This year will be our third in Baku. It’s not often we go somewhere new to race but it’s always nice to visit somewhere different. I tend to make sure I’m at any new event at least a day before Kimi just so I understand the place, hotel, distance and way to the track etc. As it happens Baku couldn’t be easier on that front. The team pick Kimi up when he arrives and take him straight to the hotel. I will have already checked his room and put in there what I need. For the hotels in Baku there are two main places to stay, the Hilton which is one end of the paddock and the JW Marriott which is at the other end. We stay in the Marriott and I have to say as well as being perfectly positioned, we just walk out the hotel and practically into the track, it’s also a nice hotel with good in room food / restaurant options, a reasonable gym and well-appointed rooms.
Being literally right next to the paddock removes any issues with car and directions so that part is super easy, and we start a bit later in the day in Baku so the mornings are also pretty chilled.
I don’t always have a lot of time free at the races, but I always try and see something of the destination when there. We are privileged to travel so much and sometimes it’s important to make a point of seeing just a little piece of where you are. The old town of Baku is one of the most beautiful I’ve seen anywhere and not so far away from where we stay. It was definitely a highlight seeing that.
Training wise we have a fair bit of time in the mornings. There is a great 6km promenade that runs right along the coast that makes for a good 12km round trip. It’s been pretty hot in the past, but we were also there at a warmer time of year. Looking at the temperatures for this year but it seems to be a more reasonable 20 – 24 degrees C. The gym as you’ll see from the video is also pretty good with plenty of options for a workout. There is also a pool, so all bases are covered.
There are quite a few places that we travel to in F1 that unless there was a race on I’d probably never visit. Baku for sure is one of them as would most likely be Sochi. Not necessarily because they aren’t worth visiting but more because you generally hear very little about them, so they never even get on the travel radar. All travels in my opinion provide great additional life experiences and Baku has definitely been a positive experience for me.
From a race point of view, it’s a bit like a fast Monaco. There isn’t much room for error and it’s fast! I went round the track on a bike with Kimi to check it out the first year and on some of it you kind of wonder how an f1 car travelling at those speeds will ever make it through some of the gaps (and quite often as we saw last year they don’t) but the long straights make for reasonable overtaking opportunities which adds to the excitement of the race.
Hydration is something we pay attention to at any hot race and it can get hot in Baku but it tends to be a dry heat and a bit easier to manage. The heat has more of an effect here on the cars! Trying to keep them cool is also an issue, one thankfully I’m not involved in.
Last year in Baku for me was memorable for our impression of something more out of the movie Cool Runnings than an F1 race, running down the pit lane next to DG, Kimi’s engineer during the red flag after Kimi’s car had been put back together in record time, throwing his gloves at him while he was screaming to get a steering wheel! (kind of helps in getting around the corners) 😊
Let’s see what this year brings!