Formula 1

“The demands of this city track are still relatively low” – Pirelli’s Mario Isola

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2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Sunday - Wolfgang Wilhelm

This weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix looks set to be as wild and unpredictable as it has been for the last several years, where each Grand Prix at the Baku City Circuit has produced a different winner.

The second fastest street circuit on the calendar will see drivers use the softest range of Pirelli’s tyres, with the manufacturer bringing the C3, C4 and C5 compounds for the weekend.

Teams usually opt for a medium to low downforce set-up, with the circuit consisting of incredibly long straights, as well as a number of tight and twisty turns. The race usually generates plenty of action, crashes, Safety Cars and traditionally a red flag.

Being a city circuit surrounded by buildings, the track temperature varies due to the shade produced by the facilities, meaning that different parts of the circuit possess different temperatures.

Sergio Pérez won last year’s bonkers race, which saw dramatic tyre failures for both Lance Stroll and Max Verstappen, with the latter’s taking place at around 200 mph. Pirelli will be hoping for no failures on that scale this weekend.

Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Mario Isola, is expecting the track temperature to play a role, as well as the demand that the high speeds put on the rubber.

“Until Jeddah came along, Baku was the fastest street circuit of the year. But the demands of this city track are still relatively low, as none of the corners take a huge amount of energy out of the tyres due to the low levels of abrasion and contained lateral loads – which means that we can have the same nomination as Monaco. Having said that, the high speeds in Azerbaijan still place a certain demand on the tyres.

“The main point is all about traction, with finding the right balance between front and rear axles being the key challenge for all the teams: you need to have enough heat in the front tyres to generate grip, despite the long straights that cool them down, but not too much heat at the rear, otherwise it’s easy to overheat them in the traction zones. Track temperature is also inconsistent in Baku, so all in all it’s quite a specific track with a few different technical challenges, which are nonetheless the same for everyone.”

Credit: Pirelli Motorsport
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