Nicholas Latifi, Williams, Baku City Circuit, 2021

Williams drivers hope Baku’s tunnel effect will mitigate car’s wind sensitivity

2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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George Russell and Nicholas Latifi hope the aerodynamic sensitivity of their car is not exposed by the strong winds forecast for this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Williams’ 2021 car has proven particularly sensitive to the wind in previous races. At Algarve Russell placed seventh fastest in the calmer conditions of first practice, but couldn’t replicate that pace in gustier conditions later in the weekend.

Strong winds are predicted on race day – up to 50kph gusts – but Russell said he doesn’t necessarily expect to encounter the same problems he had in Portugal.

“We do struggle with the wind, but it is a bit unique here between the walls, between the buildings,” he explained. “I think the wind almost follows the circuit around due to [its] nature.

“Today we had huge gusts which, ordinarily, would not have been nice for us. But I think this is a unique circuit and it probably won’t be as bad as it feels standing in the paddock. So we’ll have to wait and see.”

Latifi, who has only previously driven the track in an F2 car, echoed his team mate’s comments. “It’s obviously very, very windy but normally in street races you tend to get sheltering around the track, as was the case on the track walk this morning.

“You had some places, as well, where you get a lot of tunnelling, so it’s actually quite strong in some areas, but then it’s pretty much nonexistent in others. So it can be an issue depending on which direction and where you actually feel it.”

Latifi expects the intensity of the wind to subside over the weekend. “We’ll have to see in FP1, but I think it should die down over the next [few] days. Today is very, very extreme but hopefully it’s not the case when we get out there driving.”

While the team were not in contention for points in Monaco, Latifi is hopeful they will be more competitive in Baku. “A lot of the corners here are quite all very similar, very slow 90 degree corners. We tend to struggle a bit more in the slow speeds.

“It’s no secret, that was the case in Monaco. But at the same time, there are slightly different characteristics. It’s not as bumpy here. It’s obviously much longer straights.

“So I think it’ll definitely be quite a different set-up requirement from the car and I think it’ll be interesting to see how everyone tries to tackle that here. But I hope it could be more competitive than Monaco and if opportunities present themselves, obviously it is a track you can overtake and make something happen.”

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2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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4 comments on “Williams drivers hope Baku’s tunnel effect will mitigate car’s wind sensitivity”

  1. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Lewis blame a gust of wind at Turn 1 in one of the past races in Baku, for a lock up that blew his shot at pole or something? And that was corroborated by the Sky crew who said they saw the flags on the pole flutter at the exact same time? So maybe wind IS a factor?

    1. @wsrgo I don’t recall something like this in Baku.

      1. @jerejj might have been Silverstone now that I think about it.

  2. Enjoy Silverstone if you can’t break the curse.

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