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
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
10 Lewis Hamilton
Valtteri Bottas Kimi Räikkönen Daniel Ricciardo Max Verstappen Sergio Perez Esteban Ocon Carlos Sainz Jr Felipe Massa
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
141 129 222
Venre: Bakw, Azerbaijan First Grana Prix: 2016 NrmVer of laps: 51 Circrit length: Race aistance:
93 73 67