June 20, 2017

F1 on TV: Azerbaijan 2017

BIG NEWS!!!  They changed the name of this race!  Last year, it was the European Grand Prix!  How exciting can you get?  (sigh)  It's kind of a fascinating track, this street circuit at Baku, a mix of Monaco and drag racing track.  Here's the map:

Sector two runs through Baku Oldtown, through ridiculously narrow streets and zipping past a friggin' castle (actually a curtain wall, but who's counting?).  But see, here's the thing... as interesting as that can be, the whole rest of the track is a whole lot of nothing.  The whole of Sector three, from Turn 16 to Turn 1, is essentially one long straight.  Oh, sure, there's a little whoopsie at Turn 18, but last year the cars weren't slowing down for it.  What do you think this year's chassis, with it's higher grip levels and wider tires, are going to do?  And then there's Sector one.  It's no breaking news that I'm not fond of 90° turns since they guarantee that any sort of flow that might arise is immediately mugged, stuffed in a canvas bag, and thrown into the ocean with weights attached.  Look at the old circuits like Spa or Monza or Suzuka or Silverstone... they look like they were designed freehand, no drafting triangles or protractors allowed.  In fact, the only right-angled turns on those circuits are new additions, generally a chicane to slow the cars down before a blast to the finish line (note: Monza is exactly the opposite, a chicane to slow the cars down after the front straight).  Those places have a rhythm to them, rhythms that a good driver can meld into.  Monaco is a special case, of course, as Monaco always has been.

So Baku has a terrible reputation, even after just one race.  Last year, the teams were cautious unto death, tiptoeing their way around the place like... um... I can't think of a good metaphor.  This year, as mentioned earlier, wider tires and a wider car altogether is going to make the Oldtown section even more terrifying, probably.  That's not a good thing.  I would be interested in seeing how the place races in the wet, but as Baku averages 8mm of rainfall in the month of June, I'm not holding my breath.

Neither are the Legendary Announce Team members, probably.  Here's the broadcast schedule for the weekend:
Practice 2: 1p - 230p tape delay on NBCSN (they're showing the Royal Ascot instead)
Quals: 8a - 930a live on CNBC
2017 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan: 7a - 10a live on NBCSN

All times Pond Central, check your local listings if you don't trust me.

With any luck, there will be something interesting to write about afterwards... or maybe I'll get to rant again, who knows?  See ya then!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:09 PM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
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1 This is the one where we got to enjoy that somewhat-terrifying test-run video last year, yes?


Posted by: GreyDuck at June 21, 2017 07:45 AM (rKFiU)

2 A bit OT, I read yesterday that France is returning to the lineup next year, at Circuit Paul Ricard.  Anyone know anything about the track, and have any thoughts about F1 returning there?

Posted by: Thomas at June 21, 2017 04:05 PM (mSIXR)

Posted by: Thomas at June 21, 2017 04:07 PM (mSIXR)

Posted by: Thomas at June 21, 2017 04:08 PM (mSIXR)

5 Tiptoeing around like... The Scooby Gang?

Posted by: Mauser at June 21, 2017 08:45 PM (m1WSx)

6 Thomas, Circuit Paul Ricard was for many years a testing location for F1 in the offseason.  There was a very good reason for this: it could be modified to just about any configuration you wanted.  If I had to say what existing F1 track it reminded me of, I'd say Canada, but with a LOT more runoff area.
But it will have been 28 years since F1 last raced there when the lights go out next year.  It will essentially be a new circuit for everybody.

Posted by: Wonderduck at June 21, 2017 09:21 PM (1BL+a)

7 GD, it was... and for your viewing enjoyment, here's last year's pole lap!  At one point, Nico Rosberg reaches 220mph...

Posted by: Wonderduck at June 21, 2017 09:28 PM (1BL+a)

8 He really used every inch of the space between those ever-present sheer walls, didn't he? Yegods.

Posted by: GreyDuck at June 23, 2017 07:43 AM (rKFiU)

9 I still maintain that the 8-9-10 complex is a disaster waiting to happen.  If someone screws up there (or the inevitable Honda engine fail happens there), they have to red flag (since there's no space for a car to pass).  At that point, I have no idea how anyone between pit entrance and that turn complex returns to the pits.  This is also discounting the fact that turn 8 is blind to any problems in the narrow corridor.

Posted by: ReallyBored at June 23, 2017 10:20 AM (MmkR/)

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