We spent several hours walking around the track [Baku City Circuit] examining every bit of it and I was happy to see that everything is being very well organized.
"I am sure I am not alone in looking forward to coming back to Baku for the second successive F1 race weekend here in a few weeks and seeing F1 cars race arounds this highly impressive circuit once again. So many people were pleasantly surprised with their first trip to Baku last year and as a result everyone is now looking forward to coming back again this summer.
We’ve reviewed the track layout and in particular the safety barriers with respect to the new cars. We’ve done this for every track this year. There are certain improvements that have been made in five or six different corners, in particular by Turn 15.
The new F1 cars this year are 20cm wider than they were last year. However, 15 years ago F1 cars had the same width as today's so it is not uncharted territory for us. The cars are typically not faster on the straights, but instead are faster in medium and high-speed corners. We’ve taken all these factors into account when we do our simulations to calculate the impacts on speed and hits so that barriers can be strengthened where necessary in certain places.
I think the top speed this year will not be too much different to last year. Possibly, it will be a little slower in terms of the very top speeds that were reached simply because the new cars produce more drag. So far, in most races this year the top speed has been marginally slower than in 2016. Last year we recorded an unofficial top speed of 378km/h. This year it will be a little bit slower although the overall lap time will be significantly faster.
[BCC] is certainly challenging for the drivers. It is challenging for those who have built the circuit. But it is definitely a unique circuit, it has unique features on it, which everyone likes. It is good to come and have the sort of iconic images that you already have here in Baku. The drivers I’ve spoken to have found it very challenging, so with the new cars they will find it even more so this year."