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Formula One: 2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Paul Jeffrey

RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief
Baku Race.jpg

Welcome to the central discussion thread for the 2019 FIA Formula One Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Always an entertaining race that is just waiting to catch out the unaware driver, love it or loathe it the Azerbaijan Grand Prix has very quickly established itself as a spectacular addition to the Formula One calendar.

With unforgiving walls and a high probability of mixed up results and safety car periods, this could be a weekend where we see someone other than a Mercedes driver stand atop the podium come race end.

Will 2019 be a repeat of previous seasons? In just a few short days we will find out...

Session Report Links:
  • Free Practice One
  • Free Practice Two
  • Free Practice Three
  • Qualifying
  • Race

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Last edited:

Paul Jeffrey

RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief

DRIVERS – Antonio GIOVINAZZI (Alfa Romeo Racing), Nico HULKENBERG (Renault), Kevin MAGNUSSEN (Haas), Lance STROLL (Racing Point)

Q: Kevin, we’re going to start with you. We’ve seen dramatic races in each of the last two years here in Baku. How much do you as a driver enjoy the challenge of racing here?
Kevin MAGNUSSEN: I think it’s an exciting race. As you said, lots of action, lots of safety cars, and stuff like that in previous years. We’ll see -- this year everyone is trying to go conservative, and maybe we’ll have a boring race. I don’t know. It’s a cool track, it’s fun to drive, and lots of good opportunity to overtake and race people, so yeah. A good place to go racing.

Q: We’re going to get all of your thoughts on this place. Lance, you’ve obviously had a podium here in the past -- is it a place that holds fond memories for you?
Lance STROLL: Absolutely. A very memorable day -- being on the podium was extremely special. Kevin said it -- every year here there’s opportunity, the races are pretty chaotic, especially the last four or five laps. Last year, with the safety car restarts, there’s always positions up for grabs, so we’ll see what this year has to offer.

Q: Nico, you obviously haven’t had the results at this venue, but do you enjoy the challenge of racing here?
Nico HULKENBERG: I do. It’s a spectacular track, it’s super fast, it’s massively challenging, a little bit crazy as well, in a positive sense. Racing’s good with all the towing that’s going on, obviously into Turn One that’s your best shot, but the scenery, the setting, just makes for good racing. It’s pretty entertaining from inside the car as well here.

Q: Antonio, moving on to you. This will be your first time racing in Formula One here, but you had a double win in what was GP2 in 2016. How excited are you to get out there in an F1 car?
Antonio GIOVINAZZI: Yeah, it will be my first time in F1 but like you say I have good memories here. Back in 2016 I took my first in GP2 and then double win for the races. So I’m looking forward to it; I know it’s a difficult race, like Kevin said a lot of safety cars and a lot of things during the races, so yeah, looking forward to race here in F1.

Q: We’ll stay with you, Antonio. Frédéric Vasseur, your team principal, said he felt the team let you down in China. You’ve had three difficult races to start the season -- do you feel that so far you haven’t been able to show your true potential this year?
AG: I think we are only in the beginning of the race, we are a team, and like the team is believing in me, I believe in the team. We need to just keep working and I’m sure the results will come.

Q: Nico, if we look at things from a Renault perspective, you’ve had a couple of DNFs, which you say are frustrating, but is it more a feeling of frustration at those results or encouragement at the pace the car has shown?
NH: A bit of both, to be honest. Obviously you have to have the hiccups and the DNFs, it’s not great. Especially in the early part of the season -- it’s good to get points under your belt, just get them on your account. But on the good side, the pace has been there. At every track that we’ve been to either both or one car has been in good positions and managed to score decent points, so we feel we have a strong baseline. Obviously the midfield is still very very tight, and the top three still seem well ahead. It’s about maintaining that, keeping momentum, and making sure we make the car faster week by week.

Q: Lance, moving on to you. Racing Point, or Force India as it was, has traditionally developed its car very well and come on strong during the season. What’s the atmosphere like in the team at the moment as you look to chase the pace of Renault and Haas?
LS: Yeah, that’s the goal. It’s a development race all the way to the end of the season. The midfield’s very tight; it’s not a secret. Every tenth counts at the moment, so that will be the focus for the rest of the season -- to develop the car, try and pick up as many points as we can over the course of the year.

