Formula One: Tyres available in Baku

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Ahead of the Grand Prix of Europe from Baku Pirelli have confirmed the remaining tyre allocation available to drivers for the race.

With a one stop race expected and increased running from drivers to familiarise themselves with the circuit, new tyre availability is minimal. Teams are expected to adopt a one stop strategy in the race with most starting on the Supersoft compound then changing to the mandatory Soft tyre at around 1/3rd race distance.

However, as seen in qualifying and free practice many drivers have struggled with braking points through around the circuit resulting in heavy flat spotting. Should this occur in the race additional pitstops will be required and with so few fresh tyres available drivers may be forced to run the Medium compound tyre.

Drivers such as Button and Hulkenberg arguably out of position have a wealth of fresh tyres available to them which may encourage them to consider an alternative strategy.

Commenting on likely strategy Pirelli remarked:

“The teams obviously have limited data regarding Baku, so there is less information than usual on which to base strategy calculations. However, a one-stop seems to be clearly the best option. The top 10 will all start on used supersoft, and we would expect them to move onto the soft on lap 22 (of 51). If starting on the soft, the time to switch to supersoft is lap 29. However, strategies will have to be flexible, as there appears to be a high likelihood of a safety car.”

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director adds:

“We saw an action-packed qualifying session, where the lack of experience and lack of grip on this new circuit was a key factor, causing a few surprises. The supersoft was used from start to finish, but the fresh asphalt meant that there was little grip on offer, and the track was evolving all the time. As a result it was an exciting session, which suggests also that there could be a high probability of a safety car tomorrow, as we saw in the GP2 race earlier. While a one-stop strategy is clearly the way forward, there are some good opportunities to have on this rapid circuit, which combines the unpredictability of a street circuit with the possibility to overtake and move up the field.”

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Formula One: Baku – Anyone’s Race?

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Nico Rosberg may have claimed pole position for the inaugural Grand Prix of Europe from Baku, but the race for the top step is far from over.

The street circuit, featuring a 2,2km flat out section followed by the tightest series of corners on the F1 calender only a few moments later has proved to be a truly unique challenge for drivers and engineers. In the quest for ultimate top speed teams have been forced into a low downforce set up leaving cars on the absolute edge. This coupled with high pressured , hard compound tyres from Pirelli, alongside a number of niggling 1st race issues around the Baku venue gives us a thrilling Grand Prix in prospect.

The attrition rate seen in the GP2 feature race hinted at the spectacle we can expect in the F1 race. Overtaking is possible all over the circuit, T1 the most common. Run off zones whilst small are just about large enough for drivers to force competitors into them without risk of penalty. All in all, the F1 race really could be anyone’s. Judging by the GP2 race pole position or running in first place could actually work against a driver, expect oval racing levels of slipstreaming and overtaking along the main straight.

With this in mind bookmakers have been surprisingly generous in the odds being offered on drivers in the top ten.  It’s hard to pick out one specific driver to follow for the race, so I’m suggesting 5!

Lewis Hamilton -Dominated the weekend until  a shocker in qualifying, starting 10th on the grid. He is in the fastest car and Mercedes have introduced a low downforce wing which should mitigate the issues the team have had running in traffic in earlier races this season.  Winner odds 3/1

Sergio Perez – Second only to Nico Rosberg in qualifying. A gearbox penalty drops him to 7th on the grid, but after a podium in Monaco, and rumours of Ferrari considering him for 2017, Perez will be eager to impress. A great offering of 40/1 – consider an each way bet

Kimi Raikkonen – Yes Vettel out-qualified him, but he has been quietly doing his thing around Baku, and has engaged reverse far fewer times than his competitors this weekend. Also offering at 40/1

Max Verstappen / Carlos Saniz – How bold are you feeling? If Baku is to be a race of attrition, which may expect it will be. Max showed the world in Canada how calm he can be under pressure, at 80/1 the return could be great! More out there, but an even greater opportunity, Sainz. Arguably driver of the day in the last few races. With a new contract under his belt Saniz could be a great outside bet and a huge pay day at 500/1! Are you feeling bold?

Check out these odds and more at William Hill.

Finally, don’t forget to check out the live IN-PLAY odds available during F1 Races. In a race of attrition there could be some special odds availble for the fast fingered. To find out more about IN PLAY odds, check out my feature here.

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Formula One: Catching up with Giancarlo Fisichella

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Giancarlo Fisichella, the last Italian driver to see the podium of an F1 race back in 2009 in a spectacular Belgian Grand Prix with saw him finish second for Force India. The race will be remembered not only for a questionable move Kimi Räikkönen pulled on Fisichella to take the win, but also as a race in which Giancarlo was all but announced as a Ferrari driver for the following event before the race had even finished!

