Published On: Thu, Apr 26th, 2018

Formula 1: McLaren to trial top-speed fix in Azerbaijan GP practice

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McLaren will try a “different philosophy” in Azerbaijan Grand Prix practice to try to reduce its top speed deficit at one of Formula 1’s fastest circuits, according to Fernando Alonso.

Despite switching to Renault engines for 2018, McLaren had the worst top speed in qualifying in Australia and Bahrain, although fared better in China by getting Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne to tow each other down the back straight.

Last year, McLaren had a top speed deficit of 15km/h to the fastest car in Baku, which has four flat-out kinks before the start-finish straight, as both drivers failed to make it out of the first part of qualifying.

“Here was quite a difficult grand prix for us in the past years,” Alonso said. “We had some limitations on the power side. 

“It seems this year we still have quite a slow car on the straights but hopefully here we can improve that. 

“We have a different philosophy, a different test, to do on Friday to gain some extra speed and hopefully we can minimise that deficit.

”We’ve not been in Q3 so far this year and I think it’s going to be difficult again, but hopefully we are a little bit closer.”

Baku is mostly a traditional street circuit, but poses a unique set-up challenge for teams because the start-finish straight, the longest in F1, means they also need a high top speed.

Alonso said any experimentation on Friday was a reaction to the specific needs of the Baku circuit but said it would also be good for future races like Canada, where straightline speed is also significant. 

Asked by Autosport if the risk of sacrificing the rest of the lap made it harder for McLaren to minimise its top-speed deficit, he replied: “In a way yes, there are very different parts of the circuits here. 

“The compromises you make on one part will be quite bad for the other parts.

”We need to think carefully about that, tomorrow’s just a test day so we will test different solutions.

”Overnight it’s up to us to balance all of those solutions and make a decision.

”In a way, in a race situation there are not many overtaking manoeuvres on the slow part of the circuit, because it’s a narrow street circuit, so normally here to be faster on the straights would be a winning situation.”

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