Formula One visits its first all-new country since Russia in 2014 (the 32nd country the championship has been to since 1950) when the European Grand Prix – a label not seen on the calendar since Valenciain 2012 – is held in Baku. For what is meant to be the fastest street circuit seen so far, Pirelli has nominated the medium, soft and supersoft tyres. As is always the case with a brand new venue, Pirelli has had to rely on simulation and acquired information rather than real data, which makes the task of nominating tyres more complex.
The circuit rrom a tyre point of view
As this is a street circuit, with new asphalt, low grip and high track evolution is expected.
Wear and degradation might be quite low, which is why a medium spectrum of tyres is chosen.
Overtaking is tricky with a narrow track, which means that qualifying and strategy is vital.
As teams have no knowledge of the track, we would expect a lot of running in free practice.
Very high top speeds are expected on the long 2.2-kilometre straight along the esplanade.
Baku will also be the second-longest lap of the year (6.003km) after Spa.
There hasn’t been an exceptional variation in the tyre choices from each team for Baku.
Weather forecasts have predicted warm weather but also high humidity: rain is possible.
While the circuit uses existing streets, a lot of the surface is brand new asphalt.
The three nominated compounds
White medium: this has not been extensively chosen, so unlikely to figure prominently.
Yellow soft: a high working range tyre, which could make it very important in the heat of Baku.
Red supersoft: the most popular choice, which will be used heavily in qualifying and the race.
The last European Grand Prix
The last European Grand Prix was actually held four years ago, in Valencia (where it was also the eighth race of the season). Fernando Alonso won for Ferrari from 11th on the grid.
Paul Hembery: “We’ve heard lots of interesting things about the circuit, and it seems that its character, lap length, and speed will certainly make it stand out. Obviously it’s never easy when you go to a circuit for the first time, but the conditions and the tyres are of course as always the same for everyone. The selection of compounds we have nominated should cope with a wide range of potential conditions; now of course it is down to the teams to get the most out of their choices and to identify the best possible strategies, which is why the running we see in free practice will be particularly important.”