Grand Prix 2016 European Grand Prix Practice, Qualifying & Race Discussion

As if to highlight the madness of a 21 race calendar, no sooner have the champagne bubbles dried on the Montreal podium and every team will be frantically packing to have their gear sent 5552 miles around the world to Baku in Azerbaijan. This must be without doubt the longest distance between back to back races in F1 history.

Azerbaijan is located in the Transcaucasia region between south west Asia and south eastern Europe. With a population of 10 million people it has a high rate of economic development and ranks on par with many European countries for human development, literacy and living standards. Baku is the capital of Azerbaijan, sitting on the Caspian sea is a UNESCO world heritage site. A city that has grown through the discovery of oil, it is now home to over a fifth of the population of the country.

Quite how this race came to be given the European Grand Prix tag, I'm not quite sure. Azerbaijan did win the 2011 Eurovision song contest so this may have had something to do with it but we'll never now. If that is the case, we may expect the European GP tag to be awarded to Australia at some point in the future.

The name 'Grand Prix of Europe' was given to races as an honorific title originating in 1925 and from 1950 onward, specifically in Formula 1. That was until 1983 when, at the 11th hour, Bernie was once again let down by the organising team of the New York Grand Prix. Brands Hatch circuit were able to step in with 3 months notice and thus that years calendar contained the first 'stand alone' GP of Europe. The event itself was deemed a major success and so the decision was made to continue with an event given that title. For 84 the race moved to a re-designed Nurburgring before moving back to Brands Hatch in 85 for the last but one F1 race to be held there. For a short while, Europe's once again dropped from the schedule to be replaced by Hungary. It then reappeared to be held at a rain soaked Donington park in 1994. Moving between Jerez, the Nurburgring and finally the much loathed Valencia, the race has finally ended up at Baku for this season. What makes this unusual is that normally the European GP title was given to the second race to be held in a country in a calendar year.

The track itself at 6km long is the second longest of the season after Spa. It winds its way through the old town of Baku and through some insanely narrow sections. It also contains a 2.2km straight before the start finish line. Everyone's favourite circuit designer Herman Tilke has been behind the pencil on this project. Supposedly designed to be the fastest street circuit in the world, what the lap times will be like here are anyone's guess. Expect the grip to be non existent for the best part of the weekend until the cars lay some rubber into the track. I would imagine there will be plenty of scenes of damaged carbon fibre, especially on Friday.

As for the teams, it looks like this is going to be a power circuit. Judging by their respective performances in Canada, Mercedes should have the advantage here but it's clear that Ferrari and Red Bull are now hot on their heels. With Bottas also putting in a decent shift at Montreal and the Mercedes engine in the back of his Williams, a fourth team enters the mix when it comes to belting down that insanely long straight. Nimble handling will be required around the narrow twist section between turns 5 and 13 so a well balanced car could make up some ground here.

It's almost impossible to predict anything beyond that. As I said above, the low level of initial grip, the new circuit layout and the fact that Canada has shown that the Mercedes lead is no longer as totally dominant as it once was, could see an almighty dust up or it could lead to a snooze-fest. For those who don't pay Murdoch's sport viewing ransom, the race will be shown live on C4. I'm not sure about everyone else but I'm actually looking forward to it.
How will jet lag affect this race I wonder ?
Times are interesting for this GP, as if you take the body clock for a GP driver and assume they're based on UK time, for the Montreal GP they'd have been 5 hours early, were as for Baku it'll be 3 hours later so an 8 hour shift (in the space of a week), or the equivalent of the difference when flying the Japan (8 hours difference).

It also depends on how long they stayed in Canada before & after the race, they typically say it takes your body 1 day to get used to a 1 hour time zone change, so you fly to Montreal from the UK, it would take around 5 days for your body to in effect sync with the local time zone. It's the same flying back, coming home from Canada it would take 5 days to get your body back to a UK time.

I would assume though most GP drivers are accustomed to the changing time zones, me personally when working in the USA or Canada for a few days, I stayed on UK times, so woke at 3am local and went to bed at around 7/8pm. Not sure a GP driver could do this, driving in a race from 7pm to 9pm based on a UK body clock.

But an interesting concept, what would happen to a GP driver coming in braking area for a tight corner and they start to yawn, miss the apex? But then again as we saw in Montreal with Seb & Lewis chatting before the Podium ceremony, Seb talked about the seagulls and watching them whilst on the main straight, these blokes are superstars in missiles, I assume a timezone would have little effect.....
But jet lag affects the entire team. You need to be sharp to keep the cars on the track and safe.
The very narrow corner at the castle looks fun. Beautiful city, I want to visit now after watching this.
I always look forward to a new circuit. Hopefully we get some good racing.

Last edited:
Courtesy of Wiki here's the circuit map:

Longest distance between back to back F1 races? Not even close.

In 2010, the Brazil and Abu Dhabi races were back to back. The distance between them is 12,133 km. Montreal to Baku is "only" 8,900 km. Also in 1994, Suzuka and Adelaide were a week apart and they're 7,800 km.
Why does the right hand side of the circuit resemble a machete whilst the left hand side is a deflated balloon? Having said that turns 12 to 15 could be interesting, almost Turkeyresque.
Why does the right hand side of the circuit resemble a machete whilst the left hand side is a deflated balloon?

Yes not hard to work out which bit is the old town eh? I thought it looked a bit like a hand-held electronic whisk with a meringue blob hanging off the blades.

Meringue uguhuguhguguguh
Would be interesting to see the odds on the following :-

First driver to pile it into the wall...
Number of safety cars during the race...
Number of red lights during each session...
Chance of race completing without interruption...

I somehow doubt they have managed to get to the stage of Monaco where they have many many years of experience of where to position the cranes and how to move cars without delay. This is going to be slightly oily tarmac (even worse if there is any moisture in the air) and a new track to all drivers. I would be surprised on current form for some of the drivers if we have all cars starting the race...
Top Bottom