Saturday, June 19, 2021

Williams Racing Azerbaijan grand prix preview

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The 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix gets underway this weekend, as the team heads to the streets of Baku for the sixth round of the FIA Formula One World Championship. Baku City Circuit delivers one of the most challenging races of the season, as the drivers contend with the tight and twisting configuration of Icheri Sheher old town, with the narrowest point of the track measuring just 7.6 metres wide. Unusually for a street circuit, the track also offers a long, high-speed straight situated along the city’s shoreline, posing the additional challenge of balancing the car set-up to perform in both extremes.

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance: It’s great to be able to return to the streets of Baku for the first time since 2019. This circuit presents some unique challenges for both the car and the drivers and although it is a street circuit, it also has some long straights and some opportunities to overtake. The tight section past the old castle is the signature corner sequence on the circuit, however, every part of the track offers something different, all set against the backdrop of the city and coastline of Baku. The camber of the roads, large gradient changes, and the varying track width all add to the challenge and ensure that setting the car up to be strong over the full 6km lap is very tricky.

Pirelli bring their softest compound line-up to this event, and although the compounds are the same as we used last time out in Monaco, the behaviour is likely to be quite different on this long and demanding circuit.

George Russell: I’m looking forward to Baku. It’s another street circuit, but it has a different dynamic to Monaco. There’s a lot of big braking zones from high-speed and with walls just behind the track it’s difficult to attack the corners. You also go through the castle section which has the trickiest corner on the Formula One calendar, it’s so tight and you can win or lose so much time there. I have mixed feelings from Baku; it’s always been one of my best circuits, but I’ve never had a huge amount of luck there. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to it and let’s see how we get on.

Nicholas Latifi: I am very excited to get back racing, especially with it being the second street track in a row which is always a lot of fun. I got to experience my first street race in Formula One in Monaco which was very enjoyable so I’m looking forward to driving between some more walls in Baku. It is a track I like having achieved quite a lot of podiums there in FIA Formula 2. I can’t wait to tackle the challenge of getting around in a Formula One car which I am sure will be tricky. There are some very long straights so hopefully can have a bit more excitement than we did last time out in Monaco. All in all, I can’t wait to hit the track.

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