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F1 2020 setup guide overview – Azerbaijan
Creating an Azerbaijan setup for F1 2020 is something of a tricky proposition. In its essence, your Baku setup should be almost identical to a Monza setup, as the long straights and quick direction changes are a similar proposition to Monza. You need to ensure your setup for Azerbaijan accommodates the longest straight in F1, whilst still having enough downforce and responsiveness to handle the tricky castle sector.
The fact that the pit straight is the longest in F1, it limits your ability to run any real amount of downforce. You should run as little as you can get away with, whilst still making you can drive the last sector without losing too much time. Keep your rear wing fairly neutral, while lowering your front wing. This gives you the best balance whilst accelerating out of corners, and you wont lose a lot of time down the pit straight.
Due to the point and squirt nature of Baku, your setup will need to combat all of the wheel spin you will experience. Azerbaijan is extremely rear limited due to its slow 90 degree corners. These corners almost all lead on to medium length straights, so require maximum traction to ensure good acceleration on exit.
You will want to setup your on-throttle differential to its lowest setting to ensure you manage your tyre wear throughout the race. You can increase the differential during the race, and we would do so in the final medium speed sector.
The long back straight and point and squirt nature of Azerbaijan, allows us remove a lot of toe. This will allow your top speed to be as high as possible without compromising your lap time too much. You can also run reasonably aggressive camber due to the fact that your front tyres wont be suffering too much wear throughout the race.
As with many street circuits, you will be attacking the kerbs most of the way around the track. The last sector will require you to run over almost every kerb, as well as corners such as turn 1. Due to this we will run a fairly soft suspension setup. Many time trial setups will run 1-1 suspension softness, but we will dial it back in a little for more balance.
To keep some stiffness in the car for the quick direction changes of the castle sector you should keep your anti-roll bars fairly neutral. You should keep the rear anti-roll bars 1 or 2 steps higher than the front to increase the rear stability.
Similar to our Monza setup, you will want to increase the brake pressure to slow the car down from such high speeds in as little distance as possible. Keep your brake bias reasonably balanced to give the best stopping power throughout the lap. You can run it a little more frontward for braking in to the first corner. The more forward the brake bias the more front stopping power you will have. Keep the brake bias forward for the second and third corners too, then adjust it back down for the rest of the lap.
To maintain good performance and heat in the tyres, keep the tyre pressures fairly balanced. You can lower the rear pressures a notch or two to help improve rear traction if you are struggling for grip.
The slipstream and DRS are all-powerful around this circuit, but if you can’t get through the castle consistently you won’t be going too far in this race, so don’t go taking all the aerodynamic performance off in hopes of flying passed everyone on the back straight.
How To Best Drive The Azerbaijan Grand Prix Circuit
With the car setup for Azerbaijan sorted, you can focus on the race. As with most street circuits, you will want to maximise your qualifying performance. You pretty much cant overtake around Baku apart from the first and third corners. The rest of the lap you will be following the car in front.
The best spot to overtake is the first corner, immediately after the long DRS straight. This straight is so long that as long as you are within a second of the car in front, you will almost always be able to pull along side to attempt an overtake. You should try to get the best exit from the last corner to either ensure you are within a second of the car in front, or to try and break the 1 second gap to the car behind.
You can overtake in to turn 3 as the straight is long enough to get a good slipstream, but the rest of the lap is almost impossible to overtake.
The key to a quick lap around Azerbaijan is mastering the castle section and early acceleration out of corners. You will want to start to accelerate as soon as you are at the apex of the 90 degree corners. The sooner you get on the power, the more lap time you will find.
The castle section is one of the most technical sectors on the whole F1 calendar. The key to mastering it is braking early, and hitting the apex. It is all too easy to coast through this sector or run wide once you get to the top of the hill. Try to keep a tight line through here to give you the best acceleration out of each turn.