This weekend the Formula One circus heads to Baku for the European Grand Prix. Nico Rosberg leads the way, but the gap has been reduced to 9 points after back-to-back wins from Lewis Hamilton.
The engineering department already have an uphill task with car set-ups this weekend, as each team goes into the weekend relatively blind. There’s no data from previous years to fall back on, the set-up of each car will be starting from scratch. So expect very busy practice sessions before qualifying. It’s also doubtful that any driver or team will be holding back in Practice, so it might be clear early on which team has found a decent set-up.
On top of the obvious set-up issues when arriving at a new F1 circuit, the nature of the Baku street circuit is providing even more complication. Williams Performance Chief Rob Smedley told AutoSport that, “
“It’s going to be quite a challenge for the engineering teams because you’ve got this requirement for huge straightline speed, [but] it’s also a very low efficiency circuit. It almost goes into this Monaco-style street circuit in places. It looks like it goes into some reasonably sweeping, quite quick right handers or medium speed right handers. So there’s going to be some real challenges there.”
Another feature of the circuit is a straight that is more than two times longer than the prominent straight in Canada, leaving teams with the issue of finding the right balance between straight-line speed at the cost of cornering grip for the tight part of the track. This Grand Prix is set to be a lottery, which makes the race on Sunday a mouth-watering prospect.