Formula 1

McLaren’s Gil de Ferran: Baku “one of the most challenging venues we go to”

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Lando Norris - McLaren F1 Team - Shanghai International Circuit
Credit: Zak Mauger/McLaren

Gil de Ferran feels the Baku City Circuit is one of the most challenging venues on the Formula 1 calendar, primarily due to its mixture of the longest straight of the year coupled with tight and twisty sections, both of which require completely different car set-ups.

Compromise will be the name of the game across the field this weekend as Azerbaijan hosts the fourth Grand Prix of the 2019 Formula 1 season as teams look to find the best set-up that will aid them along the straight as well as through the twisty bits.

De Ferran, the sporting director of the McLaren F1 Team, admits street racing is much less predictable than any other standard race track, although strategy remains a key part of the weekend and can make or break the team’s results.

“The city circuit’s mix of 90-degree corners, technical middle sector and long final straight create a unique challenge in Formula 1, and rarely do we see the cars reaching such high speeds on a street circuit,” said de Ferran.  “In many respects it is one of the most challenging venues we go to.

“A street race brings that extra degree of uncertainty, so race strategy is also challenging. Our pit-stop performances have been very good this year, so continuing to execute well on both of these fronts is certainly our goal.”

De Ferran hopes the weekend can generate some points for both of his drivers, Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr., the latter of which has yet to break into the top ten in any of the three races of the season so far.  McLaren currently sit seventh in the Constructors’ Championship heading into the Azerbaijan Grand Prix thanks to Norris’ sixth place finish in the Bahrain Grand Prix.

“Another circuit, another set of challenges, but the same attitude!” said de Ferran.  “We remain calmly focused on doing all that we can, together with Carlos and Lando, to deliver the best possible race weekend and hopefully some points.” 

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