Con­sis­tency

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

BAKU: For­mula One cham­pi­onships are won through con­sis­tency and both Fer­rari driver Sebastian Vet­tel and Lewis Hamil­ton of Mercedes are look­ing for that key in­gre­di­ent go­ing into the Azer­bai­jan Grand Prix on Sun­day.

The 6,003m street course through the Azer­bai­jan cap­i­tal of Baku, pro­vides the next chance for Hamil­ton – win­ner in Canada two weeks ago – to se­cure back-to-back vic­to­ries for the first time this sea­son.

Hamil­ton and Vet­tel have each won three times in seven races, with the odd one out go­ing to Valt­teri Bot­tas in the other Mercedes, but have also thrown in dis­ap­point­ing re­sults.

Hamil­ton missed the podium by fin­ish­ing fourth in Rus­sia and a dis­mal sev­enth in Monaco, while cham­pi­onship leader Vet­tel had to dart through the field in Mon­treal to res­cue fourth – and keep Hamil­ton at a man­age­able 12-point dis­tance in the stand­ings.

“Back and forth, I hope in Baku it is forth again – or back, de­pend­ing on the view,” Vet­tel joked.

Mercedes, who dom­i­nated the hy­brid era since 2014, have strug­gled more than Fer­rari to get the car set up op­ti­mally for both driv­ers over com­plete week­ends so far.

But Hamil­ton, buoyed by his suc­cess in Canada, hopes a cor­ner has now been turned.

“If we ac­quire the same dili­gence that we did in the past two weeks af­ter ev­ery sin­gle race, even when we win, I’m pretty sure that we can con­tinue to fight, and maybe not make the roller-coaster ride so up and down,” he said.

“The team­work, the en­gi­neer­ing, was so much bet­ter,” he added. “We re­ally un­der­stood where we went wrong, we re­ally un­der­stood where the car was wrong, why we couldn’t ac­ti­vate the tyres.”

In the only pre­vi­ous visit to the streets of Baku, Hamil­ton had a dis­as­trous week­end to fin­ish fifth while Vet­tel cap­i­tal­ized to take a cred­i­ble sec­ond be­hind last sea­son’s even­tual world cham­pion Nico Ros­berg.

This time Vet­tel ad­mits “the con­di­tions are a bit dif­fer­ent” and he is tar­get­ing the win even if the cir­cuit should – with the long­est full throt­tle stretch of the sea­son – slightly favour Mercedes.

A lengthy 2.1km burst with the foot to the floor is likely to give Hamil­ton and Bot­tas an edge over Vet­tel and Kimi Raikko­nen, es­pe­cially in the qual­i­fy­ing shoot-out to de­cide grid places.

That is likely to prove cru­cial with over­tak­ing, through the tight cor­ners of Baku’s old town, ex­pected to be dif­fi­cult.

But it also means that if Mercedes do not get ev­ery­thing right in the set up they will have few op­por­tu­ni­ties to re­gain lost ground.

“In terms of the car, we’ve joked about it be­ing a bit of a diva,” motorsport chief Toto Wolff said. – dpa

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