|Circuit||Baku City Circuit|
|Distance||306,049 km / 190,211 miles|
Maurizio Arrivabene: ”If we look at where we were on Friday, we can be happy with the step forward that has been made during the weekend. Today our race pace was good, albeit not quite as good as it should be. We saw a very good performance by both our drivers, so as our President says, we must work hard to provide them with a better car. As we had seen already in Canada, the engine seems to be our strength, while we still need to work on the other areas, because this car has proven to be very sensitive to set-up changes. I have no complaints for Kimi’s penalty: he was racing hard and overtook a lot of cars. When he realized he was being penalized, he then proved to be a very good team-mate to Seb. The gap to our main competitors is still there so we have to work hard to improve in the areas where we are still weak and keep focusing on this year, because there’s still a long way to go to the end of the season. Congratulations to Seb for a second place which, once again, shows what a talented driver he is.”
Kimi Raikkonen: ”Overall I’m a bit disappointed of how difficult this weekend was, far from being fun all the time, but in the race the car was good and the speed was there. At one point I ran over the white line and got a 5 seconds penalty. From that moment I tried to keep the gap to Perez to maintain my position, but on a couple of occasions I ended up following two lapped cars and lost precious time. I’m fine with the fact of swapping position with Sebastian, because anyway I had the penalty, but in the moment I let him pass I lost 2.5 seconds in that lap and this did not help.In the end I could have for sure stayed in front of Perez but there was no reason to fight and maybe take some risks. Obviously my race could have been a different story today, but considering all that happened, the end the result is not too bad.”
Sebastian Vettel: ”We can be very proud of what we achieved today, both cars got points. We were very bad off and slow on Friday and initially we didn’t know why. We changed a lot in the car, made big steps forward, and we finished second today. I think the way things went on the track was fantastic, but we can’t be entirely happy. We lost a position with Kimi but he played nice team work, he was very kind to hand me the place. In the end it was a bit of a shame that we didn’t manage to finish second and third, but I think he was struggling quite a bit with his tires. It was not a fresh set. I had a good feeling with the tires, so I kept the first set a bit longer, even if after a couple of laps I wasn’t so confident. But later the tires did recover and from that point it was good again. The season is long and I think there’s a lot of stuff happening here, but especially back in Maranello. Our President is pushing very hard, but in a good way. He is willing to understand, help us and to push us, as well. Ambition is high but, moving forward step by step, I am sure we will do the right things for this year and for the future to make sure we give the others a very hard time. We didn’t have a wonderful start of the season, even though the car has been good, but I think most of the times we didn’t fully use our opportunities. However, today we did a great job. We will keep doing the optimum and keep enhancing our chances to be there at the end of the year, but surely we know we have to pick up our game and improve the car.”
Sebastian second, Kimi fourth
Baku, 19 June – Sebastian Vettel finished today’s European Grand Prix, the first ever race in Baku, Azerbaijan in the runner-up slot. Having dropped back from third at the start, he moved back up to second place, which he then maintained to the chequered flag. Kimi drove a determined and well-managed race to come home fourth. Nico Rosberg won for Mercedes.
Kimi Raikkonen: “It hasn’t been an easy weekend, but today in qualifying we managed to make the car nicely balanced, the feeling was good and obviously it was a lot faster than earlier this weekend. I felt I could drive it as I wanted and it was a good feeling. In my last run in Q3 I had fitted a new set of Supersoft tires, but then the red flag came out and I was not able to improve my lap time. After that, with only 2 minutes in the session, everybody tried to rush out and do a last lap, but there was traffic in the out lap and the timing was very tight. I’m sure that if we could have run smoothly it could have been better, but if you look at how tricky the weekend was so far, we can happily take this result. Obviously we are not here to finish fifth and today I felt there was more to come from the car. In many ways it will be a long and tricky race for everybody, we just need to do our best, make the right choices and see what will happen.”
