F1 2021
Round 6

Welcome back, Baku!

az Baku Street Circuit

Welcome back, Baku! We return to the fast, unforgiving streets of Azerbaijan for Round 6 of the 2021 calendar. Yet to reach the podium here since the track first emerged in 2016, it will be an all out push for Honda power to add some Baku silverware to the trophy cabinet.

Welcome back, Baku!

The long run down the shoreline (the circuit's main straight) see’s F1 cars reach some of the highest speeds they will reach all year. Over the weekend, Power Unit Engineers will be working to extract every ounce of performance available, whilst Teams will be getting stuck into the data, tuning their crucial aerodynamic setups.

Although the Azerbaijan circuit is best known for its long straight and slipstreaming opportunities, its tight and twisty section through the old town is comparable with the Monaco circuit, raced previously in Round 5. Finding the perfect balance of where drivers feel they can extract the best performance from the car will be necessary for a successful weekend. 

Alex Albon Races Through The Old Town In Baku
Alex Albon Races Through The Old Town In Baku
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With little room for mistakes and a close-fought battle at the top of the Championships, it’s all eyes on Saturday afternoon as the boys will head out to decide the grid for Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix. 

Toyoharu Tanabe
Toyoharu Tanabe
Honda Racing F1
We now come to the sixth round of the season, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, an event that was cancelled last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Although the venue in Baku is a street circuit like Monaco where we won a fortnight ago with Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing, it has very different characteristics. At a little over six kilometres, it is one of the longest circuits on the calendar and while the first and second sectors are typical of many street tracks, with several similar 90 degree corners, in the final sector the cars spend a long time at full acceleration. It is therefore important to find the right balance in terms of car set-up for the low speed corners and the long straight. With the PU, having good driveability is important for the low speed corners, while energy management is a factor for the long acceleration down the straight. As usual, we will base our settings on the data we have acquired so far this season, as well as from the 2019 edition of this race.

Yuki Tsunoda
Yuki Tsunoda 22
Scuderia AlphaTauri
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!
I really enjoyed my first time in Monaco, it was a fantastic experience and really fun up until that moment in FP2. In general, after five races now, I am feeling more familiar with the race weekend, there are less surprises and I feel more in control and I’ve got used to some of the things that surprised me earlier in the year, like all the media work at races on a Thursday. It was using up a lot of my energy but now I am more comfortable with everything which is a positive thing.
The technical aspect is still quite challenging, especially as in the current situation I have been struggling a bit with the car set-up. I believe that is normal as I have only done five races, but the important thing is that I am learning a lot about the car. My mind set is fine, I’m in good shape and things are going in the right direction. There is still some pressure, but I am enjoying every minute of being a Formula 1 driver and there is always something new to deal with at every new track. In Monaco there was even the new experience of seeing fans and hearing them calling the names of the drivers, which felt really crazy.
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.
I am pleased with the definite progress made by the team with the car since the beginning of the season. It’s true the results have not come together yet and I am on a steep learning curve. I spend as much time as possible talking with my engineers to learn more and I hope that will help me continue to make progress through the season.

Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez 11
Red Bull Racing
I’m happy that in the end we managed to have a good result, especially given where we qualified after a poor Saturday. It was very tough mentally. As always, Monaco is just hard to keep the car out of the walls whilst being on the limit. Especially you need to know when to push and when not to, that is the key! The result on Sunday is a big boost for the Team and we’re definitely looking forwards to keeping it up there, but we cannot forget that it’s only race five of the season and there’s still a very long way to go. I’m really looking forward to Baku and I hope we can put a strong qualifying together because we’ve proved that our race pace is right up there with the best. We just have to improve our Saturdays and then we should be fine.

Pierre Gasly
Pierre Gasly 10
Scuderia AlphaTauri
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. 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. But I understood there was really no way for him to get by and it would all come down to the pit stop. I just had to focus, concentrate on my driving and the team also played its part with the strategy in keeping him behind. So I am satisfied, as it was important for the team to find our true performance level again and to have a clean weekend, which is complicated in Monaco as it’s a tricky circuit. But we managed it and that delivered our best result of the year so far. It was also really cool to race with fans again at the track, especially as there were many French people there as it was Monaco, so I felt more support than usual. It was a real pleasure to interact a bit with fans, even if was not yet a full-size crowd.
Since then I have spent some time in the simulator in the UK and then I headed off to Baku via Dubai. It’s a lot of travelling but it’s all for a good cause because we are heading for a very busy part of the season. 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.

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen 33
Red Bull Racing
It was a very good weekend and of course I’ve never stood on the podium there before so it was very nice to get the win. Taking the lead in the championship feels good but we need to be there at the end of the final race, that’s all that matters. Where we are now feels good and of course it shows that we had a decent start to the year but we have to keep on pushing because we still need to improve and do better. Nobody is ever perfect or standing still in this sport. So far we have made the smallest mistakes but nothing major and that is why we are first at the moment but we all know it can change very quickly. We struggled on Thursday in practice but the Team put a lot of work into making sure that the car was a lot better on Saturday. At the start of the weekend we didn’t have it quite right and it wasn’t all easy, but everyone analysed the data very well and made the car very competitive again for qualifying so we could be in the fight. It’s also very easy to make a mistake around Monaco, you have to keep focussed lap after lap, but last Sunday it felt really good to be leading the race and controlling it. I was not going to throw away my first Monaco win that’s for sure. The track is ok but probably not a favourite of mine if I’m honest. I’ve never been on the podium there so it’s time to change that. Let’s see how competitive we are, I do expect Mercedes to come back strong there though.

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