‘…That you give me no, that you give me no, that you give me no, that you give me no sooouuuuuuuullll…’. That was Eurasia, right? WRONG!
Eurasia is the combined landmass of Europe and Asia that, while not being a continent in its own right, is a pseudo-continent adopted by countries in Western Asia to attempt to bridge the gap between their Asian location and Europe for geopolitical and economic reasons, and NOT an electro-pop band of the 1980s.
Azerbaijan’s notional place in Eurasia explains why the street circuit in Baku was introduced to F1 in 2016 as the European Grand Prix despite not actually being in Europe, before cementing its place on the calendar as the Azerbaijan Grand Prix a year later.
This year’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix – scene of Williams F1‘s last podium with Lance Stroll in 2017 – will be the fourth time Formula 1 has raced around the streets of Baku.
Like a Grand Prix round the streets of Kings Landing from #GOT in parts, the 3.73 mile, anti-clockwise, 20 corner circuit built by the Baku boulevard was another track conceived by F1’s track designer of choice Hermann Tilke.
Its one-and-a-half mile long straight and 90 degree turns combine to not only make the Azerbaijan Grand Prix F1’s fastest street course, but usually gives fans plenty of incident too, the Baku race has given us the highest number of overtakes in any Grand Prix in any of the last two years.
As with all street circuits, there is little room for error, but drivers are typically compensated for racing this close to a knife-edge by significantly lower speeds.
However, with Baku’s high speeds (cars reaching 220mph on the long straight) mean that any error, however marginal, is likely to be punished.
Attrition is usually high: seven retirements in 2018, including high profile exits for the two Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo who dramatically took each other out, and race leader Valtteri Bottas who ran over debris on a safety car restart.
So what can we expect this weekend. Well, in a way we should expect the unexpected.
The long straight is likely to favour Ferrari, but Mercedes’ corner speed seemed to be enough to compensate in China, and so the win could go any one of four ways.
Red Bull have shown so far that Max Verstappen has enough to at least be in the mix and could be there to pounce should any misfortune strike the guys ahead.
From a Williams perspective it’s highly likely that, whatever upgrades they bring to Baku, George Russell and Robert Kubica will assume their usual position at the back of the grid and soldier on through the race picking up places where they can.
But with this being Baku, quite a few places could be there for the picking!
Prediction: Russell 13th, Kubica 14th.