Williams Racing’s senior race engineer, Dave Robson, expects drivers and teams up and down the paddock to experiment with their downforce levels across the early stages of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend as they bid to find the best compromise through the different aspects of the Baku City Circuit.
Baku has the longest straight on the calendar but as a street circuit has a number of slow ninety-degree corners, which makes set-up compromises guaranteed, with low drag preferable in the fast section and high downforce in the slower sections.
Robson expects different levels of downforce to come into place across the weekend but he expects a variety of challenges to come the way of his team, who remain seated to the bottom of the Constructors’ Championship without a point in the opening three races of 2019.
“The streets of Baku serve as the race track for round four of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship,” said Robson. “The circuit delivers a variety of challenges, including some severe gradients, difficult braking zones, and a particularly long straight.
“With the main competitive sessions of the weekend taking place at twilight, the track can cool quickly, often catching drivers out. At over six-kilometres, the circuit is the second longest of the season, with only Spa Francorchamps being longer.
“Due to the varied layout of the circuit, we can expect teams to experiment with drag level during the weekend as drivers grapple with the conflicting requirements of long straights and a very tight twisty section in the middle of the lap.”
Baku has good memories for one of Williams’ drivers in George Russell, who won a spectacular FIA Formula 2 sprint race there in 2018 on his way to winning the title, but for team-mate Robert Kubica, it will be the Polish drivers’ first-time racing at the venue.
“For our drivers, George is familiar with the track having won the Baku F2 Sprint race in 2018, but for Robert this will be a new experience in his comeback season,” said Robson.