08.12.22 NL Blog
Abu Dhabi GP: The story behind my weekend
After the unique challenge of Monaco, we head to another street track this weekend in Baku – but this is one that provides a very, very different challenge.
The high speeds at Baku make it a cool track to race on. The extremely long straight is the longest section of track that we’re flat out on across the entire 22-round F1 calendar. This is also the one street track that produces good, exciting racing so that’s something to look forward to.
Analysing the track lay-out itself, it’s one that has a very repetitive feel to it and you quickly find yourself settling into a rhythm. If you manage to find a set-up that’s working nicely through the corners and giving the driver confidence, it can be enjoyable and straightforward to get a good lap in quali and to have a good rhythm in the race itself.
But when it’s the other way around and if you don’t manage to find that sweet spot in the car set-up, you very quickly find yourself struggling because a lot of the corners are the same. That’s when Baku becomes a very long race!
A challenge all the drivers will have to contend with is playing with the extra weight of the current F1 cars and getting them slowed down after a lot of full pedal time. The weight and stiffness has also made these cars noticeably weaker in the slower speed corners, compared to the previous generation cars.
And I’m expecting visibility to be a little tricky because of the new aero covers on the front wheels. That was the case in Monaco on a few areas of the track and I expect the section that goes up the hill and passes by the castle to be the same in Baku. That’s also a super narrow section, so that should make the racing even more exciting.
Thinking about the weekend from my side, given the nature of the Baku track, there’s always opportunities arising in qualifying and in the race. I think that with the current package we have, we may have to rely on those opportunities and take advantage of them to get the results we want.
But Baku is a venue that I’ve always gone well at in Formula Two – winning there in 2019 and claiming another three podiums – so I’m looking forward to getting out there and working towards nailing all the things that will hopefully put us in a solid position when the competitive driving starts.
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