Renault Sport F1 didn’t have the best weekend in Canada but then they didn’t have the best weekend in Monaco either. Fact is, the team look to reverse their fortunes in a brand new circuit at Bak this weekend and why not? It’s a new track for everyone.
The team’s chief brain and technical director, Nick Chester, says:
What can we do to prepare for a new circuit?
We use a map of the circuit and overlay a racing line and from there we perform all our simulations for downforce and drag levels. From this we can calculate some elements for set-up.
We also usually receive track surface information from Pirelli who do a ranking of what the surface is like in terms of macro and micro roughness, which also helps our understanding of how the tyres will work.
What are the particular challenges of Baku?
It looks a very power-sensitive track with a lot of sharp corners and then decent straights, particularly the long one leading back to the start/finish line. Traction will also be very important out of the slower speed corners. We will discover the track in real time for the first time during our trackwalk on Thursday and see if there are any bumps and kerbs to look out for.
Where are we with our hunger for chassis?
Indeed, we have been a bit hungry… Kevin’s chassis was damaged on Saturday morning in Canada and came back to the UK on Monday for repair. We are reviewing the damage but I am sure we will see it again for race action later in the season.
How do you assess how extensive the damage is?
A visual assessment is a first stop, but beyond that we use a process called ultrasonic testing (NDT), which shows precisely which parts might have de-bonded, to enable us to determine how extensive the damage is and if it can be repaired or consigned to recycling.
Why did we struggle in Canada?
We struggled making the tyres work in the very cool track temperatures; we struggled a bit in low speed corners and Kevin didn’t get a great run in the race, unfortunately. Jolyon was also unfortunate as he suffered from a water leak. We’ve identified what caused this and are doing everything possible to ensure we don’t see a repeat of this. It was a real shame for Jolyon as he was happy with his car and should have gone well.
What are the positives heading to Baku?
The weather forecast is good for Baku with hot temperatures so we shouldn’t face as much of a challenge getting the tyres into the temperature operating range. That said, it’s a new surface where there will be a lot of evolution over the weekend so we’ll have our work cut out nevertheless. There are a lot of walls we will want to stay clear of, that’s for sure! A new venue offers new opportunities. We have a strong baseline set-up and both cars have the B specification power unit so we’re certainly looking forward to getting stuck in.
Power Unit facts
Baku is the most power sensitive track of the year so far, even more so than Montreal. Any extra power will make a noticeable impact on lap time owing to the long periods of wide open throttle.
Around 55% of the track will be at wide open throttle. The majority of the last sector will be flat out, from Turn 16 to the braking point for Turn 1. Drivers will be on the throttle for a total of 22secs through this sector.
Baku is on the limit for fuel usage. It is expected that drivers will have to incorporate around 2% fuel saving to stay within the 100kg limit. Canada was in the region of 6%.
The driver will be on the brakes for approximately 20% of the lap, giving the energy recovery systems ample opportunity to recharge the battery.
The track is middle of the road for downforce levels, making cornering speeds approximately equivalent to Sochi (around 100 – 150kph).
Lap time expected to be around 1min 42secs in qualifying and an average of 1min 45secs in the race.