Friday, June 17, 2016


Formula 1 moves to its 32nd new country this weekend with the inaugural Baku European Grand Prix in Azerbaijan on what looks like the fastest street track F1 has ever seen. Speeds of up to 350km/h are predicted on the 2.1km long straight, which is the kind of speed only seen at Monza and in the high altitude of Mexico!

The six kilometre, counter-clockwise layout of the circuit was designed by circuit architect Hermann Tilke.The circuit is planned to start adjacent to Azadliq Square, then loop around Government House before heading west to Maiden Tower. Here, the track is planned to have a narrow uphill traversal and then circle the Old City before opening up onto a 2.2 km stretch along Neftchilar Avenue back to the start line. The circuit is projected to be the fastest street circuit in the world and the second longest circuit on the current F1 calendar behind the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium which currently is the longest circuit on calendar. It is expected that lap times in the 1 minute 40 seconds will be achieved during the Formula One event.

The capital city of the oil-rich nation of Azerbaijan has a PR strategy to match a Hollywood celebrity. Hosting sporting events is a tried and tested way of putting a city on the map and last year Baku held the inaugural European Games to get the ball rolling. The "Grand Prix of Europe" is now set to call Baku home for the next seven years, but it remains to be seen whether the race is a success or goes the way of Korea and India. The official name of the grand prix also tells you everything you need to know about the motivation behind the expenditure as Azerbaijan, which straddles the geographical divide between Europe and Asia, attempts to position itself as a tourist and commerce destination for the West.


Track length : 6.003 kilometers
Race distance : 51 laps (306 kilometers)
Corners : 20 corners in total
Aerodynamic setup : Medium downforce
Top speed : 350km/h (projected)
Total time needed for pit stop at 80km/h : 24 seconds

For an interactive guide to the circuit, F1Fanatic has a fantastic post on it here.

It is not like anything seen before in F1 as most of the corners are low speed, but the straights are long and fast. This calls for two completely different downforce configurations. It will reward cars with good mechanical grip, like Mercedes and Red Bull and with plenty of engine power like Ferrari and Mercedes.

The widest part of the track is 13m, while the narrowest section, between Turns 7 and 8, is just 7.6m. Turn 8 will also be the slowest corner on the track, with an expected apex speed of 53mph. The Baku track is also expected to have an extremely high average speed for a street circuit. This is largely because of the rapid sequence of flowing corners in the final sector that form part of the 2.1km (1.5-mile) main straight, where drivers are expected to be on full throttle for over 20 seconds and hit 350km/h.


The Baku City Circuit may have a few surprises in store for the Formula One teams this weekend but it seems the weather will not. Consistently warm temperatures are expected over the next three days, potentially reaching 30C on Saturday and Sunday. The first day of practice is expected to see a lot of cloud cover which will keep temperatures from getting too high. A fairly strong breeze from the north will also cool things down.

On Saturday the wind will drop, the clouds will break up and temperatures will climb in time for qualifying which begins at 5pm local time. With sunset arriving at around 8:15pm the sun will be fairly low at this point, which given the number of tall buildings in close proximity to the track could create challenging visibility conditions for drivers as they pass in and out of strong sunlight.

Some weather agencies are reporting a low risk of light rain around the time of the race on Sunday, but the general consensus is that conditions will remain dry. Baku typically sees only a few days of rain during June.


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 nominated tyres are:

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.

Pirelli Motorsport boss Paul Hembery has admitted concerns over the Baku City circuit which this weekend hosts the Grand Prix of Europe.

"Long straights can create standing wave issues. It seems to be a circuit that shouldn't be too dramatic, but it has that straight, so we have to be very careful on that in terms of what's going on with the standing wave management. If you go to a new circuit, it can throw up some surprises. The tendency to new circuits in recent years is smooth surfaces with very low levels of wear, but there is quite an aggressive straight and standing wave is something we have to manage, so there is an aspect of tyre integrity that we have to monitor well."


There will be two DRS zones this weekend, one on the approach to Turn 1 and one on the straight coming into Turn 3, while McLaren has highlighted the “deceptively fast” Turn 15 as a key corner as it is lined with close barriers.


