Round eight of the 2022 Formula 1 World Championship is on this weekend, and teams are in the city of Baku, home of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
The race is held on the Baku City Circuit, a Hermann Tilke-designed street circuit that stretches 3.73 miles and features the key characteristics of a long 1.3-mile straight and a long pit lining the edge of the Caspian Sea, coupled with some tight corners in the historic part of the city.
In this way, the circuit can be described as a mix of Monaco and Monza, because the section of track in the old town’s narrow maze of streets is similar to the Principality, while the long straights and heavy braking zones are not unlike what you find at the Temple of Speed in Monza’s Royal Park.
Setting up the car for Baku is a tricky task due to this mix of tight corners and long straights with heavy braking zones. Teams like to dial in as much downforce as possible for the many slow corners while at the same time achieving a minimal amount of drag down the long straights. This calls for a compromise in the setup, similar to Belgium's Spa-Francorchamps, where reducing drag without losing too much downforce is a key consideration.
Baku City Circuit, home of the Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
The track surface is relatively smooth, and some sections of it are renewed annually to completely cover the old town’s cobblestones. Getting tires up to temperature can be tough due to the very low average steer angle, which results in very little energy being put into the tires. Teams have to rely more on the heat from braking to keep tires warm since not as much energy is generated in the corners as at other circuits.
Pirelli has nominated its three softest compounds for the weekend: the C3 as the White hard, C4 as the Yellow medium, and C5 as the Red soft. This was the same nomination as last year, although the compounds are new for the 2022 season.
We should be in for a dry weekend as the weather forecast calls for sunny but mild conditions during both Saturday's qualifying session and Sunday's race.
Going into the weekend, Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen leads the 2022 Drivers' Championship with 125 points. Ferrari's Charles Leclerc is second with 116 points and Red Bull's Sergio Perez is third with 110 points. In the Constructors' Championship, Red Bull leads with 235 points, versus the 199 of Ferrari and 134 of Mercedes-Benz AMG. Last year's winner in Azerbaijan was Perez, driving for Red Bull.