Formula 1

Renault’s Nick Chester on Baku: “There’s always a compromise for downforce levels”

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Nico Hulkenberg - Renault F1 Team - Shanghai International Circuit
Credit: Renault F1 Team

Nick Chester, Renault F1 Team’s Chassis Technical Director, likens the Baku City Circuit to a combination of three other venues on Formula 1 schedules, each that would ideally have its own set-up and downforce configuration.

Chester likens the first sector to the Sochi Autodrom in Russia, sector two like Monaco, and sector three like the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Canada, with all three completely different to each other.

However, compromises will need to be made to be quick, with lower downforce levels enabling a higher top speed on the straights that will have a negative effect on the pace through the many ninety-degree corners at Baku.

“Baku has a nice layout, which makes it very interesting,” said Chester.  “It’s almost three circuits put together.

“The first section is like Sochi with right-angled corners and some straights, then the middle section is similar to Monaco and the final part like Canada with a long straight. It’s a tricky combination to get right as, ideally, you’d run a different downforce level for each sector.

“There’s always a compromise for downforce levels there. Any mistake will get punished and, unlike a lot of street circuits, Baku is quite fast. Drivers find it tricky, but it’s an exciting track that’s for sure.

“More so than most circuits, you need an efficient aero package where you can run a reasonable amount of downforce without too much drag. Drivers need to be good on the brakes and also through tight and slow corners.”

Chester says Renault will be bringing a new front and rear wing package as well as an update to the sidepod area for Baku, and he feels every team will trade-off downforce to ensure the quickest lap possible.

“Most teams will run a lower downforce rear wing than they’ve run in previous races,” said Chester.  “There will be a variety of levels with a trade-off between time in the middle section against the last section.

“The main change on the R.S.19 is the medium downforce package with new front and rear wings as well as a small update to the sidepod area.”

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