Milan, April 24, 2019 – Following the opening round of the season in Bahrain, the Formula 2 drivers next take to the Baku street circuit this weekend, which has quickly gained a reputation as one of the most exciting events in the series. It’s a street circuit that’s very different in character to the others, combining high speeds with some of the narrowest sections on the calendar.

The challenge

▪ The very long pit straight at the Baku circuit means that teams tend to run their cars in low-downforce configuration, which is unusual on a street circuit. This strategy maximises straight-line speed but means there is more reliance on mechanical grip from the tyres through the corners.
▪ Something Baku does have in common with other street circuits is the considerable track evolution during the weekend. More rubber is laid down during each session, increasing the available grip. It’s a very long lap: the second-longest of the season after Spa.
▪ The nature of the Baku circuit leads to a high frequency of safety car appearances. This can make the timing of the mandatory pit-stop during the feature race crucial. During the very first race in Baku, back in 2016, there were four safety car periods and only 10 cars made the finish.

The tyres and strategy

▪ In Baku, the P Zero Yellow medium and P Zero Purple supersoft tyres will be available. These are the same compounds of tyre as nominated in 2018.
▪ Each driver has five sets of slick tyres to use over the weekend: three medium and two supersoft. They also have three sets of wet-weather tyres. During race one, where there is a mandatory pit stop, both compounds have to be used unless it is declared a wet race. Pit stops are optional in race two.

What happened last year?

Alexander Albon, now racing in Formula 1 for Toro Rosso, claimed his maiden Formula 2 win in the Baku feature race. He qualified on pole position and led the opening laps on the supersoft tyres, but a slow change to the medium tyres dropped him behind George Russell and Nyck de Vries, before capitalising on a clash between his rivals. Using a similar strategy, Jack Aitken came back from a problem on the grid to eventually finish second.

Russell won the sprint race from 12th on the grid, making his medium tyres last well to pass Sergio Sette Camara for the lead in the closing stages.

Mario Isola, Pirelli head of F1 and car racing:

“The big challenge is Baku is getting the balance right between the front and rear axles, in order to ensure that the tyres remain in the correct working window. That’s made more challenging by the fact that the long straights cool the tyres over the course of the lap, and also because the buildings that surround the track create patches of light and shade that affect track temperature. With the high frequency of safety cars, an adaptable approach is key. Overtaking is very possible, so we often see an exciting race where tyre strategy can make a key difference.”


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