2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix stats preview

2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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There’s been a change of name for Azerbaijan’s round of the world championship this weekend – and we’re guaranteed a first-time winner in Baku.

Race history

Expect a different winner for Baku’s second race
Last year’s race in Baku was dubbed the ‘European’ Grand Prix. It wasn’t the first race to use a name it has a debatable claim to: we’ve previously had the ‘Luxembourg Grand Prix’ in Germany, the ‘San Marino Grand Prix’ in Italy and the ‘Swiss Grand Prix’ in France (although the latter was once held at a track in Switzerland as well).

For 2017 the ‘European’ moniker has been dropped in favour of the less controversial title of ‘Azerbaijan Grand Prix’, which is being used for the first time. There are only three other grand prix titles which have been used just once: Pescara (1957), Morocco (1958) and Dallas (1984). Baku joins Donington Park as the only other track to have held a single European Grand Prix.

For the second year in a row the teams are travelling to Baku from one of the most distant rounds of the championship – Canada. The closest F1 track to Baku is Sochi in Russia. At least this time they have two weeks to make their transatlantic trip instead of one.

No driver from Azerbaijan has ever competed in a round of the world championship. The same is true of two other F1 hosts: Bahrain and Singapore. This isn’t likely to change any time soon for all three of these countries, as none of them have any drivers with any F1 superlicence points:

The Baku City Circuit was used for the first time last year. Measuring 6.003 kilometres it is the second-longest track on the current calendar, behind only Spa-Francorchamps (7.004km).

The track features one of the longest flat-out acceleration zones of the year, and consequently some of the highest top speeds. Last year Williams reported Valtteri Bottas hit a top speed of 378kph (234.9mph) during qualifying.

The official speed trap recorded a maximum of 340.8kph for Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India, which was achieved during the grand prix. Higher speeds than this were recorded at the speed trap in Mexico, where Bottas clocked 372.5kph during the race.

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The form book

There’s little form to speak of as F1 has only raced here once before. However unless Nico Rosberg is planning a shock return from retirement we will see a new pole sitter and race winner this weekend.

Hamilton seemed to hit it off with this track to begin with last year, heading all three practice sessions. But a scruffy qualifying session ended with him in the barriers in Q3, he started tenth and could only reach fifth after experiencing an engine settings problem in the race.

Force India were very competitive in this race 12 months ago. Sergio Perez finished on the podium and would have started on the front row if he hadn’t picked up a penalty during practice.

Twelve months later they are enjoying one of their best ever starts to a campaign. Seven races in they are fourth in the championship on 71 points. They only bettered that after the same number of races in 2014, when they were also fourth but on 77 points. Could they have bettered that had Perez played ball when asked to let Esteban Ocon by in Canada?

Lap times

Last year’s quickest last time was little more than a tenth of a second slower than the had been predicted for the new track.

Race ratings

Here’s how F1 Fanatic readers rated this race last year.

Join in Rate the Race when the chequered flag falls at the end of this year’s race. You will need a (free) F1 Fanatic account to participate:

2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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    Author information

    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    38 comments on “2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix stats preview”

    1. I really like how the track looks.
      The big buildings far away on a long straight getting bigger very fast just shows the sheer speed splendidly i think.
      Really unique scenery…

      1. Agreed. It’s nice to see a new track going against trends and being longer and narrower than most tracks.

        I’m a big fan of the challenge of street circuits and I rate this track highly because of the variety of corners. Only problem with it is it’s too hard in the games… For me anyway.

        1. I rank this track on par with Marina Bay, Hungaroring or maybe Sepang, as in they’re huge fun to drive and see onboards and such, but not for racing. To be fair, wet races in the Hungaroring have been cool, as is the case in Sepang, but other than that, races are mostly dull. This track would be a bit cooler without DRS, especially on the fast last sector. Side by side up until turn 1 would be awesome.

      2. It doesn’t even look like a circuit from that angle. Just 2 long straights and a hairpin. I like street circuits as well.. but this one is just pure rubbish.

        1. I didn´t mean the picture, but the onboard laps of last year. seeing tall buildings far away getting bigger very fast just shows the 300+ kmh… also driving through a real city is cool. the only one except monaco where you´re actually driving in a city. the city looks lovely and i like the trees hanging over the track. all in all (not really considering the layout) a beautiful race venue i think.

          1. But in Monaco there are people watching… Baku is something like a zombietown.
            You have to dig for photos with any serious amount of spectators ..

            1. I´ve never been in baku but after the race i´ve seen the complete city. Its a citytour with formula 1 cars.
              Politics completely aside, its a good idea. Imagine something like that in new york or amsterdam.
              New Jersey planned something much easier and couldn´t pull it off, so… Chapeau!

            2. IIRC that was because they could not guarantee Bernie Ecclestone a large enough paycheck.

          1. @davidnotcoulthard

            What a find. Looks like Tilke’s ancestors at work.

      3. Totally Agree. It’s like the love child of Monaco & Spa. I do hope the world feed changes some of the camera angles and shots. They really didn’t do it justice this first timeout.

    2. To be fair, I think the rating last year had more to with F1, than the circuit, because the GP2 was the highlight of the season for me.

      1. Fukobayashi (@)
        20th June 2017, 12:22

        No, there was some optimism for an exciting race once the first pictures emerged of some of the impossibly narrow sections of track through the historic quarter. But the race itself was probably the worst I have seen in 2 decades of F1 viewership.

