By James Malleson
- The eighth race of the season starts in Baku, Azerbaijan
- Lewis Hamilton looks to gain back-to-back wins
BAKU, AZERBAIJAN – Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel commence battle once again on the street circuit of Azerbaijan.
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Lewis Hamilton’s Past Record
This is only the second time an F1 race has been held in Azerbaijan where Lewis Hamilton does not have the best memories as here he finished in fifth place last year.
The Brit started the grid in tenth place and remained that way until lap four where he overtook Daniil Kvyat to move into ninth place. On lap 10 Hamilton overtook Max Verstappen as he ran wide on the bend. On lap 23, both Hamilton and Sergio Perez took their opportunity to pass Daniel Ricciardo but problems unfortunately occurred for Hamilton and by lap 32 he was stuck in the wrong engine mode. The Brit got his act together and by lap 44 he had managed to sort out the engine problem he was having, and even set the fastest lap in fifth place which is the position he crossed the line in.
He will be hoping to improve on his record here in Baku from last time out.
Sebastian Vettel’s Past Record
Sebastian Vettel will have more fond memories of his time in Azerbaijan last year where he finished second behind Nico Rosberg.
Vettel started the grid in fourth place after a decent qualifying lap time. Vettel had a good start and managed to get ahead of Kimi Raikkonen who was closely followed by Perez. Ricciardo pitted shortly after, meaning the order was Rosberg, Vettel and Valtteri Bottas in third. At the end of lap 21 Vettel decided to pit for a change of tyres and emerged in third behind Ricciardo. Jostling for places ensued and by lap 27, Vettel had moved into second after Raikkonen let him pass. Vettel now lying in second was 18 seconds behind the leader Rosberg, which is how the positions ended.
There is still room for improvement for Vettel, but the way he has been racing this season suggests he could better his result from last year.
A Circuit Full of Variety
The Baku City Circuit is the second longest track on the current F1 calendar and is only beaten in length by the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.
As well as its length, it also incorporates variety into the street circuit. Most of the corners are of low speed and the straights long and fast. If drivers are to be successful here they need to be able to adapt to the shape and curves of the track. This circuit is perfect for cars with good mechanical grip but also cars with good engine power.
It also has variety regarding the width of the track. The widest part being 13m whilst the narrowest part is just 7.6m wide. Drivers will need to be well aware of these dimensions and adjust their car speeds and awareness.
Opportunities to Overtake
There are two DRS zones which allow for extra speed to be maintained. The first one is between Turns Two and Three which appears on a straight. This is a good place to have it and the drivers which get a good start will have the opportunity to stay ahead, whilst the chasing pack can get an opportunity to overtake at the start of each lap.
The second DRS zone appears at the end of each lap between Turns 20 and One and provides a good chance for the drivers who are looking to overtake at this point in the lap. While there are two DRS zones there are also other areas to overtake. There are a variety of straights situated all over the track and considering this is a street circuit it is surprising to see so many.
Facts for Thought
- The Baku City Circuit is the second longest track on the F1 calendar at 6.003km.
- It is the newest circuit on the calendar and was only introduced last year (2016).
- Rosberg set the lap record time of 1:46.485 last year (2016).
- The circuit was designed by Hermann Tilke, who has also designed a number of other F1 circuits.
The Azarbaijan Grand Prix takes place between 23-25 June.
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