“[Baku is] awesome. I don’t really know what I was expecting but it has exceeded all my expectations. The diversity of the city is really striking; the mix of old and new makes it a pretty spectacular setting for a Grand Prix. I really like it here and I’m sure the fans will too.
“I think it’s going to be incredible to drive. It’s certainly one of the faster tracks on the calendar and in particular Turn 15 looks really exciting. The walls are so close yet the track is really narrow and fast there. It’s a bit like Monaco in that one little mistake could be punished quite severely.”
“The great thing about Baku is that it’s new for everyone - all the teams and all the drivers - so it’s a case of mastering the circuit better than your competition. It’s a high-speed circuit so, much like Canada, will be well-suited to our package. There were some positive signs in Montreal but we missed some opportunities there, so I hope we can show more of our improvement here versus Sauber in particular.”
Dave Ryan, racing director
“There were a few raised eyebrows when these two races were announced. Back-to-back races tend to be at slightly closer quarters to each other, whereas Baku is 9000kms from Montreal, so it was a heck of a flight the morning after a big pack-up in Canada. Logistics is a significant part of a race team’s operations now though and we make life a little easier on ourselves by sending as much advance sea freight as possible. This means we can get in as soon as we land and start to set-up the basics, even when the air freight from Canada had yet to arrive at the circuit here in Baku. Of course, it’s also a brand new track, so a bit of an unknown quantity in logistical and race engineering terms, but we did plenty of homework before coming here and all things considered, we’re in pretty good shape. Everyone is looking forward to getting out on track now.”
"I don't know much about Azerbaijan. I'm really looking forward to getting there, as I've heard a lot of good things about it. I've heard that the track is very exciting, with parts leading through the whole town and narrow in places. So, I think it should be exciting. I am a big fan of street circuits. Usually, they are very tricky, bumpy, rough, very narrow places. So, hopefully Baku fulfills these expectations and goes in line with other street circuit classics."
Riccardo Adami, race engineer
"So far we have seen this track only on the simulator. We did a specific session to understand the characteristics of this track. It is a challenge because it features a very difficult sequence of corners and one long straight and then you go through the town with the famous turn 8, a peculiar turn of this track, where all of a sudden the course becomes very narrow. It will be very different from Canada, we're expecting warmer weather and even hot conditions. Normally, in this place, it should be quite windy. So, it will be a challenge for us to tackle properly the set up to find the right balance between the long straight and the slow speed corners and the braking."
“It's always interesting to go somewhere new. As it's a street circuit it will require plenty of work on the pedals and with the steering wheel and that's always exciting.
“You are looking for new ‘tricks’ in your driving style on a street circuit, because this type of track means the driver has more freedom in terms of how he approaches the corners, experimenting with different lines.
“I've driven the track on the simulator, which can give you a rough idea of what to expect and it helps the engineers come up with a baseline set-up, but there is no substitute for driving it for real. From the sim, the first thing that stands out when you look at the Baku circuit layout is the long straight that goes from Turn 16 to Turn 1. The start of the lap consists of four 90-degree corners and after that it gets very exciting: we drive through the city's historic centre, which looks like being a very tight section, where we will need to be very precise.
“There's another fast section through turns 13, 14 and 15 and I think the braking into Turn 15 will be quite tricky… We will see when we get there! After that you arrive at Turn 16, a medium-speed 90-degree turn, and you don't brake again until you reach the first corner. This track reminds me a bit of the Valencia street circuit. It will definitely be an interesting challenge that I'm ready for! I expect there will be a lot of Russian fans making the trip to Baku and I will have plenty of support from the crowd. It's going to be cool.”
“I'm really looking forward to this race even if, to be honest, I don't know what to expect!
“I've driven this track a few times on the sim, but experiencing a new circuit for the first time is always an exciting challenge.
“The first four turns are all 90-degree corners. Then, from Turn 5 onwards, it starts to get very interesting. It reminds me a lot of the Macau circuit: the section from Turn 7 to 12 is very similar to its tight section, while the long straight that goes from the exit of Turn 16 all the way to Turn 1 is very like its straight.
“The top speed here in Baku should be one of the highest of the season and it looks like you are flat out from the exit of Turn 16 all the way to the first corner! I think that the braking at Turn 15 will be tricky - at least it was on the sim! I can't say much more as I've never been there. I just hope it's actually as nice as Macau, which I've always regarded as the most iconic track and it would be great for Formula One to have a circuit like it.”
