On paper, Baku suits Hamil­ton

While mo­men­tum is with the Brit, it was Se­bas­tian Vet­tel who fin­ished higher in their con­test in Baku last year

CityPress - - Sport - MICHELLE FOSTER sports@city­press.co.za PTS

Arace with­out a de­fend­ing cham­pion on the grid, a city lack­ing in mo­tor rac­ing pedi­gree and a lay­out that fails to in­spire. This sea­son, For­mula 1 heads to the Azer­bai­jan cap­i­tal of Baku for the Euro­pean Grand Prix, hop­ing for an im­proved race – but not hon­estly ex­pect­ing much.

The Baku street cir­cuit is a mix of old and new. An­cient walls line parts of the route, and while the track closes to just 7.6m at its nar­row­est point, un­for­giv­ing of even the smallest mis­take, huge run-off in other ar­eas means er­rors are ab­solved.

Hit­ting speeds of 370km/h down the boule­vards, run­ning flat out for 65% of the lap, but slow­ing to 80km/h for the cor­ners, Baku is hard on en­gines and even harder on the brakes.

It is a race, at least on paper, that suits the Mercedes W08 and Lewis Hamil­ton.

Ar­riv­ing in Azer­bai­jan af­ter a phe­nom­e­nal weekend in Mon­treal, in which he closed the gap be­tween himelf and Se­bas­tian Vet­tel to 12 points in the race for the world ti­tle, Hamil­ton will be look­ing to ban­ish last year’s Baku demons.

A crash in Q3 and an en­gine is­sue through­out the 51lap race meant the Brit was not able to re­cover.

He fin­ished fifth, while Nico Ros­berg romped to vic­tory with an­other 25 points in a cam­paign that would ul­ti­mately see the German win the world ti­tle.

This sea­son, Hamil­ton is up against an­other German in Vet­tel and it is prov­ing to be just as closely con­tested, but with­out the mind games and bick­er­ing.

While mo­men­tum af­ter Canada is with Hamil­ton, Vet­tel can draw some so­lace from his run­ner-up re­sult dur­ing his pre­vi­ous race in Baku, a re­sult that was achieved in an un­der-per­form­ing Fer­rari – and this DRIV­ERS Se­bas­tian Vet­tel

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CON­STRUC­TORS

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10 Lewis Hamil­ton

Valt­teri Bot­tas Kimi Räikkö­nen Daniel Ric­cia­rdo Max Ver­stap­pen Ser­gio Perez Este­ban Ocon Carlos Sainz Jr Felipe Massa

Mercedes

Fer­rari Red Bzll-Tag Hezer Force In­dia-Mercedes Toro Rosso-Fer­rari Wil­liams-Mercedes Re­na­zlt Haas-Fer­rari Sazber-Fer­rari McLaren-Honda GER GBR FIN FIN AUS NED MEX FRA ESP BRA FR MC MC FR RB RB FI FI TR WL MC FR RB FI TR WL RN HA SB ML PTS

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Venre: Bakw, Azer­bai­jan First Grana Prix: 2016 Nr­mVer of laps: 51 Cir­crit length: Race ais­tance:

6.008km 306.049km

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