Sebastian Vettel: “Yesterday we weren’t very strong. However, we came back today, although not yet where we want to be. We also benefitted from the penalty of Perez. Now we have to focus on a good start. I think tomorrow anything can happen for anyone. It will be a long race with a lot of laps. If I started fourth tomorrow I would be more angry. So, I think it is fine this way and that we started on the clean side. I think it’s likely to make quite a big difference on a new track. Maybe I am wrong, but usually we have good starts. I’ve had a good feeling already this weekend, so we’ll see. It’s going to be a long race. We have to stay focused all through the race, it will be tough. I think it is possible to overtake, there is a very long straight. We will see tomorrow how much easy or difficult it will be, but in general I think it is possible. I am always nervous before any race, which is good because it means that I care. It has been a very tough weekend trying to find the rhythm. I believe it is easy to make mistakes. This track is surprisingly bumpy and it is not easy to find the right time and to manage hard brakings and high speed. We are happy but not entirely because the gap with Mercedes is very big, but it will be a long race with plenty of opportunities, I guess. After the weekend we will try to understand where we were losing time, but for the moment let’s focus on the race, because we have all the chances to do a good job.”
Sebastian to start third ahead of Kimi
Baku, 18 June – At the end of today’s qualifying on the brand new Baku street circuit, Sebastian Vettel was fourth fastest in a time of 1.43.966. The German finished ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, fifth in in 1.44.269. Sergio Perez, who was second fastest this evening (1.43.515) has a 5 place penalty for making a gearbox change, which means both Vettel and Raikkonen move up one place on the start grid. Nico Rosberg took pole for Mercedes in 1.42.758.
The track changes and so does set-up on the Ferraris
Baku, 18 June – The Ferraris were fifth and tenth in the third free practice session for the European Grand Prix in Baku, an event revived after an absence of three years. Following yesterday’s problems, the pit lane entrance has been modified, as have turns 6 and 12, with the kerbs replaced with painted stripes. Sebastian Vettel posted a 1.45.630 to be the highest placed SF16-H on the time sheet. He did an out lap on Medium tyres and then tried the Softs and Supersofts. Kimi Raikkonen did the same on his way to tenth with a 1.46.024. Both drivers concentrated on evaluating set-up changes aimed at solving yesterday’s difficulty in getting the front tyres up to temperature. Raikkonen had to spend a short time in the garage while an ignition problem was solved. Lewis Hamilton was once again fastest for Mercedes with a lap in 1.44.352.
Kimi Raikkonen: ”The circuit layout is pretty ok, it’s different and fun to drive. Being a new track it was quite slippery to start with, but this is normal. The balance of the car was not too bad but the main issue today was to make the tires work, the challenge was to switch them on for one lap. With more laps it seems to get better and better, but to make a lap time was not easy. I don’t know what was the issue at the end of the session, for sure something happened, the car stopped but we still don’t know why. Once we’ll get the car back we’ll be able to understand. In the evening we’ll have to go through what we have done today and see what we can improve for tomorrow.”
Sebastian Vettel: ”In the end I don’t think we had a bad day. Obviously, it is not great that Kimi could not finish the session, but after all we did many laps. I got to know the track. It is quite interesting, and that was the main objective today. The car felt good, what is missing is some speed, but I am sure we can improve. We look at what we have done. The track is very difficult, you have quite a long straight leading into hard brakings. At the beginning to find the reference is quite tricky. Your own orientation is not enough and all the trees look the same. After a while you find the rhythm, you know the bumps and then it becomes a bit better. But at the beginning it took some time. Plus it was quite slippery to start, so it was definitely more fun this afternoon. However, it seems a nice track, quite challenging, especially the high speed sections. For us everything felt ok. We are too far away and this is our problem, we are not quick enough. I am sure we will find something for tomorrow. I am confident because I believe in the team, in the car and sometimes also believe in myself!”
Both SF16-Hs struggle as temperatures drop too low
Baku, 17 June – In the second free practice session for the European Grand Prix, the Ferraris finished 8th and 13th on the Baku street circuit. Track conditions had changed considerably since the first session, with cloud cover leading to much cooler temperatures. Working on acquiring data relating to tyre behaviour, Sebastian Vettel – eighth in 1.46.219 – ended the day on a set of used yellow Soft tyres, while team-mate Kimi Raikkonen – thirteenth in 1.46.694 – chose to continue with the red Supersofts. The tyres, particularly the fronts, were not at their best in terms of temperature. A suspected technical problem meant the Finn had to park his SF16-H at the exit to turn 5. Fastest was Lewis Hamilton again, who lapped in 1.44.223 in the Mercedes.
