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Pit stop strategy for F1 Azerbaijan GP 2022

Can Ferrari F1 driver Charles Leclerc convert his latest pole position into his third win of the season at the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix?

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Ferrari F1 driver Charles Leclerc claimed his sixth pole of the season during the qualifying session for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The Monegasque driver beat Red Bull duo Sergio Perez and Drivers’ Championship leader Max Verstappen and will be desperate to convert his latest pole into his third win of the season.

Leclerc also becomes the first man to claim multiple poles at the Baku street circuit, with the Ferrari driver also starting from the lead during last year’s race. However, things are far from guaranteed as we have seen in the past few races, where Red Bull has been able to outmaneuver Ferrari during the actual races.

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix always seems to deliver from an excitement standpoint and with the first four cars being evenly matched, for the most part, the weekend’s race could be another classic.

As always the pit strategy will play a crucial role in determining the outcome of the race and with the appearance of a Safety Car almost guaranteed, the teams will need to be on their feet to execute the perfect race strategy.

What are Pirelli saying?

Given the unique nature of the Baku circuit, with an eclectic mix of extremely high-speed and low-speed sections, Pirelli have have opted to bring their C3, C4, and C5 compound tyres with the C3 serving as the hard, the C4 serving as the medium and the C5 compound being the softest of the set.

Based on previous years’ data, the Italian tyre brand predicts a one-stop race, however given that the race was neutralized by a late red flag and the fact that the cars are significantly different this year, executing the optimum strategy will depend on a variety of factors that might be out of the control of both driver and teams.

“Until Jeddah came along, Baku was the fastest street circuit of the year,” Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Mario Isola said.

“But the demands of this city track are still relatively low, as none of the corners take a huge amount of energy out of the tyres due to the low levels of abrasion and contained lateral loads – which means that we can have the same nomination as Monaco.

“Having said that, the high speeds in Azerbaijan still place a certain demand on the tyres. The main point is all about traction, with finding the right balance between front and rear axles being the key challenge for all the teams: you need to have enough heat in the front tyres to generate grip, despite the long straights that cool them down, but not too much heat at the rear, otherwise it’s easy to overheat them in the traction zones.

“Track temperature is also inconsistent in Baku, so all in all it’s quite a specific track with a few different technical challenges, which are nonetheless the same for everyone.”

Subplots to look for

As stated earlier, the appearance of a Safety Car is quite high, meaning that the teams will be factoring the variable into their equations. Mercedes in particular will be hoping that they can secure yet another podium with George Russell continuing his strong form in 2022 by qualifying the best of the rest in fifth.

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly could be another to watch, with the Frenchman performing strongly during last year’s race. Given that the AlphaTauri uses the same Red Bull Powertrains unit powering the Red Bull cars, Gasly could potentially upset those ahead of him, especially if an incident or a well-timed Safety Car plays into his favor.

The other team to watch out for is Alpine. The Enstone-based outfit has opted to run a slender rear wing on their cars and with the combined benefit of the DRS and a slipstream, this call could prove to be a masterstroke come race day.

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