Baku Track Guide | Sector 2 | 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 2 is much more complex than Sector 1. It contains the famous, extremely narrow, castle section. This sector is all about pushing the limits when it comes to the walls, but not overstepping the mark and hitting them. Treat this sector as you would Monaco or Macau.Turn 5: Entry
Turn 5: Entry
For Turn 5, move back over to the right using all of the track and brake at around 75m. Turn in at the 50m board and try to just avoid the entry kerb as it will lose you some grip.
Stay in 6th gear on the approach and then downshift to 4th gear for the initial turn-in.
Turn 5: Apex
At the apex of Turn 5, downshift to 3rd gear as you trailbrake in and use all of the flat inside kerb right up to the inside wall.
The key here is to hug the left side for slightly longer than you think so that you can take a wider line into T6 for a better exit. This compromises T5 for a larger overall gain. Then downshift into 2nd as you make the late transition into T6.
Turn 5 quickly leads into Turn 6 so you need to be on a good line through T5 to make the best out of T6. Do this by taking a wide line in and making a late apex into T6. This allows you to straighten up earlier and be back on the power sooner on the exit.
Shift down from 3rd gear to 2nd gear as you make the transition from T5 to T6 for rotation and then clip the white line at the apex. Taking the kerb will make the car jump and destabilise the rear. Short-shift for more traction on the exit.
Turn 7: Entry
Now the difficulty level begins to rise over the next few corners.
Approaching Turn 7, brake roughly halfway between the 100m and 50m boards from near to the left barrier. Leave a small gap between you and the left wall because you want to brake straight but avoid the entry kerb as it is a little slippery.
Stay in 6th gear on the approach and downshift to 3rd gear as you start to turn in when the entry kerb begins to curve away to the left. Start to reduce brake pressure as you get to this entry kerb.
Turn 7: Apex
The Turn 7 apex kerb is really important to take to shorten the line, so make sure you use as much as the track limits will allow but be careful not to cut it completely.
Downshift to 1st gear for the kerb and then double shift up to 3rd on your way out of the corner. As you do this, use the throttle to rotate the car and run right up to the left wall before making your way back over to the right for T8.
Turn 8: Entry
We have arrived at the famous Turn 8 - the start of the castle section. Begin braking just before the 50m board as you go past the light box and get right up against the outside wall. Be cautious under braking.
Approach in 5th gear and turn in smoothly after the 50m board as you downshift to 3rd for the apex and smoothly come off the brake pedal. Be careful not to unsettle the car with an aggressive turn-in as there is no space to deal with any corrections.
Try to keep your eyes focused on the apex here because it can be easy to miss it and end up going into the run-off area. Try to keep the braking boards in your peripheral vision.
The castle section at Turns 8-10 is the narrowest piece of track on the F1 calendar at just 7.6m wide, so it is single file through here! You need to make it as wide as possible by running up as close as you can to the walls on both sides of the track.
Try to turn in once for T8 and use virtually the same steering lock through until the exit of T10 for stability.
Use 3rd gear at the apex here as you trailbrake in, and stay in 3rd until the exit of T12. Begin to build the power progressively between T8 and T9.
As you pass the Baku Fortress wall on your left, continue to hug the left barrier to open up the entry of T11. Try to apex Turn 10 late, continuing the same smooth arc out of T9 so you naturally end up on the left. Also, be aware of the little notch in the barrier as catching your rear left on it is easy to do if you get too greedy.
Build the throttle smoothly until you reach almost 100% on the exit of T10 before braking gently into T11. Stay in 3rd gear all the way through the section to avoid unnecessarily unsettling the rear of the car.
It is important to try to spot your apex for T11, which can be tricky as you can't see it from here because of the crest. Remember the crest will also reduce grip on turn-in.
For Turn 11, stay in 3rd gear and aim to take all of the kerb, being careful not to catch the edge of the inside wall as Hamilton once did.
Traibrake in, being wary of the crest in the track reducing grip, then coast over the apex kerb with no pedal inputs. After you pass the kerb, pick up 50% throttle and place the car in the middle of the track for the best compromise with T12. This helps to give you a good exit onto the flat-out section after T12.
Keep it in 3rd gear for Turn 12 too. Take a late apex, entering from the middle of the track and fully mount the flat inside kerb, getting pretty close to the inside wall for the highest minimum speed and momentum.
In the short period between T11 and T12, use 50% throttle then lift for the T12 apex without using the brakes and get quickly back on the power after the apex.
Use all of the track available on exit but be careful not to get invalidated there.
Turn 13 is easy flat so just try to scrub as little speed as possible here, smoothing out the line with T14. Aim to clip the white line of the apex kerb as a good compromise between line and scrub.
You don't need to be wide on the entry or exit as the downforce is high so stay a little tighter to the left to shorten the line.
Focus on timing the shifts right on the ideal blue lights and pass the apex in 7th gear.
Similarly to Turn 13, Turn 14 is easily flat so just try to scrub as little speed as possible again here. Aim to clip the white line of the apex kerb as a good compromise between line and scrub.
You don't need to be wide on the entry or exit as the downforce is high so stay a little tighter to the left to shorten the line, especially as you want to exit in the middle of the track for T15 braking.
Shift up from 7th to 8th gear as you pass the kerb on the left.
Turn 15: Entry
Approaching the tricky braking zone of Turn 15, aim to position the car in the middle of the track. This is because you can align the straight braking to put you at a wider turn-in point than braking from the right. This is because of the right kink in the track further on.
Use the end of the right kerb as the indication to start braking and head towards the wall on the right for turn-in. Start braking in 8th gear and aim to be in 4th when you start to turn in.
The hardest part of this corner is the increasingly downhill track towards the apex, reducing your grip and making the car nervous. Be cautious or you will need the run-off.
Turn 15: Apex
For the T15 apex, there are two possible lines, a safe line and a risky line. The risky line in F12021 involves fully mounting the inside kerb with all four tyres, which shortens the line significantly but the large kerb can send the car into the air. The risky line can gain you some time but could just as easily put you in the wall. In order to take the risky line, you must be fully off the pedals by the time you take the kerb to avoid a spin.
The safer line, which is much more like how they would take it in real life, is to simply go around to the right of this kerb and just gently clip it.
Take the kerb in 3rd gear and use all of the track on the exit, being careful not to smash the wall as you exit down the hill. Be cautious on the power until the car settles down after the kerb.