Williams Martini Racing‘s Chief Technical Officer Paddy Lowe has said that the Baku City Circuit has been “a great addition” to Formula 1 since its inaugural race in 2016.
Williams head into this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix without a point to their name in 2018, however the track holds fond memories for the struggling Grove team. Lance Stroll took his maiden podium in last year’s unforgettable race, a key result in their successful quest to finish in the top five in last year’s Constructors’ Championship.
The 2.2 kilometre long straight may play into Williams’ strengths. Valtteri Bottas recorded the highest top speed recorded by a Formula 1 car in Qualifying for the 2016 race, clocking 235 miles per hour – passing Antônio Pizzonia‘s 12 year-old record of 229.7 miles per hour, again set in a Williams.
“We head to Baku for the third time this weekend, and it has proven to be a great addition to the Formula One calendar so far,” said Lowe.
“It is an exciting circuit with an incredible range of character from the slow track through the old city to the very long straight at the startfinish line.”
After a trying start to the season with the inexperienced pairing of Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin – who took two points scoring finishes in the FIA Formula 2 round in Baku last year – Lowe is hoping for the cooler conditions, caused by the race being moved from its usual late June slot, to help reshuffle the order and give Williams a lifeline.
“Last year produced a very eventful race and memorable one for Williams, with Lance securing his first Formula One podium and indeed the only podium last year from a team not in the top three,” Lowe added.
“It is earlier in the calendar year this season which should make for some cooler conditions than we have seen previously.”
However, Lowe said that whilst he is hopeful for another strong showing by Stroll, he is not banking on a repeat of his podium heroics ten months ago.
“For Lance it would be bold to expect another podium but he should perform well given his significant achievements in Baku last year.”
Lowe is also optimistic for Sirotkin’s weekend, suggesting that the potential for a Russian contingent in the grandstands may help the 22-year-old in finding an extra tenth when it matters.
“We look forward to returning to Baku and making the best of this race to put on a good show for our new Azerbaijani fans. Russia is also a close neighbour of Azerbaijan and so we expect some great support for Sergey in his first Formula One race there.”