After the thrills of Bahrain and China back to back, Formula One heads to the streets of Baku, Azerbaijan for the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
In the only two previous races in this city, we have gone from a dull processional race on debut to a chaotic drama filled race that we saw last year so expect unpredictability.
Those races however were held in June so this time, we could very well see things get more interesting this year.
Get clued up on what to expect and watch out for with our track guide and list of things to watch out for over the course of the weekend.
Circuit: Baku City Circuit
Number of laps: 51
Race Distance: 306.049km
Things to watch out for
Will Red Bull push on?
After winning in China, Red Bull will be keen to push on now and start maximising their car’s potential.
In the opening three races, we have seen the car perform solidly in races and were able to take advantage of the safety car timing to make a double two stopper work.
Their one lap pace has however been costing them a real shot at mixing it at the front right from start of races, which might be an issue again here.
Baku tends to favour cars that are super quick with its many long straights, which is something that Red Bull unfortunately lack with their Renault power.
Max Verstappen confirmed that fact in Red Bull’s race preview, saying; “it isn’t ideally suited to our car.
The straight is so long which means we miss out on some valuable time there.”
As a result, expect Red Bull to try and execute another masterclass in race strategy otherwise expect Spain to be their big chance to improve on single lap pace.
Can Force India continue their strong Baku form?
Force India seem to love Baku, after producing some quality performances, particularly on one lap pace during their two previous trips.
This year however could be quite challenging with the pecking order much closer but 2016 podium finisher here, Sergio Perez is confident of a result this weekend.
Speaking in Force India’s preview, Perez said; “It’s a track where we have always been competitive so I want to go there this year and score points.”
The team will also be bringing more upgrades as they continue to try and unlock performance in the car.
Commenting on the team’s progress in opening three rounds, Esteban Ocon was happy with how the season has gone so far with new updates being brought to every race, saying; “The car is improving with each race and I can see how hard everybody is working to find more performance.
At every race this year, we’ve had new items to test and it’s the same this weekend.
It’s still early days in the season and if we can unlock the potential in the car I think we can be up there fighting consistently at the front of the midfield.”
With their previous form around here and this year’s car issues, Force India definitely will be a fascinating team to watch out for over course of this weekend.
Varied tyre strategy
Pirelli’s aggressive tyre choice has divided teams with several putting their drivers on slightly different strategies.
Only Force India. Haas F1, McLaren, Red Bull, Renault and Toro Rosso have put their drivers on sae tyre strategy in terms of selection per compound.
As for title rivals, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, they have both gone for quite different tyre selections.
Hamilton has taken two sets each of softs and super softs alongside nine ultra softs whilst Vettel has opted for one less soft compound but taken one extra set of the ultra softs.
That suggests that Ferrari believes that the softs won’t be needed despite lower temperatures compared to past.
Therefore expect a potentially shaken up race result with Haas and McLaren the most affected if the softs do end up becoming a factor.
Could Formula Two again outclass F1 on streets of Azerbaijan?
Whilst F1 has seen two contrasting races, support series – Formula Two (known as GP2 in 2016) has produced absolute thrillers in two previous visits to these streets of Azerbaijan.
The notable highlight was 2016 GP2 Feature Race when just 10 cars finished on lead lap after several crashes and safety car periods.
That year’s Sprint Race also had plenty of drama, with Nobuharu Matsushita getting a race ban after dangerous incidents like the one in video below.
In fact, F/GP2 have gone to time in both feature races so look set to produce another classic weekend of old fashioned racing.
F1 meanwhile are yet to have a timed race here, having managed to reach full race distance on both occasions.
That therefore makes this race something of a mystery for F1 to look forward to, especially when factor in the change of month rendering previous data pretty useless.
Want a recap of previous races so far? Click on the links below to go and catch up on all the action.