AMF1 Team secured 22 points around the streets of Baku in Azerbaijan in the first Sprint race weekend of the 2023 season, with Lance and Fernando both fighting up the order in the races.
Need to Know: Azerbaijan
"It's been good to have a short break after a busy few races, but nothing compares to racing and, given the strong start to the season, I can't wait to get back out there.
"Baku is a venue that holds great memories for me – taking my first podium in Formula One back in 2017 – and we enter this weekend hoping to continue our early-season form. In general, it is a wild ride, a really fun track.
"We also will have the first Sprint of the year this weekend and with another new format, which I think will be great for the fans. We need to hit the ground running as there will be little time to prepare for qualifying and the races, but the team have done a fantastic job this year so I know we're up for the challenge."
"It's good to be back after a few weeks away from racing. I have recharged the batteries after a high adrenaline start to the season, and I am now looking forward to Baku.
"The circuit presents us drivers with a unique challenge, as we face lots of tight slow-speed street sections and then extremely high-speed straights that create lots of opportunities for risk and reward.
"I'm excited to see the return of the Sprint this weekend too. We've seen some fun races in the past there and I'm sure it'll be no different, especially now with two qualifying sessions and two races. After three races we know our car better, but we need to pick-up where we left off in Australia and keep up the development push over the next few races."
Insight and Speed
Expect some form of stoppage in the race. In the six races held, there have been seven Safety Cars, two red flags and three Virtual Safety Cars. Strategy can be influenced by the timing of these. The softest compound of Pirelli's range, the C5, will make its 2023 debut here.
The first of six Sprint events this season. The format has altered somewhat, with the grid for both races being determined by separate qualifying sessions. Baku has never hosted a Sprint before. New for 2023, DRS will now be activated after one lap of green flag running in the Sprint.
It is relatively easy here, with the DRS effect particularly powerful at this circuit. The runs to Turns One and Three are both preceded by lengthy DRS zones. Expect many passes to be made at these locations, but unconventional moves can also be performed at some of the tightest corners on the circuit.
Unlocking the Lap
The first section comprises several 90-degree corners, but the most crucial of these is Turn Two. It precedes a long straight, so getting the exit spot on is critical to lap time. As with all these turns, the walls are ready to punish anybody who gets them wrong.
Turns Eight through 11 make up the famous Castle section. An aggressive entry to one of the tightest sections in Formula One is crucial to a good lap, before the climb up the hill and into the tricky, cambered T11, which sets up the fast sweepers that follow.
Turn 16 is another 90-degree left-hander and, while the wall on the exit is set back from the track, there is a large kerb which can destabilise the car and catch drivers out. The corner precedes one of the longest full-throttle sections on the calendar and large amounts of time can be lost here.
NetApp is our global hybrid cloud storage partner, with solutions that perform across a diverse environment allowing us to gain insights on weather-related data as well as telemetry data. Together, we explore how weather can affect track conditions this weekend.
While Azerbaijan is historically referred to as the 'Land of Fire', Baku itself is unofficially the 'City of Winds'. Rain has never affected proceedings at Baku City Circuit, but the wind certainly has.
Large buildings surround the circuit, and trees can deposit leaves or even branches onto the track when the wind picks up. A large gust can unsettle a car – which makes this circuit with walls waiting at every corner all the more challenging. Wind speed and direction can also drastically affect the DRS effect and braking distances into Turns One and Three.
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How do Safety Cars and red flags affect strategy?
Unpredictable elements, such as Safety Cars, red flags and Virtual Safety Cars, can make a Grand Prix more exciting but strategy calls for the teams far more challenging.
If those on the pitwall can react to an incident quickly, they can anticipate a Safety Car, a Virtual Safety Car or, if the incident is serious or a barrier is damaged, a red flag. Teams will prepare for each of these scenarios. They will monitor gaps between their cars and those immediately around them to decide on a course of action based on a 'window', considering the pit time loss while cars are travelling at slower speeds.
If there is a sufficient gap to the car behind, or it is around the time of a scheduled pitstop, a team is more likely to opt to pit, minimising the loss of track position. If a red flag is anticipated, leaving the car out is the better option as drivers can change tyres during a race stoppage.
The ease of overtaking at a circuit and the offset between tyre compounds are also factored into these decisions, as teams must consider whether to prioritise track position or tyre life.
In Formula One, you're constantly learning. Every lap, every mile, every second, is an opportunity to further your understanding and, ultimately, discover ways to unlock performance. In partnership with XP Inc., here are some of the key points heading into the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
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