After an enthralling Canadian Grand Prix nearly two weeks ago, Formula One heads to Baku for the first ever Azerbaijan GP.
Thinking F1 have been to Baku before? You are correct to think that as they visited the Baku City circuit last year. The race weekend was however run under the European Grand Prix banner this time 12 months ago.
There are some interesting pointers to watch out for over the weekend, which will see no rain.
Last year, everyone expected this to be a Mercedes walkover weekend. Force India and Sergio Perez however had different plans in mind.
The Mexican was on it all weekend with a Mercedes powered engine, really forcing the two Mercs under pressure.
If he hadn’t dumped the car in barriers at end of FP3 and picked up a gearbox penalty, Perez could of been a contender for pole and the race win.
This time around, Force India are closer than ever before to the front field as demonstrated in Canada. As a result, I am expecting Perez to mix up the Ferrari vs Mercedes battle.
Esteban Ocon is in Baku for the first time but if he can match Perez, we could well have an explosive qualifying session in store come Saturday afternoon.
No matter which team you support, keep an eye out for Force India this weekend because they are the team to watch.
2. Better racing than 2016 please
One thing on every fan, driver and team’s wish list for this weekend is surely better racing than last year.
Apart from Hamilton’s engine mode issues, Vettel’s pit strategy argument and Perez producing an excellent recovery drive to third place, there was no entertainment on show.
Some might however give F1 the benefit of doubt, given that the spectacular GP2 support races raised expectations and created fear within the F1 drivers. This time however, there are NO excuses for another poor racing that has little overtaking, even if F2 (replaced GP2 name) delivers two thrilling races.
If want to read about those GP2 races, please click on this link; https://jamestgregoryblog.wordpress.com/2016/12/25/top-sporting-moment-of-2016/
3. Mixed tyre strategy
Pirelli have again brought the medium, soft and super soft tyres to Baku, like they did last year.
Most teams are taking one set of mediums, four sets of softs and eight super softs except for Red Bull. The Austrian outfit are taking one less set of softs but two medium tyres.
Williams have however split strategy between their drivers with Felipe Massa following Red Bull’s approach. Lance Stroll is on same tyre plan that most teams are on so expect variation in the Grove based team.
Sauber have too followed the alternative strategy with Marcus Ericsson taking the Red Bull path. Pascal Wehrlein has however gone for opposite end of the alternative approach with one set of mediums, three sets of softs and nine super soft tyres.
If missed other races and want a brief round up, click on the links below.