It must be the dream of every Italian in motorsport to get the call from the Scuderia. With Ferrari suffering a torrid 2009, struggling with regulation changes and working with reserve drivers following the terrifying accident for Felipe Massa in Hungary. The prospect of an Italian podium finisher making his début for the team at the Italian Grand Prix was exactly the good news story the team needed.  Giancarlo leapt at the chance to join the team despite being fully aware his 2009 prospects would be minimal. His mind has possibly already moved on from Formula One. After 14 years in the sport he was ready for a new challenge. Joining the Ferrari family was exactly that.

In this film from Mobil One The Grid we catch up with Giancarlo Fisichella and his life after Formula One.

For a real-time view of Giancarlo Fisichella’s life with Ferrari, he is currently in 2nd position in the GTE-Pro class in his Ferrari 488 at the Le Mans 24hrs.

Formula One: Grand Prix of Europe preview

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Formula One arrives in Baku this weekend for the 8th round of the 2016 Formula One World Championship. The Grand Prix of Europe, takes the form of a high speed street circuit in which cars are expected to exceed 340 KMPH. The circuit at just over 6km is the second longest on the F1 calender. The race will take place over 51 laps.

The track surface is made up of a variation of new and temporary tarmac (covering cobbles for in the old town section of the circuit for the race weekend only) tyre degradation is expected to be minimal. Despite this expectation, since the circuit is new Pirelli have opted to supply teams with the medium compound range of tyres. It can be expected future events will use softer compounds. Team tyre compound selection has focused on the softest compounds available.

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With excessive straights followed by a series of tight low speed corners car set-up is likely to be somewhat of a compromise. Teams will be looking to run minimal downforce to ensure maximum speed on the straights whilst ensuring the car is controllable in the low speed sections, as a friend pointed out earlier today, these elements of the circuit are not dissimilar to the old Hockenheimring.

Teams with advanced simulators are likely to arrive at the circuit with a strong baseline set up, others may require much of Friday running to find the optimal approach to the circuit.

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Formula One: Vettel flouts tobacco advertising laws

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Scuderia Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel is known to enjoy pushing the boundaries of regulations not impacting racing which he deems to be unnecessary. An exaple of this being the FIA mandate introduced in 2015 stating drivers are unable to change helmet design through a season. A regulation which has seen Vettel use 7 slightly different designs so far in 2016.

Pictured here during the track parade for the  2016 Canadian Grand Prix, Vettel defies regulations again, this time with his iPhone cover. Despite tobacco advertising being prohibited in Formula One for a number of years, Philip Morris International (Marlboro) remain the principle partner of Scuderia Ferrari. The partnership has explored numerous ways around the ban through adapting logo designs to mimic the iconic Marlboro logo and exploring subliminal messaging through barcode designs instead of Marlboro wording. The partnership seeks to make Marlboro synonymous with the Scuderia.

Vettel has taken this one step further in clearly showing the Marlboro brand whilst using his phone during an official Formula One session. Use of the logo in the public situation may not have been deliberate, but will no doubt lead to questions around whether of not the act constitutes advertising.

Formula One: 2 punctures for Rosberg in Canada

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Sources within Pirelli have confirmed that Nico Rosberg suffered 2 punctures in the laps preceding his second pitstop on lap 51 of the Canadian Grand Prix. The cause of both punctures has been identified as debris damaging the tyre.

The first puncture is understood to have been relatively minor leading to a slow loss of pressure, the second more substantial resulting in a rapid loss of pressure thus requiring immediate serving of car number 6.

Some parties have questioned Mercedes decision to service Nico with a set of Soft tyres in his second (unplanned) stop on lap 51. With only 19 laps to go both the Super Soft and the Ultra Soft compound could have completed the race distance. However as this article indicates, going into the race Nico had no fresh Ultra Soft tyres available, it is unlikely a used set of Ultra Soft compound tyres would have completed the race distance. The decision not to run the red Super Soft tyres will have been down to the issues Nico was managing in the car around fuel consumption and brakes. A tyre with greater performance could have led to greater issues in the closing stages of the race.

Commenting on Nico’s struggles Paddy Lowe remarked:

“For Nico, a late puncture[s] forced a second stop. It looks like he also collected some debris in one of his radiators, as he had overheating throughout the race. While this may not necessarily have affected his performance, it would have been quite a big distraction to manage. A podium was a possibility for him today – but unfortunately it didn’t work out”

Adding to this Nico himself commented on his race:

“I did my best to fight back and I there was a chance of a podium – but then I got the puncture and had to pit again – dammit! I was pushing hard after that to regain the positions but it was a massive mission managing the car with brake warnings coming on and running low on fuel.”

