Azerbaijan 2019 - GP preview - Toro Rosso
“After China, my opinion on the penalty decision relating to the first lap incident hasn’t changed, but the debate is over and we must move forward and look to Baku now. Thinking about what happened or discussing it further will not bring my race back. On the positive side, in Shanghai, qualifying was very satisfying and my pace in the race was very promising. We just have to keep working hard, not get disheartened, not give up and the results will come.
Baku is a very nice track, because it presents many challenges, with a bit of everything and overall it is fun to drive there. It’s a long track, with a very long straight and a lot of corners, which all makes for exciting racing and should present a good opportunity for us. The fun comes partly from all those walls that are very close to the track, which give you a real adrenaline rush.
It’s a track with many overtaking opportunities and the long straight means you can fight other cars. It’s an interesting track as it is very demanding and you have to run slightly less downforce than you would do normally at a street circuit. Braking is also challenging so you have to be on top of that, especially approaching Turn 1 at very high speed at the end of the very long straight. You need to be precise with the braking points there. I will give it my all !”
“I was a bit frustrated in China because of the crash as I felt it was an opportunity missed, mainly because of the good pace we had just before it. I’ll be more careful on artificial grass in future ! I was a bit annoyed with myself but still positive going into the race as I knew we had the potential to get points, even from the pit lane. I’m happy we could make it in the end. Each time I get in the car, I’m feeling more comfortable with it, my understanding of tyre management always gets better and our pace is improving steadily too.
I’ve raced in Baku in Formula 2, in fact I won the first ever featured race there, the one with all of the crashes. I got pole and I kept out of trouble, even though a bad pit stop saw me drop down to third and then we were three abreast going into Turn 1. We all went straight on, but I went less straight on than the other two, found myself second but managed to get past for the win. It’s a nice memory, when we’re about to go there !
The track is very unusual and with the very long main straight down to Turn 1, your tyres can be cold, it can be an absolute mess there – we’ve seen when there have been restarts ! You get a multiple slipstream effect on cold tyres, with cold brakes, everyone going into that first turn. Therefore, you have to keep your nose clean and be very precise. It’s also got that very narrow section through the old town, which is really cool, and it’s there where you can make a difference on a qualifying lap. The track is a bit like Monaco in the sense that you can put it on the line a little bit more, especially in qualifying when you really push it over the kerbs and brush the walls of the castle. I enjoy it.
I have to consider this will be my first time on a street circuit in a Formula 1 car. I enjoy street tracks, especially driving a car with low downforce between the walls – after China, maybe Franz won’t enjoy watching me so much ! Baku is a proper circuit, in the sense that, if you have the speed you can pass other cars. Our car has been quick enough at all three races for both of us to be in Q3 and we haven’t managed that yet. That should be our goal for qualifying.”