Before a car turns a wheel on the new track there are a few observations that can be made. It is a street track and given the high speeds in parts of the track, it’s likely that we will see a Safety Car. This is especially true because, as a new event care will have to be taken to give the marshals time to deal with incidents.


Here's how the circuit actually looks like in a moving car.


It looks very much like Mercedes will enjoy a margin this weekend. It is also a high fuel consumption circuit, so there will be some fuel management to be done. While many would have expected Lewis Hamilton to make inroads into the 43-point lead Nico Rosberg built up over the first four races, few would have expected Rosberg to throw away almost all of his advantage in just two rounds. In a straight fight this year Hamilton has usually been the quicker of the two, so it’s down to Rosberg to raise his game.

We have no idea what to expect really from this race. Could there be a smash up at the tightest part? I certainly think so with eager F1 drivers giving no quarters. Will Mercedes outdrag everybody on the longest straight in F1? Probably. Will the field be spread out after just a few laps? Looks like it. Whatever it is, it's always exciting to go to a new track.

If you enjoyed this posting, please do share it with your network so more people can enjoy it as well. Also, check out my Lewis Hamilton inspired designs at my online shop. Unique, personal Triple F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton inspired designs for the loyal Lewis Hamilton fan. Support Lewis this season by owning this collection. Get yours now!

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Saturday, June 11, 2016


The Canadian Grand Prix (known in French as the Grand Prix du Canada), abbreviated as gpc, is an annual auto race held in Canada starting in 1961. It has been part of the Formula One World Championship since 1967. It was first staged at Mosport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario as a sports car event before it alternated between Mosport and Circuit Mont-Tremblant, Quebec after Formula One took over the event. After 1971, safety concerns led to the Grand Prix moving permanently to Mosport.

In 1978, after similar safety concerns with Mosport, the Canadian Grand Prix moved to its current home at the Circuit Giles Villeneuve on Île Notre-Dame in Montreal. In 2005, the Canadian Grand Prix was the most watched Formula One GP in the world. The race was also the third most watched sporting event worldwide, behind the first place Super Bowl XXXIX and the UEFA Champions League Final.

F1 returns to Montreal this weekend for the running of the 2016 Canadian Grand Prix. One of the more popular and hotly anticipated races on the F1 calendar, the tight, street circuit feel, coupled with a design for high speed and overtaking down its long straights, has produced many memorable races and individual performances over the years. Add to this the fantastic atmosphere produced by the always friendly, knowledgeable and enthusiastic Canadian crowd, and we have a race weekend that you certainly won’t want to miss.

With a combination of long straights, numerous chicanes and the close proximity of barriers to the track, the Montreal circuit places stress on engines and brakes as well as driver concentration. The track itself is bumpy and generally low grip, due to the fact that it is rarely used outside of the grand prix weekend. With the lack of long corners and emphasis on traction, tyre wear around Montreal is relatively low. Thanks to the configuration of the Montreal track, overtaking tended to be easier on it than at most circuits.


Track length : 4.36 kilometers
Race distance : 70 laps (305 kilometers)
Corners : 12 corners in total made up of straights, chicanes and a hairpin
Aerodynamic setup : Medium downforce
Top speed : 326km/h (with Dag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 316km/h without
Full throttle : 60% of the lap (quite high, 15 seconds unbroken full throttle on main straight)
Time spent braking : 17% of lap (high, 7 braking zones)
Brake wear : Very High
Total time needed for pit stop at 80km/h : 18.8 seconds

The key stat about Montreal is that it’s the least important pole position of the season. This means that, more often than not, things do not got according to plan in Montreal. Since 2000 the pole sitter has enjoyed a conversion rate to race victory of just 35%. And add in the fact that this year there are three tyre compounds to choose from and the softest one is not capable of giving you a one-stop strategy and you have what looks to be an entertaining weekend ahead.


Montreal is experiencing cool, almost autumnal conditions ahead of this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix. Although it is forecast to become warmer over the coming days the race itself could see some showers.

A low pressure weather system is keeping the air chilly in Montreal at present – a peak of just 17C is forecast on Thursday. However that will improve over the coming days with outbreaks of sunshine pushing temperatures to 20C during practice on Friday and 24C for qualifying on Saturday.

