Rounding up all the odds and ends from media day at the Baku City Circuit, F1 Editor Luke Smith brings you his Paddock Notebook.

- Following his stunning victory in China two weeks ago and free agent status beyond 2018, Daniel Ricciardo’s future was a big talking point through Thursday’s media day in Baku. The Australia stressed he had only spoken with Red Bull about 2019 and, contrary to some reports, had signed no pre-contract agreement with Ferrari.

- Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel once again said he wouldn’t mind if Ricciardo were to be his teammate again following their year together at Red Bull in 2014, while Lewis Hamilton hailed Ricciardo’s consistency compared to that of his teammate, Max Verstappen.

- On Hamilton’s own contract, he said that while he is “fully committed to Mercedes”, he’s still not rushing into things, having spent the break between China and Baku on holiday and at Coachella.

- Hamilton also paid tribute to outgoing Arsenal football manager Arsene Wenger, revealing he was invited to go and train with the Premier League side he has supported since he was a boy: “For anyone to have commitment to a team and the loyalty he’s shown, through all the ups and downs, through outside individuals saying negatives, positives, media saying positives, negatives, but to stay true to your values and continue to strive to what you believe in, I think he’s really been awesome.”

- Inkeeping with the somewhat unexpected football and F1 crossover in Baku, Fernando Alonso also fielded a question about Barcelona player Andres Iniesta’s soon-to-be-announced move to China. “He’s the best player we had in Spain in history probably. He will be missed in La Liga,” Alonso said.

- This weekend’s grand prix marks the start of a hectic period for Alonso, who will make his FIA World Endurance Championship debut with Toyota next weekend. Alonso will have only one rest weekend in the next 11 weeks - between Spain and Monaco - as he gears up for his bid to add to his ‘triple crown’ tally in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.

- Back on the F1 side of things, Pierre Gasly revealed that he and Brendon Hartley have spoken and moved on following their on-track clash in China. Gasly hinted the team took his side over the incident, and that any future swaps on-track will be made far simpler to avoid a repeat.

- Gasly is also sporting his ‘lucky’ beard once again in Baku, having joked that it helped him on his way to fourth place in Bahrain earlier this month.

- Despite waiting for a bigger update package in Spain in two weeks’ time, Williams is not giving up on its hope for some breakthrough points in Baku this weekend. Sergey Sirotkin said the team had “nothing to lose”, pinning its hopes on a crazy race similar to that of 2017 that allowed Lance Stroll to nick a podium finish.

- Following the FIA’s announcement it would be upping the fuel limit by 5 kg from 2019, most drivers asked in Baku said they doubted it would have much of an impact on improving races to make them flat-out.

- The other announced change setting the driver weight apart from that of the car was largely welcomed, particularly by Esteban Ocon, who is the tallest driver on the grid. He revealed his decision to enter DTM instead of F2 was largely fuelled by his height making it hard to adjust to the car.

- Gunther Steiner said that Haas is yet to have spoken any further with F1 bosses about plans for 2021 and beyond. Following the initial presentation made in Bahrain, talks are expected to take place with individual teams over the coming weeks and months.

- The only track change made for this weekend’s race in Baku comes at Turn 8, where the kerb has been removed and replaced with a shorter version as it was after Friday’s running last year.

- The FIA-appointed driver stewards in Baku are Garry Connelly, Dennis Dean and Tom Kristensen.


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