Sebastian Vettel says setting up the car for the combination of slow corners and the long straights of the Baku City Circuit will not be easy. The Scuderia Ferrari driver heads into Azerbaijan on the back of a podium finish from the previous round in Shanghai, China, as the four-time Formula One world champion lies in fourth place in the drivers’ standings with 37 points, one point ahead of team-mate Charles Leclerc with one podium appearance. This time last year heading into Baku, Sebastian Vettel was leading away in the championship with 54 points and two wins to his name.
The German for the last three years performed strongly throughout the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, but has only stepped onto the podium once back at its inaugural race in 2016 where he finished second. During the 2017 race, Sebastian was in contention for the race win until he made contact with then race leader Lewis Hamilton whilst behind the safety car. The Ferrari driver was handed a stop-go penalty for the incident and lost the chance to win the race when Hamilton’s head rest became loose and was force to make a pit stop.
Last year, Sebastian Vettel led the majority of the race before a late safety car allowed Valtteri Bottas in front. In the restart, the German driver tried to make a move in order to regain the lead, but locked up heavily going into Turn 1 and lost several places as a result and ended the race in fourth place. Ahead of this year’s race, Sebastian has noted the challenge of setting a car up around the twisty streets of the Azerbaijan capital, saying it is ‘not an easy compromise’ over deciding the right wing levels for the combination of slow corners and the long 2.2 kilometre back straight.
“This six kilometre circuit has the longest straight on the calendar, 2.2 kilometres, where we reach 360 kph before the very heavy braking for the first slow left hand turn,” said Vettel – “The steep climb past the old city walls is only seven metres wide, which feels very tight in a Formula One car – you feel like you are threading a needle. There isn´t enough space for two cars here so you have to agree on the right of way between you! A big challenge at Baku is to find the right wing level to get good grip for the slow corners but also to be fast enough on the straights where we spend a lot of time at full throttle. It’s not an easy compromise.” – Scuderia Ferrari German driver Sebastian Vettel explained.