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Pirelli set out tyre challenges for teams at Azerbaijan GP

After the mixed weather conditions of the Monaco Grand Prix posed a tyre quandary for the teams, what challenges will the upcoming Azerbaijan Grand Prix bring?

Pirelli have outlined what the main challenges will be in terms of tyres for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The brand are set to bring the three softest compounds in their range as F1 prepares to race on the streets of Baku. This will consist of the C3 as the P Zero White Hard, C4 as the P Zero Yellow Medium, and C5 as P Zero Red Soft. It remains to be seen whether there will be a repeat of the mixed weather conditions that affected the Monaco Grand Prix, which resulted in much back and forth on the grid ahead of the race getting underway, with teams swapping to Intermediate or Wet tyres. However, Pirelli's Motorsport Director, Mario Isola, admits that Baku has some similar characteristics to Monte Carlo in terms of tyre requirements.

Isola outlines demands of Azerbaijan

"Until Jeddah came along, Baku was the fastest street circuit of the year," 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." Isola acknowledges that the Azerbaijan venue still poses some challenges for the tyres, though. "Having said that, the high speeds in Azerbaijan still place a certain demand on the tyres," he added. "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."

Will 2022 strategy choices be similar to 2021?

At the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, a one-stop strategy was the winning one, though this was somewhat neutralised by a red flag towards the very end of the event. This strategy involved switching from the Soft compound to the Hard, and most teams opted to again fit the Soft for the final three laps of the race following the restart. It is not yet clear if this will be the preferred plan again in 2022, with the previous rule of the top 10 having to use the fastest Q2 tyre for the race start no longer in effect this year.

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