Azerbaijan Grand Prix: PREVIEW – Driver Interviews


Azerbaijan Grand Prix: PREVIEW – Driver Interviews

Race: Azerbaijan Grand Prix / Baku Grand Prix

Circuit: Baku City Circuit

Last year’s race at the Baku City Circuit was one that none of us will forget and hopefully we’ll see something similar this year too – minus any accidents.

As drivers are now making their way to Baku, let’s take a look and see what some drivers (and key team members) have to say ahead of the race weekend.

MCLAREN – Azerbaijan Grand Prix: PREVIEW – Driver Interviews

Fernando Alonso


Fernando Alonso: “Last year’s race in Baku was certainly a memorable one for us. It was a crazy grand prix and we scored our first points of the season there, so we’ll naturally be looking to repeat that this weekend.”

“Even though it’s only been on the calendar for a short time, this circuit is already known among the drivers as a great racer’s track.”

“It’s the fastest street track of the year and also one of the longest, so it’s pretty tough on the car and the driver, but that’s definitely part of the appeal.”

“We know our limitations and where we need to improve our package, and, although we bring parts to test to every race weekend, we aren’t anticipating a radical change in our performance in Baku.

“However, we’re learning more and more about the behaviour of our car each time we step into the cockpit, and in Azerbaijan we’ll be maximising everything we have as usual to score as many points as possible.”

Stoffel Vandoorne


Stoffel Vandoorne: “Baku City Circuit is a pretty tough but also enjoyable track, and it’s quite challenging for the drivers. You literally drive through the historic centre of the old town which was a really cool experience last year, and overtaking is tricky on the narrow streets.”

“Saying that, we saw anything but a processional race last year and hopefully we can take advantage of any drama that this track throws at us next weekend.”

“Last year was tough as the only real overtaking opportunity is at the end of the long straight, and it’ll be tricky for us again, but we’ll see what’s possible with the MCL33.”

“As well as making sure we set ourselves up on the right strategy, for me the start will be crucial on Sunday. I’ve not had the best starts over the last couple of races and with overtaking tough here we need to try to maximise our starting position.”

“In China, we fought hard but I picked up some floor damage which made pushing ahead very difficult, so I’m looking forward to a tight battle in the midfield and progressing as much as we can in the race.”

RED BULL RACING – Azerbaijan Grand Prix: PREVIEW – Driver Interviews

Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo: “Baku is different to other street circuits – because there are places where you can pass. Actually, lots of places where you can pass. As opposed to Monaco and Singapore where there’s not many places to overtake really.”

“The trickiest thing in Baku is braking. There’s so many braking points where you have to commit and you have to brake as late as you can – but there’s no room for error.”

“Once you’ve committed to that braking point, if you’ve locked a wheel, you’re in the wall. I would say the hardest part about Baku is finding the limit with braking, and just having that confidence.”

“You have Turn One, Turn Two and then the DRS straight. We’re honking down there, and then you see the wall coming, coming, coming and your instinct is to brake, brake, brake, brake.”

“You need a lot of confidence to leave it late. That’s the biggest challenge with Baku, being able to really attack the braking, it’s such a high-speed circuit. Monaco is not that high-speed, it’s more about cornering and Baku is more braking!”

“With a street circuit you have to love it – but you also have to respect it and understand it. I understand that, to be fast, you have to be on the limit – but put yourself there and it can bite you.

“Last year Baku was crazy in so many ways for so many people. Just like last week in Shanghai the team had an awesome strategy and made some great calls in the race.”

“Did I think we would carve our way all the way up to first, no way, but everyone in front was dropping like flies, I was making some good overtakes and there was just all this momentum keeping me going.”

“Crossing the line I was a bit confused, thinking how did we just win that race but also ecstatic. It was crazy, fun race and definitely one to remember.”

Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen: “Last year was a very unfortunate weekend for me. It was a shame because the car felt really good but I encountered a lot of problems which ultimately meant I missed out on a potential podium, perhaps even a win. I’m hoping this year I can make up for that lost opportunity.”

“Baku is a cool place so I enjoy going there and driving the track. It’s a nice circuit even though it isn’t ideally suited to our car. The straight is so long which means we miss out on some valuable time there.”

“Last year I think we managed to drive around our problems really well and therefore be competitive come the race day.”

“The castle section looks great on TV and is also a lot of fun to drive. It is really tight so you have to be precise turning in as there is no room for error, especially with the wider cars we have now.”

“I still haven’t managed to get out and see a lot of Baku. The hotel is right next to the paddock, so as well as being really convenient it also limits what you see of the city over a busy race weekend.”

“I have heard the local food is really tasty so I’ll do my best this year to get out and find some delicacies.”

MERCEDES – Azerbaijan Grand Prix: PREVIEW – Driver Interviews

Toto Wolff


Toto Wolff, Team Principal: “The 2018 Formula 1 season is set to be a celebration of everything we love about motor racing. Three teams are fighting fiercely for race wins.”

“We’ve witnessed exciting races with nail-biting overtakes. The fastest F1 cars in history, driven by some of the best drivers this sport has seen.”

“So far, this year has all the ingredients for one of those legendary F1 seasons – a season that fans will look back on with smiles on their faces in years to come.”

“It’s not just the fans at home or at the race track who are excited – we feel the same. And we know that we have a massive challenge on our hands. Last year, we were in a tough fight with Ferrari.”

“However, it was nothing compared to the intensity of this year’s battle. Both Red Bull and Ferrari will do everything they can to beat us.”

“Their cars, their teams, their drivers – all of them operate at a high level and will continue to put us under pressure. Not everyone likes this kind of challenge – but we love it.”

“Each member of our team joined this sport for these moments. We’re all together in an amazing battle in which every detail counts and with an outcome no-one can predict.”

“We’re going into the race weekend in Baku feeling excited about that unpredictability. It will be the first time the Azerbaijan Grand Prix takes place in April, with completely different conditions to the previous years when we went to the Caspian Sea in June.”

“This is a demanding circuit where the drivers need confidence in the car to find the right rhythm – and you want to hit the ground running on Friday morning.”

“Last year’s race threw up a podium that nobody could have predicted and, as is the way with street courses, we can once again expect the unexpected.”

RENAULT – Azerbaijan Grand Prix: PREVIEW – Driver Interviews

Nico Hulkenberg


Nico Hulkenberg: “It’s a positive start to the season, and it’s good to be at the front end of the midfield. It’s important to keep picking up a good number of points to make sure we are in the hunt.”

“It’s about continuing on this upward trajectory and putting the work in to make sure we are ahead of our rivals.”

Carlos Sainz


Carlos Sainz: “In general, I think these three first races have been quite positive and the whole team is showing great commitment to achieve our objectives.”

“On my side, I have had the chance to try different set ups in the car and I’m confident we’re heading in the right direction. We have to keep up the good work and always try to improve to bring as many points home as possible.”

There’s lots more coming soon so make sure you keep checking back for all the latest!

The Formula 1 Girl 🙂

x x


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