Following showers on Thursday the rain should stay away for the first two days of track action. That may change on Sunday, however, giving us the possibility of a second consecutive rain-affected race.

At present it is unclear whether the rain will arrive during the race or, as some forecasts indicate, fall earlier in the morning of race day. However it is expected to be a much cooler day on Sunday, with temperatures closer to that seen on Thursday, and quite a bit cooler than last year’s peak of 22C during the grand prix.


Just two weeks after the debut of the new P Zero Purple ultrasoft tyre in Monaco, it appears again as part of exactly the same nomination for Canada: soft, supersoft and ultrasoft. Canada however will present a number of different challenges to Monaco, with notably higher speeds and higher loads that generate more temperature and put increased energy through the tyres.

Tyre options are:

1. Yellow soft: the hardest compound in the selection, poised to play an important role in the race.
2. Red supersoft: two teams have interestingly chosen not to nominate this compound at all.
3. Purple ultrasoft: very popular on its Monaco debut and chosen extensively in Canada.

Paul Hembery: "In Canada there's the potential for some quite mixed weather conditions, as we also saw in Monaco, so this could make it a very complex race as has often been the case in the past. The compounds that we have nominated mean that there is plenty of scope for strategy, on a circuit where it's definitely possible to overtake on the track as well. The ultrasoft made its mark when it first appeared in Monaco but Canada is a very different type of circuit with more demands on tyres. This could lead to a number of different tactics coming into play, as evidenced from the tyre choices made by each team prior to the race."


There are two DRS zones to look out for in Montreal. The detection area for the first DRS zone is after Turn 9 in the leadup to the hairpin at Turn 10. The first DRS zone is then on the long straight after Turn 12, while the second DRS zone follows immediately after the chicane at Turns 13 and 14.


The chances of a safety car at Montreal are very high at 60%. Eight of the last 12 Canadian Grands Prix have featured at least one safety car. This is because, with the track lined with walls and several blind corners, there are frequent accidents and the conditions for the marshals when clearing debris from an accident are dangerous. Montreal has the highest rate of Safety Car deployments per race of any circuit bar Singapore.


Montreal is a race that tends to feature close finishes, according to F1 statistician Virtual Statman. In the last 13 runnings of the Canadian GP, eight of them have been won by a margin of less than three seconds.

Lewis Hamilton made another piece of history in Monaco as he moves closer to some all time great records. His win meant that he has now won at least one race in each of the last 10 consecutive seasons. Only Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher have achieved that. He has also now led 87 different Grands Prix, more than Ayrton Senna and second only to Michael Schumacher who led 142 races. Hamilton is closing in on Senna’s tally of 65 pole positions, he is now on 52.

Hamilton is the form man at Montreal with four wins there. He is also chasing a front row start there for the fifth season in a row. Red Bull and Mercedes are now tied on 58 pole positions each, so the battle on Saturday should be intense.


The Mercedes team will be very wary of the increased threat posed by Red Bull, but will rely on their dominant power unit to keep them clear of the pack in Canada. This is one of Lewis Hamilton’s favourite circuits, having taken his first victory here in 2007 and reaching the top step three times since.

This could be a race where we see a wide variety of different strategies, like China were 13 finishers used all three Pirelli tyre compounds. Montreal is a strange track and the temperature fluctuations in any given day are as big as any venue on the calendar. This can often catch people out. There is some rain forecast for Sunday, with Friday and Saturday likely to escape the rain, but the prevailing temperatures are low. This could lead some teams to have issues with tyre warm up, especially in qualifying and at the start of a race stint after a pit stop.

If you enjoyed this posting, please do share it with your network so more people can enjoy it as well. Also, check out my Lewis Hamilton inspired designs at my online shop. Unique, personal Triple F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton inspired designs for the loyal Lewis Hamilton fan. Support Lewis this season by owning this collection. Get yours now!

1. Hamilton Tees (fixed designs) -
2. Lewis Hamilton T-shirt (design your own) -

Thank you for your support. May you enjoy it with this new season and your favorite team/driver wins!

Here is a sample.