Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team driver Marcus Ericsson has predicted that tyre management will be crucial in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Degradation has been a notable factor in the first two races at the Baku City Circuit, however this year sees a different challenge, with the event moved forward from its usual June slot. Early weather forecasts suggest cooler temperatures, something that may ease the Swede’s worries.
“Tyre management will be a key factor, as the degradation of the tyres is quite high during the race,” said Ericsson. “It is quite a cool track, with a good mix of high-speed sectors and challenging corners.”
Ericsson looked at the additional challenges posed by Formula 1‘s newest street circuit, putting particular emphasis on the narrowest corner on the calendar – known colloquially as the ‘castle chicane’, or Turns 8 and 9. The uphill right hander is just 7.6 metres wide, and was the site of a red flag inducing crash in FIA Formula 2‘s feature race.
“The race in Baku will be our first street race of the season,” added Ericsson. “What is special about the track is that it features some twisty parts, mainly around the castle.
“The track is very narrow there, and you must be very precise as a driver.”
Baku also boasts the longest straight on the Formula 1 calendar, a 2.2 kilometre long stretch along Neftchilar Avenue, where the pits are located. Mixed with several slow corners, the circuit demands a lot of different strengths from the car, making car setup a fine balance.
“Another challenge will be to set up the car to suit the demands of the circuit,” the 27-year-old noted. “I look forward to going to Baku, and continuing our strong performance from the first three races of the year.”
Courtesy of Ericsson at the Bahrain Grand Prix, Sauber scored their earliest points finish in three years – when Ericsson and then team-mate Felipe Nasr both finished in the top ten at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix.