Last year’s Baku Grand Prix was a fiery battle both on and off the track. The question is how will this year’s cars cope with the dramas of this inner city circuit?
Pirelli bring the Soft, Supersofts and Ultrasofts to the Baku Grand Prix this year which is one step softer then last year. With the 2018 compounds in general a step softer than 2017, this means that the tyres for the Baku Grand Prix are effectively two steps softer.
The Baku Grand Prix is two months earlier this year, so it will be interesting to see how these softer compounds deal with the cooler conditions, which will be emphasised by the 4pm local race start time where track temperatures will continue to cool throughout the duration of the race.
Track temperature will be a continuous talking point throughout the weekend as the nature of this city circuit results in a variety of changing shadows cast over the track from the surrounding tall buildings. You may not think this has much effect on tyre temperatures, however with such soft compounds this may well be a problem, particularly for teams who struggle to get temperature into their tyres.
The 2Km long main straight will contribute to the cooling of the tyres, so expect lock ups during the braking area into Turn 1.
It’s not only about getting temperature into the tyres in the first place, but also at the same time. Last year, teams struggled to warm both the front and rear tyres together and this imbalance can lead to a lack of grip at one of the axles; increasing oversteer or understeer.
‘The Baku Grand Prix should have quite a different look to it this time, being held two months earlier and presumably presenting a contrast to last year in terms of weather conditions, when track temperatures peaked at more than 50 degrees centigrade,’ highlights Mario Isola, Head of Car Racing at Pirelli. ‘Last year, we felt that we were a little too conservative with the tyre nomination in Azerbaijan, in the first year of the new tyre regulations, as the medium wasn’t really used. So, we felt that this year we had scope to be a little more aggressive with the nominations. This should lead to all three compounds being used as realistic race options, and some inventive race strategies, as we saw at the last two grands prix in Bahrain and China.’
Overall, the layout of the Baku Grand Prix results in a medium demand on the brakes, with the four 90° corners at the start of the lap demanding high brake performance.
The brakes are used for a total of 17 seconds throughout the lap, with the average peak deceleration only reaching 4.2G which is much less than the majority of the other circuits.
This leads to a lower energy dissipation of 181kWh from the brakes over the course of the Baku Grand Prix, which is the same amount of electricity consumed by 370 Azeri inhabitants during the race.
Each driver will apply a load of almost 71 tonnes on the brake pedal, which is similar to 100 times the weight of the SPOT7 satellite managed by the Azerbaijan National Aerospace Agency.
The most challenging corner for the brakes is Turn 3, where the cars arrive at 315km/h and decelerate to 99km/h in just 2.03s over a distance of 56m.