        1. Really? You are exagerating, there have been similar and more boring races at even the so called great f1 tracks in the past two decades. The problem was.. it was a perfect f1 race, teams/drivers ran according to their best speed, f1 was at fault. Put a grid of similar speed cars like in indycar, it would be better, like gp2 race was. The track is fine, but maybe not for f1 because of too much disparity in cars speed.

          1. DRS on those very long roads made it extremely frustrating to watch.
            Speed differences of about 30/50 Km/h made passing a breeze and very boring to watch.

      2. I agree with @tomd11, the GP2 race was exceptional and the F1 race was such a disappointment in comparison.

      3. I think a lot of the F1 drivers saw the GP2 race and approached the F1 race more tentatively. I expect this year they’ll probably be more incidents.

      4. If I recall correctly that GP2 race featured a safety car period towards the end which had backed everybody up and resulted in some great racing for the last couple of laps.

        It had artificially set the bar for F1 and the Grand Prix failed to deliver. This year’s cars are completely different though and may produce a different outcome. The key factor will be to have more than one competitive car in contention at the end of the first lap.

      5. Yep. Amazing Baku GP2 race last year. Wreckage all over the circuit and about
        fifteen restarts ! Chaos does not describe it….. great footage though !
        But, like many others, I was not enthusiastic about an F1 race laughably
        called ‘European’ when it was nothing of the sort. Ecclestone would have been
        quite prepared to sell the British GP title to Outer Mongolia if they paid him enough.
        Utterly ludicrous marketing.

        So lets enjoy this new Asian F1 race for what it is. And you never know….we might
        get to see perhaps half a dozen spectators on those eerily empty balconies this year !
        Monaco could show you how to do it, Baku. But then the Monegasque have an enviably
        fabulous racing history, don’t they ?

        You are on a very long road, Baku….in more senses than one……..

    3. Quick question; are they still going for one DRS detection point, but two activiation zones?

    4. This is a track people love to hate.

      I love it. Some corners are similar to Singapore (a track which people don’t seem to mind), while other parts are unique.

      The way the track features trees hanging over it, historic and modern buildings immediately next to it. It’s a stunning circuit and more than fitting to be on the calendar, as far as I am concerned. And it’s punishing, lined by walls, not friendly runoff.

      I know a lot of people question the impossibly tight and narrow corner, but we’ve finally got a very rare unique challenge, and yet people complain. If this track stays in the long-term, it will become an icon of Formula One.

      The only thing I wish were different, was I think they should’ve run it clockwise instead. If you look on YouTube, F1 2016 videos show it flows better (in my opinion). They’d have to re-align corners to make the run-off areas.

      Oh well, I’m really looking forward to this weekend.

    5. great charts in this article ;)

    6. ”No driver from Azerbaijan has ever competed in a round of the world championship. The same is true of two other F1 hosts: Bahrain and Singapore.” Well Haryanto was pretty forgettable so I don’t blame you.

      As for form, I’d be surprised if there would be anything else but Mercedes engines on the podium seeing how well Force India did last year. This will be the real test if Ferrari’s power unit is as good as Mercedes.

      1. Haryanto isn’t from Azerbaijan, Bahrain or Singapore. He’s Indonesian.

      2. What driver was from Abu Dhabi?

      3. Arad (@just-an-fan)
        20th June 2017, 17:57

        Funny because last year Vettel with that dog of Ferrari finished P2 vs Hammy P5!! I wonder what Vettel can do with this year’s Ferrari!!!

        1. @just-an-fan If last year’s early-season Ferrari was a dog God knows what you think of the STR002 Vettel drove at the beginning of 2008.

          1. Arad (@just-an-fan)
            20th June 2017, 21:54

            No, STR002 was not a dog, it was a dog crap but it had a decent engine.

    7. Hi, I am wondering if anyone is aware of anywhere in San Sebastian to watch the race this weekend? I’m am travelling there and am unsure if my Hotel will have the right channel. Cheers.

      1. Details are on wiki, though I suggest finding a bar

      20th June 2017, 19:01

      For the second year in a row the teams are travelling to Baku from one of the most distant rounds of the championship – Canada.

      Sorry I am from Montreal. Distant related to what? Europe probably? So Australia is sureley more distant, and Texas, and Brazil, and….. (sorry for nitpicking)

      1. Distant from F1 capital city, Brackley-UK, obviously. But you’re right, Melbourne are three times farther than Montreal.

      2. It’s distant relative to the destination (at least that’s how I understood it).

    9. However unless Nico Rosberg is planning a shock return from retirement we will see a new pole sitter and race winner this weekend.

      Toto Wolff doesn’t seem to say otherwise

      1. @davidnotcoulthard Well. Wolff definitely try to lure back Rosberg. Yesterday he said Rosberg are the vicious one just to lit last year winner spirit and follow by today statement that Bottas is in an uncomfortable situation at Mercedes. :)

        1. They need a driver who can develop the car. Lewis can not and Bottas has hardly any Merc experience.

          1. This has been the classic F1 driver debate for nearly 40 years. In the
            old days teams employed development drivers who did nothing else
            but drive the wheels off test cars. When the FIA rules threw out random
            in-season testing ( apart from set periods ) the test drivers became
            virtually redundant and now the big shiny F1 stars really don’t want to
            do all the repetitive, boring circuit work, do they ?

            So how do you then develop your cars ? Computer simulation; is
            it really that good ? Statistical analysis ? Really, nothing beat driving
            the wheels off for hours does it ?

    10. It’s time for Lewis to show his class. He MUST take victory to really get back in the hunt.

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