The Baku Street Circuit must be loved, respected and understood – otherwise “it can bite you” – says last year’s winner Daniel Ricciardo.
Ricciardo, who took his fifth career victory in last year’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix and comes fresh from his sixth career victory in last week’s Chinese Grand Prix – won the race from tenth on the grid last year, in what turned out to be a crazy race. This is because Baku is a street circuit where overtaking can happen, Ricciardo says – unlike other street circuits on the calendar.
“Baku is different to other street circuits – because there are places where you can pass. Actually, lots of places where you can pass. As opposed to Monaco and Singapore where there’s not many places to overtake really.
“The trickiest thing in Baku is braking. There’s so many braking points where you have to commit and you have to brake as late as you can – but there’s no room for error.
“Once you’ve committed to that braking point, if you’ve locked a wheel, you’re in the wall. I’d say the hardest part about Baku is finding the limit with braking, and just having that confidence.
“You have Turn One, Turn Two and then the DRS straight. We’re honking down there, and then you see the wall coming, coming, coming and your instinct is to brake, brake, brake, brake.
“You need a lot of confidence to leave it late. That’s the biggest challenge with Baku, being able to really attack the braking, it’s such a high-speed circuit.
“Monaco is not that high-speed, it’s more about cornering, and Baku is more braking.
“With a street circuit you have to love it – but you also have to respect it and understand it. I understand that, to be fast, you have to be on the limit – but put yourself there and it can bite you.”
Ricciardo commented last week that he “doesn’t win boring races“, and likened last year’s “crazy” Baku race – in which Sebastian Vettel deliberately drove into Lewis Hamilton and Lance Stroll took third place – to last week’s Chinese Grand Prix.
“Last year Baku was crazy in so many ways for so many people. Just like last week in Shanghai the team had an awesome strategy and made some great calls in the race.
“Did I think we would carve our way all the way up to first, no way, but everyone in front was dropping like flies, I was making some good overtakes and there was just all this momentum keeping me going.
“Crossing the line I was a bit confused, thinking how did we just win that race but also ecstatic. It was crazy, fun race and definitely one to remember.”