Q: Kevin, returning to you. Haas has shown some great pace in qualifying but struggled in races. Guenther Steiner seems a bit pessimistic about chances this weekend. Are you a bit more optimistic that you can be fighting for points here?
KM: I would say you always go into the weekend hopeful and positive, looking forward to it. Theoretically, it’s not a track that will in theory help our issues, or at least the issues that we think we have. But, again, we’ve scored points here with a slow car, and I don’t think we have a slow car this weekend. We have a fast car, it’s just that… You know, we’ve had both cars in Q3 at all three races this year and then we’ve been kind of like the second-slowest team in the race almost in all three races also, so there’s clearly an issue there that we need to fix. I hope and think that it will just be a matter of time until we find that problem.


Q: (Christian Nimmervoll – motorsport-total.com) Antonio, you mentioned during winter testing that you’re going to drive as much as possible like Kimi’s driving style in order to help the engineers with setup and development direction. Do you think that did any damage to your performance in terms of you not being able to follow your natural instincts?
AG: I don’t think so. I think in Melbourne we were fast and I just had an issue in the race with a crash on Turn One. Then in Bahrain I was just a half-tenth from Kimi and in China was just a difficult weekend – but so far I think it’s not to the main issue, I would say. Of course, Kimi has a different driving style from my one but, to be honest, we’re quite on the same way and so far we’ll keep working like that and I’m sure when the luck is also on our side, the result with come.

Q: (Valentin Khorounzhiy – motorsport.com) Question to Kevin. There seems to have been the suggestion that already there are some fixes in pace for your problem of tyre warm-up on the car in Baku. Can you elaborate what those fixes are – and do you expect a real, tangible impact from them here already?
KM: Well, we can’t say there’s been a fix. We’ve changed stuff and tried to come up with some things that could be the fix but it’s not like… it’s one of those things where you try to figure out what is the problem, and why it’s happening, and then you find solutions. I think we’re still in the process of understanding what exactly is the problem, and then after that we need to find a fix. So yeah, we have come here with some things that we hope can help the situation – but we will see how it goes.

Q: (Hector Sagues – Diariomotor.com) How much of an advantage has it been having Daniel Ricciardo in the team, compared with other team-mates at Renault in the last two seasons?
NH: Well, obviously he’s a very strong, good driver. Another thing in China, you saw he has arrived at Renault, feels more at home and can extract everything from the car. Obviously also very experienced and he has some real good feedback so far. Good thing is we feel the same way about the car and what we look for from the car and from the team, so I think it’s been fairly positive and very productive – so a good strong addition.

Q: Just on the topic of team-mates, for two of you it’s a new team-mate this year. Lance, what’s it like working with Sergio and coming to a circuit that he’s been particularly strong at in the past?
LS: So far, so good. He’s a very experienced driver, he’s been with the team a long time. We share a very similar opinion of where the car stands at the moment, and that’s always good to help the team develop for the future. So yeah, early days but we’ve been having a good working relationship up until now.

…And Antonio, you knew Kimi from your time working at Ferrari but any surprises racing alongside him in the same team?
AG: No. I think the same. To have Kimi as a team-mate is just a help for my side. He’s a World Champion driver with a lot of experience so it’s just good for me, good for the team as well for the feedback and the development of the car. Really happy to have him as my team-mate.

Q: (Jens Nagler – Bild) Question for Nico. We’ve seen you adopted a puppy. You posted it on your social media. Is that kind of a mascot because of all the bad luck you had in the last races?
NH: I think you want me to say yes – but not really. It’s just one of those things. I’ve been a dog fan for a long, long time and now felt it was time to get one. Not adopted, just got it.

Paul Jeffrey

RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief

Another Draining Day For Williams.
Baku FP1 Report.jpg

Williams woes continue as a loose drain cover wrecks George Russell's car and brings a very early end to opening practice in Baku.

Nothing to see here! The opening practice session of the season would be a super short one for the Grand Prix field, as George Russell brought the session to a conclusion early on after severely damaging his Williams car when running over a loose drain cover out on the difficult street circuit.