Pirelli went on to confirm that of the drivers that did manage to successfully complete the race on a single stop strategy; Hamilton, Bottas and Alonso. Did so well within the life of the soft compound tyre. Whilst confirmation of the number of laps it could be expected the tyres would have completed beyond race distance remains confidential Pirelli confirm no driver was near the limit of the life of the tyre.

 

Formula One: All the stats and tyre facts from the Canadian Grand Prix

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The Canadian Grand Prix got underway in some of the coldest conditions seen recently during a race weekend, with track temperatures of just 20 degrees centigrade: putting the accent on tyre warm-up and management. There was a wide variety of one and two stop strategies, with polesitter Lewis Hamilton stopping just once in his Mercedes, but holding off the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel, which stopped twice, having beaten Hamilton off the line to lead into the first corner.

Hamilton made his sole stop on lap 24, re-emerging in second place behind Vettel. Once Vettel made his second stop, he had a six-second deficit to try and make up to Hamilton in 33 laps, using soft tyres that were 13 laps younger than those on the Mercedes.

Despite the cold conditions, Nico Rosberg set the fastest lap of the race on the soft tyre, 10 laps from the end, lapping his Mercedes 1.4 seconds quicker than the 2015 fastest lap, which was set on supersoft.

Valtteri Bottas took the first podium of the season for Williams by using a similar strategy to Hamilton, while the remainder of the top 10 stopped twice, after starting on the ultrasoft – the fastest compound by around 0.6s per lap.

An alternative strategy was run by Force India’s Sergio Perez, who started on the soft tyre and completed a long first stint of 31 laps before making his sole stop for supersofts. The most impressive climber was Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz, who used a two-stop strategy (finishing the race on the rapid ultrasoft) to end up ninth, after starting 20th on the grid.

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “Thanks to differing race strategies, we saw a grandstand finish, with the two-stopping Vettel closing in on the one-stopping Hamilton. Cool track temperatures made tyre management crucial, with some teams also switching strategies as it became clear that this might be quicker. Most drivers in fact stopped twice, compared to the one-stop race last year in Canada. Key to making a one-stopper work was looking after the tyres as effectively as possible, which Hamilton and Bottas both did brilliantly.”

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Formula One: VIDEO Rosberg – Massively Frustrated

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Heading home a mere 2 hours after the conclusion of the Canadian Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg talks through a frustrating race which saw him come home in 5th place. With team mate Lewis Hamilton winning the race, Nico’s championship lead has now been reduced to only 9 points.

Rosberg talks through what he felt was an aggressive move from Lewis at the start into turn one, which forced Nico to possibly work stress the W07 in order to maximise results for the day. This lead to issues with braking, excessive tyre wear and running extremely low on fuel in the closing stages of the event. In conclusion a massively frustrating race.

Nico will now have two days at home before ahead out to Baku for the inaugural Grand Prix of Europe.

Formula One: Tyres available for Montreal

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Pirelli have released a handy info-graphic explaining the tyres drivers have available for the Canadian Grand Prix today.

The graphic splits availability between new and used compounds.

The lack of new ultra soft tyres available for Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull and Williams further supports the theory that a single stop strategy will be the most likely approach to the race should conditions be dry.

Drivers qualifying in the top ten must start the race on the tyres they their completed fastest laps in Q2 with. Non of these drivers have a second set of Ultra Soft tyres available for the race.

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Formula One: The race to Baku

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A mere 8 hours after the conclusion of today’s Canadian Grand Prix, all teams will be required to have completed race equipment pack up and have all containers ready to be shipped to Baku ahead of the inaugural Grand Prix of Europe, taking place in Azerbaijan next weekend.

In order to meet this deadline, many teams will begin the pack up process as soon as the race gets under way later today. With mixed conditions forecast teams will be hopeful they do not see a repeat of the 2011 event which due to severe weather conditions saw the race take place over a 4 hour period including a 2 hour red flag period, such scheduling will play havoc with teams planning for the following race.

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The Haas F1 Team have prepared a number of handy info graphics to illustrate the challenges of the second race taking place in Montreal today.

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Traditionally organisers of a new Grand Prix would look to have a minimum of a two week gap between the previous race and their own event. As such it is some what of an anomaly for FOM (Formula One Management) to schedule a Grand Prix at a new location at the tail of back to back races. Teams will be heavily reliant on the Baku infrastructure being 100% prepared to receive them and for there to be no issues in the release of goods from airports. As such many teams have sent crew’s to Baku a week ahead of the race itself.

In a bid to minimise the pressure or risk around set up delays many teams have elected to ship secondary equipment to Baku directly.

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Still the challenge remains to get a crew of around 80 team personnel  10,300 KM from Montreal to Baku in the shortest possible time. There will be little opportunity from team celebrations post race today.

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JWGP will give a bag of jelly babies to the first team to tweet from Baku with the garage set up with the cars in place!