Welcome back, Baku! Baku Street Circuit
Honda Racing F1
We now come to the sixth round of the season, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, an event that was cancelled last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Although the venue in Baku is a street circuit like Monaco where we won a fortnight ago with Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing, it has very different characteristics. At a little over six kilometres, it is one of the longest circuits on the calendar and while the first and second sectors are typical of many street tracks, with several similar 90 degree corners, in the final sector the cars spend a long time at full acceleration. It is therefore important to find the right balance in terms of car set-up for the low speed corners and the long straight. With the PU, having good driveability is important for the low speed corners, while energy management is a factor for the long acceleration down the straight. As usual, we will base our settings on the data we have acquired so far this season, as well as from the 2019 edition of this race.
Yuki Tsunoda 22
Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda
Baku will be another new experience for me and I should benefit from some lessons learned in Monaco, another street circuit. My plan building up to the race in Monaco was to maximise the number of laps I did in practice, but unfortunately in FP2 I hit the wall and for me that was the main downside of the last weekend. Even though I didn’t feel that I had lost confidence because of the crash, in Qualifying that last bit of confidence, for example in the fast corners, is very important so I learned an important lesson, especially for street tracks, not to go into the wall!
I really enjoyed my first time in Monaco, it was a fantastic experience and really fun up until that moment in FP2. In general, after five races now, I am feeling more familiar with the race weekend, there are less surprises and I feel more in control and I’ve got used to some of the things that surprised me earlier in the year, like all the media work at races on a Thursday. It was using up a lot of my energy but now I am more comfortable with everything which is a positive thing.
The technical aspect is still quite challenging, especially as in the current situation I have been struggling a bit with the car set-up. I believe that is normal as I have only done five races, but the important thing is that I am learning a lot about the car. My mind set is fine, I’m in good shape and things are going in the right direction. There is still some pressure, but I am enjoying every minute of being a Formula 1 driver and there is always something new to deal with at every new track. In Monaco there was even the new experience of seeing fans and hearing them calling the names of the drivers, which felt really crazy.
This week is Baku, I have never raced there before but I have driven it on the simulator of course. Most of the corners seem to be 90 degree turns and almost all the corners are taken in similar speed range so it will be interesting. It’s another street circuit, but it looks as though it might be a little bit easier to adapt to than Monaco. Hopefully I will be in a better situation there. Again, I will try and do as many laps as possible and my main aim will be to make sure I don’t get too close to the walls in practice and Qualifying. I will take the Monaco experience and everything I learned there and apply it in Azerbaijan.
I am pleased with the definite progress made by the team with the car since the beginning of the season. It’s true the results have not come together yet and I am on a steep learning curve. I spend as much time as possible talking with my engineers to learn more and I hope that will help me continue to make progress through the season.
A word from the other three drivers : ..............................