With the track condition deemed too dangerous to continue, it would be just the Ferrari duo of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel who managed to set a representative time, with track action set to continue later in the day for FP2.

Provisional FP1 Results:
  1. Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:47.497 5
  2. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:49.598 +2.101s 4

Paul Jeffrey

RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief

Viva Ferrari!
Baku FP2 Report.jpg

Charles Leclerc lead a Ferrari 1-2 in the second Free Practice session of the 2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The second Free Practice of the weekend would be a much more lengthy affair for many of the teams, although it will be a sobering sight for Mercedes when they review the pace of Ferrari prior to Saturday practice and qualifying in Baku.

Charles Leclerc would be the most impressive man of the weekend to date, the young Ferrari rookie having an exceptional afternoon despite a kiss with the barrier, the second year driving showing some blistering pace to lap the tight and twisty street circuit some three tenths faster than his four-time World Champion teammate, giving Ferrari a moral boosting 1-2 ahead of qualification day tomorrow.

With the front of the grid locked out by Ferrari it would still be fun and games further down, with many drivers making use of escape roads or barriers to slow down, including a big hit for Racing Point driver Lance Stroll, wiping out the front left of his pink machine and putting yet another dampener on what has been an underwhelming season for the team so far.

Another in the wars would be birthday boy Daniil Kvyat, the Toro Rosso man having a sizeable hit with the wall and bringing out the red flag - the third of the weekend to date. Despite that impact, Kvyat would still close the day in P6, a very solid result despite what has been a challenging weekend so far for the team.

Provisional FP2 Results:
  1. Charles Leclerc LEC Ferrari 1:42.872 28
  2. Sebastian Vettel VET Ferrari 1:43.196 +0.324s 28
  3. Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes 1:43.541 +0.669s 31
  4. Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing Honda 1:43.793 +0.921s 24
  5. Valtteri Bottas BOT Mercedes 1:44.003 +1.131s 31
  6. Daniil Kvyat KVY Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 1:44.177 +1.305s 9
  7. Carlos Sainz SAI McLaren Renault 1:44.183 +1.311s 27
  8. Alexander Albon ALB Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 1:44.216 +1.344s 33
  9. Pierre Gasly GAS Red Bull Racing Honda 1:44.240 +1.368s 24
  10. Lando Norris NOR McLaren Renault 1:44.295 +1.423s 32
  11. Kevin Magnussen MAG Haas Ferrari 1:44.901 +2.029s 25
  12. Antonio Giovinazzi GIO Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 1:45.366 +2.494s 31
  13. Sergio Perez PER Racing Point BWT Mercedes 1:45.436 +2.564s 28
  14. Kimi Räikkönen RAI Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 1:45.482 +2.610s 30
  15. Daniel Ricciardo RIC Renault 1:45.483 +2.611s 15
  16. Romain Grosjean GRO Haas Ferrari 1:45.618 +2.746s 31
  17. Nico Hulkenberg HUL Renault 1:46.717 +3.845s 24
  18. Lance Stroll STR Racing Point BWT Mercedes 1:47.875 +5.003s 8
  19. Robert Kubica KUB Williams Mercedes 1:48.111 +5.239s 27


Track racer
Thanks @Paul Jeffrey - would you have a link or access to an HD version of the Ferrari shot above by any chance? It is just gorgeous.
If there is a F1 GP to watch - Baku is on the top of the list - there will be a 70% chance of seeing the safety car ;)
This should be a good race, Baku has always surprised with loads of variables, one thing for sure this a Ferrari win, unless they give it away.
Hopefully we get more action than China, but Baku usually has quite a lot of action. Lets keep the record of no driver winning twice in Baku and give Leclerc his first win
Snapped this yesterday, thats not a manhole skimming the floor, thats diggin in deep. Actually cracked the monocoque. Yeah its old news...
FP3 , top times all are on softs

While Merc is obviously sandbagging , but the Qualy will be Ferrari 1-2 like Bahrain


The circuit is fine but this is the most ugly stuppid corner ever :(

There are no stupid corners IMO...mistakes just happen; it's on every driver to navigate every corner successfully and on every team to setup cars to the track efficiently.