A busy first day of practice for the team at this new and challenging street circuit in Baku, Azerbaijan. This was a very intense pair of sessions as the engineers needed to gather a broad range of data, running the cars in a number of different configurations in order to best establish the development and performance path for the remainder of the weekend.
Apart from a fuel system issue for Fernando in second practice, which briefly delayed his first run on the Option tyre, both cars ran smoothly throughout.
“Today was positive.
“We arrived to find a very fast track, as we expected, but also one with some challenging corners. Maybe we need to go through the data at some of the corners as there’s still areas where we can improve – tightening up our knowledge of the inside kerbs and the racing lines, for instance. That’s something I did in Singapore a few years ago, and it really helped.
“Looking at the data we had from the simulator, I reckon our level of competitiveness is possibly slightly better than we’d anticipated – we’re performing quite well, so that’s the positive news of today.
“Today’s positions don’t really show our full potential.”
“We started this morning a little bit better than we’d perhaps expected, but, once everyone had got to grips with the track, it moved us to our usual positions.
“Getting the right downforce level will be key for qualifying – we still need to work out what that will be, as our understanding isn’t quite there yet. We also need to better understand the tyres, too – the Soft seems to be a good tyre, but we need to improve our performance on the Supersoft.
“There are some good corners around here; Turn 14 is right on the edge – it’s mad, really – but the section past the castle is too slow. The car felt reasonably okay, but, on a slippery track, when you get a tiny bit of oversteer, you suddenly get a lot of oversteer, which makes things tough.
“We’re not quite there yet with the balance, but I hope we can get things into shape for Saturday and Sunday.”
ERIC BOULLIER – Racing director, McLaren-Honda
“Today was always going to be challenging: given the contrasting characteristics of this track – the lengthy, high-speed main straight, and the tight, unforgiving section through the old city – it was essential to establish optimal downforce and balance settings for the remainder of the weekend.
“That meant running both cars in a number of different wing, floor, tyre, fuel and balance configurations in order to gather as much data as possible for our engineers to study this evening. We’ve certainly got plenty of information – we just need to look over it carefully tonight.
“First impressions of this track are certainly impressive – it’s already clear that this is no ordinary weekend, and the race on Sunday is likely to be tense, exciting and unpredictable, which can only be a positive for the fans.
“Let’s hope that we’re well equipped to take full advantage of that expected unpredictability on Sunday..”
YUSUKE HASEGAWA – Honda R&D head of F1 project & executive chief engineer
“Our focus today was to set up the car and power unit to the first ever F1 track in Baku. Based on today’s performance, we still need to tweak the power unit data to adapt to the frequent braking, long straights and the over-6km full lap. All in all, we believe that the setting is good so far.
“Obviously, Friday’s finishing positions do not often reflect the reality of the race, but we are at a good starting point.”