Baku Track Guide | Sector 1 | F1 2021
Baku City Circuit in Azerbaijan is a fairly recent addition to the F1 calendar and in that short time, it has produced some incredible racing moments. It is most famous for the insanely narrow castle section and super long main straight, where overtaking is very easy. As in Monaco, the slightest mistakes are punished, whilst set-up wise, the teams are forced to choose between downforce for the twisty bits and low drag for the straight.
Sector 1 begins following the very long main straight. The sector itself is not particularly exciting as it is made up of just four 90-degree corners, starting with three left-handers and finishing on a right. These all have similar driving techniques for going as fast as possible, but each has its own secrets.
Turn 1: Entry
Following the extremely long straight, begin to move over to the right side for Turn 1, setting yourself up to straddle the entry kerb so you can brake with all four tyres on the tarmac for better grip.
Brake just before the kerb starts and follow the kerb whilst in the heavy braking phase. Downshift from 8th to 4th gear and then turn in at the 50m board, then trailbrake as you rotate the car. Shift down to 3rd gear for the apex.
Turn 1: Apex
Aim to gently clip the inside kerb of Turn 1, but don't use too much of it as it could unsettle the car.
Coast past the apex in 3rd gear and then short-shift to 4th as you pass the kerb to improve traction as you get back on the power.
The key is to allow the car to run wide initially so that you run over the start of the entry kerb by straddling it. This means you actually avoid touching it with your wheels.
Turn 1: Exit
On the exit try to straddle the kerb from start to finish, getting up against the wall but keeping two wheels within the white lines at all times. By doing it that way your tyres stay on the flat tarmac, rather than the bumpy kerb, keeping traction high.
On the exit, build the throttle up to about 70% as you first get to the kerb and leave the kerb at full throttle. Also, shift up to 4th gear after the apex and up to 5th as you leave the exit kerb.
Turn 2: Entry
Stay on the right as you head towards Turn 2. Use the gap in the barrier and the red and blue sign as a braking reference as you try to get as close to the wall as possible on entry.
Stay in 6th gear to avoid additional shifting and brake in a straight line before rotating the car using a wide and late line in 3rd gear. This is to set up for a better exit down the DRS straight to follow.
Turn 2: Apex
Get the car rotated quickly at the apex of Turn 2 so you can straighten the wheel and be on your way. Use 2nd gear at the apex before short-shifting to 3rd as you pass the kerb.
The key here is to stay off the kerb and just target the white line as the kerb will cause the car to bounce as you try to get on the power. You don't want to do this as it is important to get a good exit, so think about being slow in but fast out to maximise speed down the long straight.
Make sure to use all the track available on the exit and remember the DRS activation is soon after the corner so be ready to make the best use of it - bcy which point you should be at full throttle.
Turn 3: Entry
Take the shortest route down the straight and ease your way to the right side of the track for braking into Turn 3 to open up the corner. This is yet another 90-degree left-hander.
Hit the brakes in a straight line at the 100m board and ease the car over to just about miss the entry kerb as this can reduce your grip on turn-in. Turn in after the 50m board in 4th gear as you begin to release the brake pressure.
Turn 3: Apex
Like previously, shift down to 2nd gear approaching the apex and run over the white line. Getting greedy with this kerb at low speed will only make the car bounce and kill your exit. Then short-shift to 3rd gear just as you hit the apex and begin to power out.
Try to make your steering movements the opposite of your pedal movements so that you are using no throttle/brake at full steering and full throttle/brake with a straight wheel.
Turn 3: Exit
Run right up to the wall on the exit, trying to be smooth on the power as you should immediately be trying to make your way over to the left side of the track, ready for the braking zone of T4.
You can make use of the throttle to rotate the car as you exit in 3rd gear then shift up to 4th as you move away from the wall.
Turn 4: Entry
Turn 4 is the final corner in the sector and for a change, it's a right-hander. However, it can still be approached in a similar way to the previous ones.
Make your way back over to the wall on the left for the widest possible entry, beginning your trailbraking just before the 50m board. Shortly after starting to brake, begin to turn in after the 50m board.
Stay in 5th gear on the way in and shift down to 2nd gear slowly for the apex as this helps keep the car stable.
Turn 4: Apex
Just like previous corners, aim for the white line rather than the steep kerb in Turn 4 to give you better traction on exit.
Come fully off the brakes and coast past the apex in 2nd gear as you start to think about slowly building the throttle back up. Short-shift to 3rd gear on the exit.
Stay a little bit tighter initially to help avoid the exit kerb and then open up the wheel to run towards the wall once you are clear of it.
Turn 4: Exit
When exiting Turn 4, stay a little bit tighter initially to help avoid the exit kerb and then open up the wheel to use all of the track up to the wall once you are clear of it. Shift up to 4th gear once the lights on the dash turn blue.
Smoothly add throttle as you unwind the wheel so that you reach full power as soon as the wheel is straight.