some clues: it's a city circuit, but cars can hit speeds of over 340 km/h. Its name means "city of the winds." Have you guessed where we are? Yep, that's it, Baku! This weekend we are back on track for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

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As usual, it's time to enjoy a virtual lap of the track, this time with Daniil Kvyat at the wheel. Our Russian driver is our guide around the streets of the splendid Azerbaijani capital, situated on the Caspian Sea. It's a breathtaking scene, where the drivers rush at speeds in excess of 300 kilometres per hour through the streets of the city centre, until reaching the narrow medieval area where the track has its narrowest point, no wider than seven metres. Old and new meld together, delivering a unique Grand Prix, full of all the tricky bits that one associates with a street circuit: it requires a driver to dig deep and drive precisely.

To be competitive in Baku, one needs good traction coming out of the slow corners, but it's also necessary not to run too much downforce, because run too much drag and you won't have sufficient top speed down the straights. In order to keep their cars stuck to the road in Baku, Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat will have one set of White Medium tyres, 3 Yellow Soft and 9 Red Supersoft.

Drivers have to watch out for unexpected gusts of wind which are pretty frequent in these parts and affect the balance of the car from one lap to the next. On the mechanical front, reliability of the engine and gearbox is paramount. The power units run flat out for 65% of the lap and a race distance requires over 3800 gear changes. One also has to keep an eye on fuel consumption, which is always on the limit here which means drivers have to use the classic "lift and coast" technique to save fuel during the race.