“I’m already really looking forward to getting out on track for the first time in Baku on Friday. In my role as Baku Ambassador, I’m lucky enough to have already seen the plans in detail for the new circuit and watch the venue come together over the past few months. The track layout is a really impressive hybrid of the buzz of a street circuit, with its tight narrow streets and close racing, and a more traditional track, where there are high speeds and solid overtaking opportunities.
“Having seen the development work in Baku as it’s neared completion over the past few months, it’s clear that the organisers have put a lot of planning and resources into the infrastructure around the circuit, and it promises to be a very significant event in the region. There are a lot of fans who’ve been excited about this Grand Prix for a long time now, so I’m looking forward to racing in front of them and putting on a good show in front of a new audience of fans that we’ve never reached before.
“This circuit is a great mix of both worlds, and as the fastest of any previous street track, I’m excited for the challenge and to see what’s possible in these kinds of conditions, where everything is a little bit unknown. I’ve already driven the track on the simulator and there’s certainly a lot that makes it unique - medieval walls close to the edge of the newly-laid asphalt, anti-clockwise corners, minimal run-off - so it seems to have all of the ingredients to give us a bit of drama and the prospect of exciting racing.
“The Canada race weekend started relatively well, but in the race we were outpaced by stronger teams. It was difficult to maintain heat in the tyres in cooler temperatures, which meant they didn’t perform as well, so we struggled to keep up with the guys in front. Some of Baku’s characteristics are similar, and despite being a street circuit will still be very demanding on power units and chassis. But, we’ll attack the weekend in our usual way, and keep pushing for more improvements in each session.”
“After a disappointing end to what was a fairly positive weekend in Canada until I had to retire the car, I’m already relishing the prospect of the next race - and at a new track, too. From what I’ve seen of it, the Baku City Circuit looks pretty cool - especially as the city centre has so much history attached to it, yet we’ll be roaring over the cobbles there at over 300km/h (186mph) in the middle of the city walls.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how they’ve transformed the area to accommodate a Grand Prix race. I’ve heard good things from Fernando about the layout too, with some really exciting narrow sections mixed in with wider areas that should be promising for overtaking. It’ll be tough on the car with its long, fast straight, strong loads on the ERS and high fuel consumption, so we need to buckle down and work hard to get our package set up as quickly as possible for the demands of this circuit.
“In terms of things like strategy, tyres, temperatures, of course we have a lot of simulator data - a few of the guys in the team have visited and already have a pretty good handle on the conditions - but until we get there, it’s all a bit of unfamiliar. Having a new circuit on the calendar definitely does spice things up a bit and puts everyone back on a more level playing field, at least initially, so I’m looking forward to the challenge of a new track.
“It’s imperative we bounce back quickly from the disappointment of Canada and the fact we go to a completely new Grand Prix means the focus will rapidly shift from one to the other - there’s definitely a heightened sense of anticipation and excitement for the next race. We’re working hard to keep improving race to race and despite the blip in Canada, hopefully we can continue seeing gains - however small - in the next few crazy weeks of back-to-back Grands Prix.”
Eric Boullier, Racing Director
“The Baku City Circuit promises to be another exciting spectacle on the Formula One calendar, and opens us up to a plethora of new fans and an even wider audience on the global sporting stage. From the initial visits that have been conducted there, and Fernando’s reports from his trips to Baku as Ambassador, we’ve received very positive feedback on the circuit and the infrastructure surrounding the venue, so we’re hopeful of a thrilling Grand Prix weekend in prospect.
“After a frustrating result in Montreal, it’s fortunate that we have very few days to turn our attention to not just the next race, but a completely new event, to get to know its characteristics, gather lots of data and interpret reams of information. The issue with Jenson’s power unit in Canada is still being investigated, but rest assured that together with Honda we will identify the issue and work hard to ensure it’s not repeated, as we have done in every Grand Prix so far this year.
“Montreal was particularly tough on our package despite our best efforts and our car’s strengths, but we knew it would be difficult and it was therefore justifiably disheartening to finish just outside the points. However, Baku is a new set of characteristics to prepare for, and we look forward to testing our chassis and power unit against the rigours of the world’s fastest street circuit, taking in the sights and sounds of a new Grand Prix venue and atmosphere, and presenting some enjoyable racing for our fans.”
Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer
"Though the circuit layout and atmosphere will no doubt be very different to the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit, we believe that Baku will be similar in its stop-and-go characteristics and long straights, so we think it’ll be another tough challenge for the team. Therefore, within the small window of time given to us between these two races, it’ll be very important for us to analyse and understand the data from Canada to bring out the current potential of the power unit in Baku.
“This particular back-to-back race will be strenuous for the team to adjust and prepare everything for this race weekend, but being part of the inaugural F1 race in Baku is surely something to look forward to, so I’m very excited about that."
“We had a (Baku) session on the simulator, and that’s about everything you can do. The simulators are getting better year after year, but it’s still not a real race car. There’s a lot you can do with a simulator, which is great, but nothing is as good as being in the car out on track. On the simulator, you can try a few different set-up ideas for direction. You can also try different philosophies and updates you’d like to try on the car later in the year and before you prepare them for actual racing.
“The more experience you have as a team, the better prepared you are for new tracks and different layouts. On the other hand, no one knows what to expect from Baku, so that’s going to be interesting for us.
“It’s certainly a circuit that’s very different from everything we’ve been used to. We’ll have to see how it goes in real life. There are very long, straight lines and a lot of 90 degree corners with low curves. There’s a very high section up to the castle and down again to the last corner, which will be quite interesting.”
“The simulator has been very important [in preparing]. It’s been quite an experience. Baku is a very challenging track and I really enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to getting there in person.
“I feel that it will be a bit more [of a level playing field], but that doesn’t clear the fact that as a team we have a bit less experience overall. That makes it complicated to predict things, because when you have more information and more experience, you can make better predictions. It will be interesting to get to know Baku and its characteristics and see where we stand. No matter what, we’ll approach it in a positive way and try to extract the maximum amount from our car at this new circuit.
“I cannot compare it to anything. From what I saw on the simulator, it’s a completely different racetrack. It’s really going to be quite a challenge, and I think that’s going to make things interesting for everybody. I liked it in the simulator, so I hope it’s going to be like that in reality.
“I didn’t know anything of Azerbaijan before the race was announced, but then I did a little bit of research to try and learn about the country and Baku. I’m looking forward to seeing it and enjoying the area.”
Guenther Steiner, team principal
“The technical guys take as much information as they can get from the FIA on the track layout and the surface of the track. Then, they make their best prediction of how to set the car up. Normally, the first time you go out on a new venue, you’re pretty far off on grip level because the track is very green. It develops as more and more rubber gets put down.
“The big teams have more information because they go and get more information. Normally, they are better off because they’ve got more people to get prepared. They will always have an advantage, but at a new venue like Baku, sometimes you can get lucky.
“You take the corners and the grip level and you just pick pieces of other circuits, but there isn’t one specific area where you could say, ‘We can do the same thing here that we do there.’ Baku will be a learning experience for everyone.”
“I’ve never been to Azerbaijan, so it should be interesting. In general, it’s a bit of an unknown for me. The track, from what we have seen, looks nice and very quick. I like going to new places, discovering new cultures and seeing new cities. I’m looking forward to learning more about the country, the city and especially the race track.”
“It will be my first time in Azerbaijan so I don’t know what to expect from the country. I’m really looking forward to discovering a nice country, good people, and also a race track which will be in the middle of the town. I don’t know yet if it will be more like Monaco, or maybe a mix between Monaco and Singapore. We will wait and see. I’ve heard the straights will be longer, so maybe there will be more overtaking on this track compared to the other street tracks that we race on. I hope we come away from Azerbaijan for the first time with a good result.”
Pat Symonds, chief technical officer
“Baku City Circuit looks to be an unusual track and so far simulations have had to be done using surveyor’s maps rather than detailed track scans. Perhaps the most notable feature of the 6km anticlockwise street circuit is the flat-out section from Turn 16, through the start-finish line and up to Turn 1, where we expect cars to be reaching speeds in excess of 320km/h. The first sector consists of a number of 90-degree turns before the start of the second sector with a series of relatively sharp corners in quick succession from Turns 7 to 12. The circuit then opens up to finish sector two before another 90-degree left-hander leading on to a long straight. It’s too far ahead for accurate weather forecasts, but normally in June maximum temperatures are in the mid-high 20s with the record highest average temperature for this month being 39 degrees C. Statistically we expect dryer weather than we see in Bahrain in April, with a total of 8mm rain for the whole of the month of June and only two days of wet weather being the norm. In Formula One we always enjoy a challenge and even in these days of sophisticated simulations a new circuit such as Baku will always throw up some surprises. It’s our job to get on top of the unexpected and rapidly learn the nuances of this new track.”
