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Drivers give Baku City Circuit the thumbs up

17 Jun 2016

Having studied the layout on their simulators and taken a close look at the finer details on their track walks, the drivers finally got to drive Azerbaijan’s brand-new Baku City Circuit in anger on Friday – and the 6 km high-speed street circuit did not disappoint…

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

“I've enjoyed driving here today. The track isn't easy - not because the layout is particularly difficult to learn but because it's very slippery out there. It's quite Monaco-esque in terms of braking and how close the barriers are - but you're arriving at much higher speeds. Otherwise it's like a mixture of Valencia and Sochi with the smooth track surface and the style of the corners themselves. It's a real challenge and I think it's going to be tough for everyone over the weekend. It takes a lot of focus, which is something I like.”

Valtteri Bottas, WIlliams

“I really like the track. It’s very demanding, it has some high speed corners and some twisty, more technical areas, so it’s definitely one of the most challenging tracks on the calendar, but at the same time it’s a lot of fun. At a new track there’s always more to learn, which I enjoy. It’s interesting finding out all the secrets corner by corner.”

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull

“I think the circuit is pretty cool, it’s definitely as tight as it looks and has a lot of corners unlike any others on the calendar. There are a few interesting lines past the castle which adds to the toughness. It’s pretty unique and as I showed this morning some of the corners are pretty challenging and not that easy. Being a street circuit if you want to be quick you need to find the limit and get close to the walls.”

Sergio Perez, Force India

“I knew when I walked the track yesterday that it was going to be good fun to drive - and today didn’t disappoint. It’s an amazing circuit: really challenging, no margin for error, and a real pleasure to drive. I kept things tidy today, but it’s easy to make a mistake and we saw that when cars do run wide they really pay a high penalty.”

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari

“The track is very difficult, you have quite a long straight leading into hard brakings. At the beginning to find the reference is quite tricky. Your own orientation is not enough and all the trees look the same. After a while you find the rhythm, you know the bumps and then it becomes a bit better. But at the beginning it took some time. Plus it was quite slippery to start, so it was definitely more fun this afternoon. However, it seems a nice track, quite challenging, especially the high speed sections.”

Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso

“I’m pleasantly surprised with this track, I like it. It’s a high-speed circuit with very close walls and tight run-off areas, which requires maximum precision and concentration. The long straights here in Baku also make you run low downforce at a street circuit, which is something new in Formula 1. Before today I had only driven it on the sim and I have to say that doing it for real is much better: in the sim the walls are transparent, while here you have the excitement of being so close to them… the adrenaline rush you feel around these streets is big and I really enjoyed it out there today! It’s a fun challenge and I look forward to tomorrow!”

Nico Hulkenberg, Force India

“Coming here to Baku has been great fun and the track is very cool. It’s got a bit of everything, with long straights, big braking zones and some exciting high-speed corners, which all the drivers enjoy. So, overall you have to say they’ve done a really good job with the circuit and it makes a nice change to come here and try something that is so different.”