Baku is the latest destination to be added to the Formula One and GP2 calendars in 2016 and the 3.7-mile street circuit that takes in parts of the medieval city, a contemporary skyline and views across the Caspian Sea, will present a new challenge for all of the teams and drivers in the paddock.
For DAMS Racing driver, Nicholas, this weekend is a great opportunity to build on his eighth place in the GP2 drivers’ championship and to try and re-establish some momentum after a frustrating couple of races in Monaco last month.
“My initial impressions of the track from my simulator work at the DAMS factory is that it’s a very fast circuit in terms of the average speed and the characteristics are most similar to Macau – except it’s a track designed for F1 and GP2 cars,” he says. “It’s the first year that anyone will have raced there and that’s something that I’m really excited about.
“Historically, getting results in GP2 has often come down to how much experience you have. If you have raced on a certain track before, you generally know what to expect. But Baku is a clean slate for everyone and I like that. This is my first full season in the championship and I’m expecting everything to be equal this weekend.”
Twenty-year-old Nicholas – who is proudly supported by Royal Bank of Canada, Lavazza and Sofina in 2016 – is a big fan of street circuits and he believes the layout of the Baku track should make for an exciting spectacle when the GP2 field does battle in two separate races; the first feature race on Saturday and a second shorter race on Sunday.
“The track looks a lot of fun,” he says. “The first half of the lap has a lot of 90-degree corners and long straights and then it gets narrow and tight up the hill and around the medieval tower. Overtaking can be a problem on a lot of street circuits but that shouldn’t be a problem in Baku. The straights are really wide and long.
“I’m generally quite good at adapting to new tracks so I’m looking forward to continuing my learning in Baku. I think I showed in Monaco that we can have decent pace on a street circuit in practice and qualifying, so I don’t see any reason why we can’t repeat that level of performance this weekend.”