“The last weekend in Canada was not one of the easiest for me, so to come away from it with a point was a good result. I have now been in the points for the last four races on a range of very different tracks: this builds our confidence and makes us believe we can challenge for a place in the top ten in every race.
“To prepare for Baku I have watched the onboard video that was circulated and the first impression is that the track is going to be really challenging. There are a lot of tight sections, as you would expect from a street track, but it looks more high-speed than Monaco: it’s the kind of circuit I enjoy driving and it should make for a good show.
“I’ve never been to Azerbaijan, so it feels like an adventure. It’s always interesting to explore a new place for the first time and take in the sights of a new city. It’s great that our sport keeps going to new countries and reaching out to new fans. Once we get to the track, though, it’s business as usual. It’s important to learn the circuit quickly, so the track walk with the engineers and the first practice session are crucial. You need to get up to speed within a handful of laps.”
“Canada was a positive race as we were able to get the most out of a relatively straightforward weekend. To finish eighth in a race with such low attrition was a very good result and it showed we can fight for points everywhere. There is every reason to believe we can continue this run as we approach the summer break, and this obviously spurs us on.
“I’m massively excited about the race in Baku, actually! New venues are cool; everything is fresh and everyone welcomes you. I have to admit I don’t know a lot about Azerbaijan, so it will be exciting to get to know this new place. I like to arrive in a place and get out to discover it: it’s one of the perks of our job, being able to see so much of the world.
“Learning the track is crucial. I haven’t had a chance to try it in the simulator yet but I saw the video on YouTube earlier last week. In any case, it really is all about getting there, getting into the car and finding out about the track in those first few laps. The layout looks fast, especially for a street circuit: there is a massive straight, with just a few flat-out kinks, and some more twisty sections which will require a compromise in terms of set-up. I am a big fan of street circuits: they provide you with unique thrills, you drive close to the walls and it’s much more of a challenge to push your car and yourself to the limit.”
Vijay Mallya, team principal
“The race in Canada was another strong indication of the good steps forward we have been taking since the start of the season. We showed good pace all weekend and delivered a solid performance in the race. This result increased our advantage over our direct rivals in the constructors’ championship and consolidates our fifth position. We now have a very quick turnaround to get ready for Baku – a big challenge, especially as it’s a new addition to the calendar.
“Formula One’s arrival to a new country is always a positive sign: it shows there is a lot of appetite for our sport in new markets, which is not something we should underestimate. Some of the recent additions to the calendar, like Austin, Mexico and Russia, have proved to be very successful and there is no reason why Azerbaijan shouldn’t follow this trend. Hopefully, we will have a very interesting race to mark the start of this new venue’s history.
“The track is a mix of long straights and sharp corners and reminds me of the layout in Singapore. It has the characteristics of a street circuit, but it looks like there are some wide corners that offer overtaking opportunities. The way our car and the tyres will behave is still an open question as nobody has any data about the track, but it’s a challenge to which we look forward. We come to Azerbaijan in high spirits and we look forward to another race where I’m sure we can be competitive.”
"on to Baku. I'm excited because it's a new track so it's going to be a challenge for everyone, but the fact that it's a street circuit is really cool. I'm pretty optimistic that the city itself will be quite good fun. I've seen some pictures of the city and it looks cool – it sort of reminds me of Budapest a little bit, so let's see, I'm pretty excited to go there."
"Baku is new for everyone. You start from zero which I always like, and it's always good to discover new countries and new tracks.
"My dad has raced there back in 2012, and I've watched the races online and some parts of the track are pretty similar. He was pretty positive about the whole city in general saying it's a nice place to go so I'm looking forward to it.
"The track looks very interesting because it has such a long straight for a street circuit which will be difficult for the wing setting because on a street circuit you want lots of downforce but with such a long straight you have to find a good compromise."
Paul Hembery, motorsport director
“We’ve heard lots of interesting things about the circuit, and it seems that its character, lap length, and speed will certainly make it stand out. Obviously it’s never easy when you go to a circuit for the first time, but the conditions and the tyres are of course as always the same for everyone. The selection of compounds we have nominated should cope with a wide range of potential conditions; now of course it is down to the teams to get the most out of their choices and to identify the best possible strategies, which is why the running we see in free practice will be particularly important.”
More to follow.