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Baku GP: Preview – What The Drivers Say

This weekend sees the Formula 1 teams arrive in Azerbaijan for the Baku GP, a city that is apparently one of the most beautiful cities of the world, even if the capital is located a record 28 metres below sea level, which makes it the lowest lying national capital in the world and also the largest city in the world located below sea level.

We catch up with what the Drivers had to say from the Italian teams; Scuderia Ferrari and Alfa Romeo Racing…

Scuderia Ferrari: “In Baku to do well”

Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc spent their Thursday in Baku splitting their time between talking to media, having meetings with the engineers and walking the track. The two Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow drivers walked round the street circuit here in the Azerbaijan capital, before the first full planning meeting with engineers and technicians prior to the start of track action tomorrow.

Ready to do well. Sebastian Vettel was first up in front of the press, telling them he was set for a busy Friday. “We have some updates that we will have to test and evaluate to decide if they can help us get the results we’re expecting.” As to the topic of their chances of fighting for the championship title, the German had no doubts about it. “We are still in the hunt. In the first three races, things did not go as we had expected and so maybe the competition got a bit more than they deserved, while we got a bit less. But we are working to turn things around. I still believe we have a very competitive package and if we manage to make it work properly we can be very quick and make life difficult for our rivals.”

This track has always smiled on me. Next up it was Charles Leclerc’s turn to face the media in the team hospitality and he began by repeating the fact he loves the Baku track. “I adore all the street circuits and I have to say that this one has always smiled on me, both in Formula 2 and Formula 1, as it was here last year that I scored my first points.” The Monegasque driver expects to be competitive this weekend and is aiming for the win, even if he insists he’s not obsessed with the idea of taking his first Formula 1 win. “If I have a goal, then it’s simply to do a good job, to work on getting everything out of the car and bring home the best result I can. Of course, I’m not saying I’m not impatient to take my first win at this the highest level, but I also know it’s wrong to focus more on the win than on doing the work. We will start like that and I am convinced we can get the results we are after.”

Alfa Romeo Racing:

Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal Alfa Romeo Racing and CEO Sauber Motorsport AG:
“I normally don’t spend much time in overanalyzing previous races – I look forward and work hard on how we can come back even stronger – but after three races it makes sense to reflect on our performance so far. We’ve scored points, which is great, the car showed great potential, but at the same time we faced some technical issues and tricky situations. Kimi is doing a great job, his feedback to engineers is as precise as it can be and as soon as he sits in the car he gets the job done. Antonio so far couldn’t show his real potential, but that’s completely down to the team. Some technical issues and therefore missed track time meant that he could never get comfortable and get the best out of the car, but especially in Australia in Q1 he showed how fast he is. Everyone just needs to be a bit patient and I’m sure he’ll come around.
Baku means crashes and safety cars and overtaking so you’ll never know what to expect from the race, but our target is clear: we’ve put a lot of work into the development of our performance since the race in China so we want to finish in the points with both cars.”

Kimi Räikkönen (car number 7):
“I generally don’t like to make predictions, especially in Baku as anything can happen there. In principal our performance is strong, the car is fast, but we constantly need to improve in order to establish ourselves as best of the rest and score as many points as possible.”

Antonio Giovinazzi (car number 99):
“Next to training I also watched fellow countryman Fabio Fognini win the ATP Tennis Masters in Monte Carlo on Easter Sunday, so I’m going to Baku pumped up and with some good vibes. I have very good memories as I won two races when I drove in GP2, I like the track and I hope that I can improve my performance and get the maximum potential out of the car.”

Timetable. The first two free practice sessions take place tomorrow, at 13 and 17, while on Saturday, after a final hour of practice at 14, comes the battle for pole position at 17. The race gets underway on Sunday at 16.10. Baku is 2 hours ahead of Central European Time.

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