For the first time, the three softest tires in the Pirelli Formula 1 range were nominated for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix: The mixture C3 for the P Zero White (hard), C4 for the P Zero Yellow (medium) and C5 for the P Zero Red (soft) . It is noteworthy that this combination is one step softer than at the last Grand Prix in Baku in 2019. In addition, this nomination corresponds to that for the previous race weekend in Monaco.
The nomination is intended to introduce an additional strategic element: in 2019, the hard mix was not used during the Baku race. Driving a notch softer this time brings the tough mix into play and encourages more variety in strategies.
In terms of the roughness of the asphalt, the surface of the Baku street circuit is one of the less aggressive. It doesn’t take a lot of energy from the tires, so the softest compounds in the range are an optimal choice.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE TRACK
In the past, drivers described Baku as a route that combines the complexity of Monaco with the speed of Monza. This is not exactly true, but from the driver’s point of view gives a good insight into the nature of the fastest and longest street circuit on the calendar.
Irrespective of this, Baku has all the characteristics one would expect from a street circuit: a “green” and slippery surface that is likely to develop quickly. This is mainly due to the fact that it has not been used for racing in two years. The obstacles are unyielding and at one point (turn 9) it is also extremely narrow: All of this increases the likelihood of a safety car being used, which of course has an effect on the racing strategy.
In the last race, a one-stop strategy (soft-medium) that was used by the first four drivers was successful. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), on the other hand, finished fifth by doing the opposite: he switched from medium to soft and stopped a second time for softs to set the fastest lap. There was a fairly wide pit stop window, especially with some long stints on the medium C3 tire (now the tough mix for this year’s race).
Baku is nicknamed “City of the Winds” because of the frequent and changeable winds. Of course, this affects the aerodynamic balance of a track, which is already difficult in terms of setup.
Because of the long straights in Baku, the teams tend to drive with little downforce. In the 20 demanding corners of a lap, the focus is clearly on the mechanical grip of the tires.
FORMULA 2: WHAT TO EXPECT
Formula 2 is returning to Baku for its third round this season. For the first time, 18-inch tires will be used on the route. As in 2019, the tire compounds P Zero Yellow (Medium) and P Zero Purple (Supersoft) were selected. This makes for a pretty big difference in performance between the two mixes and thereby expands the strategic variables. It will be the first time this season that the medium mixture will be used in Formula 2, while the teams were able to gain experience with the Supersoft in Monaco. The medium mix was redesigned this year to improve graining resistance. In addition, the difference in performance compared to Supersoft has increased slightly.
MARIO ISOLA – HEAD OF F1 AND CAR RACING
“From one unique track to another, Baku offers a very different test than Monaco. But the precision needed to avoid getting into trouble is similar. For the first time, we are bringing the softest mix of the range to Azerbaijan like was also the case in Monte Carlo. The reason for this nomination: In 2019 the hard tire was not used at all at the Baku race, while the medium tire was used extensively. By realigning the nominations, we hope that now all three compounds play an important role and this leads to some different strategies. In Formula 2 there is a leap between the nominated compounds, as there was in the season opener in Bahrain, which increases the difference between the tires and again leads to some fun races and tactics on a challenging route known for being a place where anything can happen. “