Seb and Kimi discover the Baku circuit, in between several stoppages
Baku, 17 June – Time to move on from looking at the track on paper or in the simulator and take to the real streets of Baku. The first free practice session signaled the start of the new European Grand Prix in Azerbaijan, the eighth round of the championship. The very smooth and still dusty track surface meant the slightest step out of line was penalized. Sebastian Vettel was fifth in 1.48.627, while Kimi Raikkonen was twelfth in 1.49.635, in a session spent working on aero testing, while mainly allowing the drivers to get to know the new track. A red flag, following a crash for Ricciardo and plenty of yellow ones, meant the work was regularly interrupted, as could be expected. Quickest was Lewis Hamilton (1.46.435) in his Mercedes.
Kimi looks forward to doing ‘a better job’ in Baku
“I arrived in Baku last night, so I just saw the hotel and the circuit. The boxes here are big and nice. It is something different and new. But we’ll see what it looks like when we drive around tomorrow. It is interesting, slightly different and a challenge. The simulator, where we ran this circuit, is useful to prepare for a new track. The more laps you do, the more you get used, even if it’s not the same as when you drive on the track. We’ll try tomorrow and see what it is like. I think we need to do a better job. We need to make sure that we get the car where we want it to be, that the tires are the way we want and then I am sure it will be ok. We struggled a bit during the last two races. It was not easy, but this is a new weekend and a new place, so we’ll make sure to be where we want and make our weekend a little bit easier. This is a new circuit, so it’s a bit tricky, but this is the same for everybody. We have a good package and we just have to make it work as we want to. This is a narrow place, but I don’t think it will change anything in getting a clear lap. This is what a long circuit is for: it all helps to have more space. But, of course, it won’t be that easy. We’ll see how it is tomorrow. I think there’s a good grip, contrary to some other places, like for example in Malaysia.”
Seb looks forward to discovering new track
“It looks spectacular around here, the circuit seems nice, especially the bit around the old town in the back, with a lot of uphill downhill sections, which you appreciate more when you see them from real than you probably feel by watching TV. It should be exciting, really interesting, getting into the car tomorrow and see how it feels. It’s a completely new place, it would be a bit foolish to have any expectations. There is a lot of talk about the long straight, but it would also be worth mentioning that here the weather will be hot, which is really different from the races we had so far because it has always been colder than we expected. So here we’ll see how the tires work, and things like that I think: there is a lot of homework to be done tomorrow, for sure it’s more important to do it here because we have no experience from previous years. Of course we expect to be strong but we have to wait and see. Generally we found out that our car is working everywhere, but we need to make sure that we unleash the pace in all sessions, in particular on Saturday, to make sure that we get where we deserve to be in qualifying. It’s a long race here , it’s the first race ever, there will be a lot of things unknown and hopefully tomorrow we can tick as many boxes as possible.”
Vettel and his race engineer discover new Baku track
Maranello, June 14th – Formula One rushes from Canada to Azerbaijan in a race against time as the European Grand Prix finds its slot back in the racing calendar, where it was missing since 2012 (Valencia). The Baku Grand Prix is the first new entry since the Russian race was introduced in 2014 and the 6.007 Km street track in the downtown section of the capital city is the second longest after Spa-Francorchamps (7.004 km). So far, only a virtual analysis of the track has been possible, but it looks like Baku will be the fastest street event ever, featuring a 2.2 Km long straight juxtaposed to a sequence of corners (number 8, 9 and 10) where the course is just over 7 meters wide.
“I don’t know much about Azerbaijan” says Sebastian Vettel ahead of the racing weekend. “I’m really looking forward to getting there, as I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. I’ve heard that the track is very exciting, with parts leading through the whole town and narrow in places. So, I think it should be exciting. I am a big fan of street circuits. Usually, they are very tricky, bumpy, rough, very narrow places. So, hopefully Baku fulfills these expectations and goes in line with other street circuit classics.”
“So far we have seen this track only on the simulator” says Vettel’s race engineer Riccardo Adami. “We did a specific session to understand the characteristics of this track. It is a challenge because it features a very difficult sequence of corners and one long straight and then you go through the town with the famous turn 8, a peculiar turn of this track, where all of a sudden the course becomes very narrow.” Weather could also play a role here, according to Adami: “It will be very different from Canada, we’re expecting warmer weather and even hot conditions. Normally, in this place, it should be quite windy. So, it will be a challenge for us to tackle properly the set up to find the right balance between the long straight and the slow speed corners and the braking.”