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Azerbaijan Grand Prix
Baku City Circuit
Azerbaijan Grand Prix
Whether a Grand Prix through the streets of Baku will become a classic? The future will tell. That it is a special circuit is in any case certain. The circuit has a very contradictory character. On the one hand there is the tight castle section, where the track is narrower than any other circuit on the F1 calendar, and on the other hand there is the gigantic straight where the start/finish lies.
The start/finish line is at the end of the main straight of the track, which has seen drivers hit speeds of 360 km/h making it the fastest street circuit. Heading down into turn one the drivers go onto a mini straight before turn two, the first DRS straight of the race, before heading into sector two.
Sector two is the more technical part of the race, with various quick turns and chicanes. Turns three and four set up for the fast chicane of turns five and six before the right turn seven leads to one of the tightest parts of a Formula 1 track throughout the year.
Turns eight, nine, ten and eleven are two chicanes after each other, with the entry being only just over a cars width into turn eight. Lewis Hamilton crashed his car into turn ten during qualifying for the 2016 European Grand Prix, causing him to start tenth for the race.
Turn twelve leads to the high-speed lefts of thirteen and fourteen, before the hard-braking section of turn fifteen, when Daniel Ricciardo crashed his Red Bull in FP3 in 2016.
After turn sixteen it’s near flat-out through turn seventeen and the chicane of eighteen/nineteen and through the second DRS zone until the end of the lap. This part of the track usually shows which cars have the best engine power as it’s full throttle to obtain the maximum speed.
Even though Baku City Circuit has only hosted a few Grand Prix the past few years they have certainly been and entertaining watch.
2016 as the European Grand Prix saw Nico Rosberg comfortably win ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Sergio Perez taking the last spot on the podium. Hamilton managed to claw his way back to fifth position after starting tenth due to crashing out in qualifying.
In 2017 it was a much more entertaining spectacle as there was a huge point of controversy between Hamilton and Vettel during the race.
Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen collided with each other at turn three on the first lap, giving Bottas a puncture and putting him a lap behind the rest of the field.
During the second safety car period Vettel hit the back of Hamilton but claimed he ‘brake tested him’ causing the collision. Vettel, moments later, again collided with Hamilton after driving up alongside him and hitting the side of the Mercedes.
The Force Indias of Perez and Esteban Ocon collided after the restart, leading the race being red-flagged for a short period to clear the debris. Because of the collisions Vettel served a 10-second stop go penalty whilst Hamilton had to pit to have his headrest sorted.
Ricciardo ultimately won the race with Bottas in second, after un-lapping himself and catching Lance stroll on the line.
Chaos ensued at the beginning of the race on 2018 with collisions between Raikkonen and Ocon, causing the Frenchman to retire from the race. Sergey Sirotkin made contact with Fernando Alonso and Nico Hulkenberg, leading to him stopping on-track at turn three.
The race resumed after the safety car and many laps later a collision between the two Red Bulls led to another. Max Verstappen made a late defensive move on his teammate into turn one causing him to run into the back of his car and retire them both.
Bottas, in the lead after the restart had to retire after suffering a puncture, handed the lead and win to Hamilton, followed by Raikkonen and Perez.
Last year at the Baku City Circuit
Valtteri Bottas grabbed his second win of the season at the 2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, a year after losing out on the win because of a very late puncture he suffered.
Bottas seemed determine to win, keeping his foot in it in the first corners when under attack from Lewis Hamilton. After the initial attack from the Brit, Bottas drove away from the pack and went on to win the race despite some late pressure from Hamilton. Sebastian Vettel finished third, while teammate Charles Leclerc ended fifth with the fastest lap a day after crashing his Ferrari in qualifying.
Four cars retired including Pierre Gasly, and 2018 podium sitter Sergio Perez put in another blinding performance to finish the race sixth for Racing Point.
His second win of the season meant Bottas took back the lead in the championship because of his bonus point in Australia. It proved to be his last win until the Japanese Grand Prix, however.
What does the race weekend of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix look like?
On 5 June the first free practice starts at 10am GMT, followed by FP2 from 14:00. The press conferences of team bosses and drivers are already scheduled on Thursday June 4th. Qualifying will be held on Saturday June 6th from 14:00 with the race the next day starting at 13:10. This is in preparation for the start time of all the European races that will pass after the Baku GP.
What time does the Azerbaijan Grand Prix start?
As in previous years, the GP of Azerbaijan can be followed live in the live blog of GPblog from half an hour before the start of the race. The start time of the Baku Grand Prix is 13:10 GMT and the race can be followed live on Sky Sports F1 as well as all practice sessions and qualifying in the build-up to the race.
The 2020 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
The Baku City Circuit has been on the calendar since 2016, albeit as the Grand Prix of Europe that year. From 2017 the race was renamed to the GP of Azerbaijan and there has been fireworks on the streets of Baku several times. In 2017 it would be impossible to forget the quarrel between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel behind the safety car, as well as in 2018 the drama between both Red Bulls.
For this season, with the arrival of the Dutch Grand Prix, this race has shifted more towards the summer and will be held immediately after the Monaco Grand Prix. The contrast between the two street circuits could hardly have been greater.
With over six kilometres of asphalt, the lap times of the GP of Baku are logically a lot higher than those of the small lap through the principality. Charles Leclerc recorded a 1:43.009 in 2019, which makes the drivers more than half a minute longer than in Monte Carlo. Also one of the highest top speeds of the year is measured here. Something that is impossible in Monaco.
|Race||6 June 2021||08:10 - 10:10|
|Times are in America/New_York Timezone|
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