After a weekend off, the FIA Formula One World Championship is back this weekend at the notoriously unpredictable Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda are looking to keep their momentum rolling after a sixth place finish last time out in Monaco, will they repeat their speed on the streets again?
Monaco was an unbelievable weekend for the team, and in particular for number one driver Pierre Gasly, who after qualifying in sixth followed it up with sixth in the race. Gasly crossed the line ahead of drivers like Lewis Hamilton in what was a huge step forward after looking good at the start of the season.
“We come to the Baku race after what was an excellent weekend for us in Monaco, when I was always in the top ten in all sessions, and then sixth in qualifying, my best of the season which I think was a very strong performance,” said Gasly. “Then I finished sixth, having Lewis behind me for the entire race.
“During the race, you don’t really think about who is driving the car behind you, although of course I knew it was him.”
Gasly and the team will be looking to repeat their success this weekend, at what is another street circuit with the prime difference being that 2.22 km home straight at Baku, making overtaking very possible.
“I’d say Baku is a really unusual track and it has something in common with Monaco, being a street circuit in the centre of a town, so it’s not a normal sort of track. That means you have to set up the car a bit differently. You run with much lower downforce than in Monaco, and the corners are much slower in Baku, but it is similar in terms of grip and in some other characteristics, and we will be using the C5 softest tyres again.”
“The lack of surface grip and the low downforce means it is not a straightforward challenge and it is difficult to find the best set up for the car with the long straight that means the tyres and brakes lose temperature a lot and there are other factors to take into account to get everything out of the car over one lap and also in the race.”
“I quite like the circuit, I finished second in GP2 a few years ago but in F1, although I was quite competitive, I have always had some bad luck, but I plan to change that this week. I hope we will be able to perform at a similar or even better level than in Monaco.”
“I have never raced there before” – Tsunoda
This weekend will represent an enormous challenge for rookie Yuki Tsunoda, who has never raced around the Baku City Circuit. This challenge comes at a difficult time for Tsunoda, who after impressing many early on in the season, has failed to live up to his early season hype over the past few rounds.
Monaco was another challenging weekend for the youngster who struck the wall in FP2 damaging his experience building of the circuit, an important lesson he has learnt about street circuits.
“Baku will be another new experience for me and I should benefit from some lessons learned in Monaco, another street circuit. My plan building up to the race in Monaco was to maximise the number of laps I did in practice, but unfortunately in FP2 I hit the wall and for me that was the main downside of the last weekend.
“Even though I didn’t feel that I had lost confidence because of the crash, in Qualifying that last bit of confidence, for example in the fast corners, is very important so I learned an important lesson, especially for street tracks, not to go into the wall!”
Tsunoda has spent plenty of time in the simulator in the run up to this weekend, in a bid to get up to speed as quickly as possible whilst hopefully avoiding the walls.
“This week is Baku, I have never raced there before but I have driven it on the simulator of course. Most of the corners seem to be 90 degree turns and almost all the corners are taken in similar speed range so it will be interesting. It’s another street circuit, but it looks as though it might be a little bit easier to adapt to than Monaco.”
“Hopefully I will be in a better situation there. Again, I will try and do as many laps as possible and my main aim will be to make sure I don’t get too close to the walls in practice and Qualifying. I will take the Monaco experience and everything I learned there and apply it in Azerbaijan.”