Formula One 2017 Track Guide: Europe

The newest addition on the Formula One calendar, the Baku City Circuit plays host to the European Grand Prix.

Whilst the European race is nothing new, the Azerbaijani capital hosted its inaugural race last year, won by retiring world champion, Nico Rosberg for Mercedes.

A controversial inclusion, the circuit - designed by Hermann Tilke - is placed in the heart of the city and passes through some beautiful architecture. Additionally, Baku boasts the tightest corner of the season, the castle section of Turns 8 and 9.

Rosberg won the opening race last year. | Photo: Getty Images/Peter J Fox
Rosberg won the opening race last year. | Photo: Getty Images/Peter J Fox

Last year's race weekend also proved to be a record-breaker, with Valtteri Bottas hitting a top speed of 235 miles per hour in Qualifying, down the enormous, 1.4 mile long pit straight - surpassing Antonio Pizzonia's 229.7 mph, hit during the 2004 Italian Grand Prix, as the highest ever officially clocked top speed in F1 history. Coincidentally, both speeds were set in a Williams.

The timing of last year's race came under intense scrutiny, due to the event being held on the same weekend as the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans; usually the prestigious endurance race is given a weekend of its own. Due to the omission of the German Grand Prix for 2017, that problem ceases to exist this year.

Track layout

The pit straight is very long, open the DRS and watch the speed go up and up and up, surpassing 225 mph for most cars. The braking zone for Turn 1 comes immediately after the start/finish line and leads into the first turn in a series of 90 degree corners, giving the first sector a box-like image, as it circles the Government House. Third gear, clip the kerb on the exit and keep to the right hand side of the track for the next corner, an exact copy of the first. Brake at 100 metres, get the exit spot on and open the DRS for the next straight.

Just before the 100 metre board, move back down to third gear for yet another right-angled left hand turn. Sweep to the left hand side of the tarmac in order to get the best entry for Turn 4, the first right hander on the circuit.

First sector over, pick your braking point for the tight left-right chicane of 5 and 6. Don't cut the corner and invalidate your lap time, but try to carry as much speed as possible. A heavy braking zone is next for a right hander, that's almost a mini hairpin turn.

Single file please. | Photo: Getty Images/Charles Coates
Single file please; the castle section. | Photo: Getty Images/Charles Coates

Once that's been negotiated, the tightest part on the calendar is next. Watch the speed, find your turn-in point and thread past the castle, rise up the hill before turning to the right at the crest. A slow left opens up onto a short straight, followed by two absolutely flat-out right handers, with drivers reaching around 180 mph for another big braking zone.

Turn 15 is another angular left, with Turn 16 similar to it. That's the last time you touch the brakes, as you build speed, passing the Maiden Tower on your right, sweeping right, left and then right again - all full throttle in Qualifying trim - before you rejoin the uber long straight. Although it may be one of the more consistent tracks of the season, don't let your concentration slip for a moment, as sector two is very demanding.

A lot of the final sector is spent at full throttle. | Photo: Wikipedia
A lot of the final sector is spent at full throttle. | Photo: Wikipedia


Most wins for a driver: Nico Rosberg - 1

Most wins for a constructor: Mercedes - 1

Lap Record: 1:46.485 - Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 2016

Did you know?

The race organisers were shoved into the spotlight, after Bottas' Williams dislodged a drain cover in Saturday morning Practice, with workers having to weld said obstacle down.