2016 Formula 1 Grand Prix of Europe, Azerbaijan
Baku City Circuit
We’ve hotfooted our way from Montréal to Azerbaijan, where the breathtakingly beautiful capital city of Baku is hosting its first ever Grand Prix this weekend.
We do like to be beside the seaside, so we’re pleasantly surprised by – if not a little besotted with – Baku’s truly original blend of ‘old world charm meets Caspian Seafront meets contemporary city skyline’. And we can’t wait to get our first taste of this spectacular new street circuit, set to be one of the fastest on the calendar.
Here’s what Pascal, Rio and our Racing Director Dave Ryan have to say about Round 8 of the Formula 1 World Championship, the Grand Prix of Europe.
Rio, what are your first impressions of Baku?
“It’s 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.”
What are the standout attractions for you?
“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.”
Pascal, a third of the way through your first season. How has that gone for you?
“I’m really enjoying my first season and the races are just flying by now. It’s had its ups and downs but I’ve learned a lot about how to handle that. Plus, we’re learning together as a team. Generally, I’m pretty happy with my performances so far, but with every circuit being new for me, I’ll be learning all the way through the season.”
What are you expecting from this weekend in Baku?
“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 Montréal but we missed some opportunities there, so I hope we can show more of our improvement here versus Sauber in particular.”
Dave, Formula 1 teams are no strangers to back-to-back races but this one is quite the logistical exercise. How have you found it so far?
“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 Montréal, 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.”