23 JUNE 2017
AZERBAIJAN GP – FRIDAY PRACTICE
First Practice session: 1:44.410, Position: 1, Laps: 19
Second Practice Session: 1:43.362, Position: 1, Laps: 36
“The whole day has been really positive, except the last lap, everything has been working well. From lap one I felt comfortable in the car, it was handling really well and I was confident with the setup. I think the preparation we did at the factory and in the simulator has allowed us to come here with a strong setup and competitive car from the go. This has definitely been the most positive Friday of the year so far. In the second session I felt I couldn’t get the maximum out of the short run pace due to yellow flags and traffic so we can be very happy to still finish P1. It feels like the cars are quicker through the corners this year, this means if you have a lock up in can be more critical. We are confident heading into Qualifying but also wary that Mercedes will turn their engines up a bit. We are on top at the end of Friday which means they have to catch up so it will be exciting in the session tomorrow. At the end I locked up at turn 1, I could see I wasn’t going to make the corner so decided to take the run off, as I turned right I lost the rear and ended up sliding into the wall.”
First Practice Session: 1:44.880 Position: 2, Laps: 22
Second Practice Session: 1:43.473, Position: 3, Laps: 34
“It’s been a good day for myself and Max and great that we were in the top three in both sessions. Even though I was second fastest this morning I wasn’t fully content with my session and I knew there was still room to improve in myself and the car. I believe we made those improvements this afternoon and I’m generally a lot happier with where we ended the day. This afternoon was a lot more entertaining, the grip was coming and you could really start to push the car. There’s not much room for error and it’s a pretty high risk circuit in terms of mistakes but that makes it really challenging and rewarding. When you are able to put in a good lap you cross the finish line and smile. Like always, we should not celebrate on a Friday but we are in the ball park, so hopefully tomorrow we can stay at the front.”
We’re back in Baku, though unlike last year it’s not a back-to-back in Baku. Yes, yes, we couldn’t resist more back in Baku gags. Anyway, as Baku is home to one of the season’s most exciting street circuits and F1’s new owners have made no secret of their desire to take F1 to ‘destination cities’, we thought it was time to offer a few slightly more left field choices, just in case they fancy journeying off the beaten grand prix path.
Six Unlikely Grand Prix Cities…
- Grand Prix of Helsinki – The World Rally Championship has a January start in the often snowy mountain roads above Monte Carlo, so why not kick off the F1 season early in Finland’s wonderful capital, with spiked tyres, sub-zero temperatures, all the Lakka you could drink and all those over-emotional locals! Also we could find out where the hell Espoo is.
- Grand Prix of Seattle – F1 wants another US race and everybody keeps talking about cities such as Las Vegas, but why not head for a calmer, more serene America – a place where things aren’t quite so…‘covfefe’. We fancy the tech hub of Seattle in the Pacific Northwest – it’s home to Amazon and Microsoft. It’s also the home of Starbucks and everyone needs a blackberry mojito tea lemonade in their life, right? Actually, this one kind of makes sense doesn’t it?
- Grand Prix of Madeira – Granted, Madeira isn’t a name that leaps to the top of anyone’s list of must-visit party islands, but bear with us on this. It’s generally warm and pleasant there, main town Funchal has a harbour full of big yachts and it seems quite popular with a moneyed set of visitors of, shall we say, a certain age – these are all things Formula One readily embraces.
- Grand Prix of Auckland – Yes, New Zealand is, like, a gazillion miles from anywhere and the locals appear to have major ‘duffeculties’ with their ‘vowils’ but they also have an awesome harbourside city in Auckland, it’s a brilliantly laid back country and they make kick-ass wine. How good would it be to back-to-back NZ with Oz? This also makes quite a lot of sense. Is anyone listening. This is a good idea. Make it happen.
- Grand Prix of Birmingham – Wait, wait… don’t laugh, the Birmingham Superprix was an actual race held on a street circuit at the heart of Britain’s second city from 1986 to 1990. The glamour of the event was signalled by a description of the circuit containing the very British words: “it starts on the A38 road, and takes in the A4540 road.” OK, it wasn’t a massively successful race, but Birmingham is a different place these days and is heading for the midway point of a massive central regeneration programme… oh, who are we kidding, it would be about as likely and popular a choice as a race in downtown Chernobyl. Still they do a good Balti, so you never know. Also, you know, (Judas) Priest, (Black) Sabbath, Slade… errr Mansell.
- Grand Prix of Mokpo – If a race in Birmingham is an impossibility, we’ve left the most unlikely of all until last. A race in a lonely port city at the remote southern tip of Korea at a track with a marina and hotels and casinos that don’t exist. Oh no… that was real wasn’t it?