What a difference a couple of races can make to a driver. Nobody could argue that Lewis Hamilton has had an atrocious start to the season but a better turn of fortune in the last two rounds and clearly the boy from Stevenage is riding high on a crest of confidence.
Widely reported in the media, Hamilton’s made it clear of his thoughts of the new street circuit at Baku calling it a ‘motorway’.
“I don’t really know what to say about it,” he said. “It’s just another new track. There’s one very tight spot on it. It’s got a very long straight… I don’t really have a lot to say about it.
“Monaco is the street circuit. And they don’t make them like that. I don’t know why they don’t, but why don’t they just make street circuits like they used to? I don’t understand. It’s super wide in some places, as wide as a motorway almost in some places!”
Perhaps Lewis’s memory is short. He himself raced during his F3 days at the notorious Macau street circuit in China, probably the most demandingly tight yet super fast and dangerous street circuits in the world. Over the years Macau has seen a number of driver deaths, even in recent history. Indeed the Baku track has quite a few similarities to the Chinese circuit including a ridiculously tight section not too dissimilar to Macau’s famous hairpin section of Melco with it’s lead up of the Solitude esses. Baku and Macau also share some Monza like fast straights so these tracks are very much bipolar in nature.
Yesterday the tight castle section of Baku was doing the rounds on Twitter
— Gianluca D'Alessandro (@Gianludale27) June 16, 2016
Lewis’s attitude (frankly bordering on arrogance) to the challenges of Baku resulted in him admitting yesterday that he’s only practiced a mere 8 laps in the simulator, dismissing Mercedes not insubstantial investment as not much better than a Playstation.
“I could spend £100 on a PlayStation and learn as much.” mused Lewis to the press yesterday.
“If you race the track at the weekend, and then on Monday you’re in the simulator you miss the bumps. Even the curbs and speed are different. You can not feel the speed, you do not experience the physical aspect,”.
The Mercedes driver also declined to join the rest of the paddock with the traditional track walk, although much like Kimi, he rarely has walked any circuit since 2010.
Perhaps Kimi should remind Lewis of Silverstone 2014?
Since the track walk, other drivers have serious concerns over track safety however. Button, the most experienced driver on the grid, said: “It is a concern for everyone if you have a failure. Turn Three, seven and 14, there is very little run off.
“The speeds are going to be higher than Monaco. I was surprised. It is more the heavy breaking corners that are going to be a little bit worrying. Turn Three is probably the biggest one. And Turn Seven you have three TECPRO barriers and then concrete. There is no room for errors. Nothing.”
Perhaps Button has in mind the terrifying high speed Indycar crash last weekend at Newgarden. It’s widely reported that the same barrier technology in place there failed, allowing the drivers roll hoop to penetrate at speed. TJ13’s Tourdog investigated this issue last year after Carlos Sainz crashed out at Sochi with similar results. (Click here for article link)
Rosberg added his concerns for the Baku circuit safety “I really trust the FIA to get the job done, they have all the calculations and simulations. They know exactly the speeds. There are given rules they have to make tracks, so I would hope that they stuck to them. I’m doubting it a little bit, looking at those corners.”