- The Azerbaijan GP has quickly become one of F1’s favourite races, especially after the unexpected results from the last two years that have seen six different drivers finish on the podium. The combination of low-downforce setups due to the need for smaller wings in the longest straight of the year, combined with a low-grip and dirty asphalt and tough braking zones have created a lot of drama - but there’s a special ingredient, as the only man who has scored more than one podium in Baku, Sergio Perez, points out: “The wind usually changes a lot and makes life even more complicated for the drivers.”

- Baku is, indeed, 'The City of Winds' but, as F1 found out in its first race, held in June 2016, the weather can be much nicer and more stable later in the year. And that’s why the organisers want it back to its original slot. “We would like to go back to June, but we have some schedule issues with the three Euro 2020 games we are hosting in the end of the month and the beginning of July, and also with the French GP having gone back to the calendar and being such a traditional event, so we are trying to work our way around it”, says the promoter Arif Rahimov.

- But when we remember that the first race wasn’t that exciting - and the weather was so nice that the wind was not strong enough to play a part - maybe that would not be the best idea in terms of keeping Baku’s fame as a crazy race.

- Coming back to Perez, Crash.net asked him about his home GP’s situation: “It’s not great”, he recognized. Because of a political shift both in the national and the capital’s levels, the important government support may not go on beyond this year, when the contract expires. And the situation is not very different in other four races: the contract renewals in Spain, Germany, Britain and Brazil are giving a lot of headaches to Liberty Media.

- The challenge this weekend will be to stay out the walls in Baku while pushing the limits, something Charles Leclerc has mastered both in F2 - when he got a first and a second place - and by scoring his first points in F1 in Azerbaijan last year with an unexpected sixth place with Sauber. But, despite saying he has always felt “comfortable in street circuits and driving close to the walls”, the Monegasque was less keen to talk about team orders at Ferrari...

- When asked if he thinks he can score more points than Sebastian Vettel this season - and if Ferrari will let him do so - he just gave a shy smile and tried to run away from the question, only for his press officer to promptly instruct: “Just say yes!”. In the end, we all felt as if Leclerc wanted to say much more than he did. But will try to do his talking on the track.

- At the same time as Leclerc was confident of doing well in Baku, Robert Kubica, even with much more experienced, was showing a mix of curiosity and apprehension. “It’s going to be the first time I’m going to drive in a street circuit since Singapore 2010”, he reminded everyone, before talking about having to deal with the Williams’ lack of grip in the unforgiving streets of Baku.

- Another driver who at least should be a bit apprehensive is Max Verstappen. The Dutchman crashed in 2017 and two times last year in Baku but said that “it’s not because I crashed that I don’t like the track. It could be, actually, because I really like it and was trying to push.” But another accident wouldn’t be very welcomed especially by Honda, who are bringing their first upgrade of the year to the fourth race of the season. “It’s just reliability”, repeated both Red Bull drivers. “And I don’t care if I have to start at the back at the end of the season because of penalties if that means that we will be closer to Mercedes and Ferrari," added Verstappen.

- The Red Bull driver had no clue that he made ex-teammate Daniel Ricciardo’s day by being portrayed as Captain Marvel, a female character, on F1’s social media post that had the drivers - and Toto Wolff - as superheroes. “Oh shit! Oh yeah, she’s got tits. What am I? Am I cool?” He was Hawkeye. Make up your own minds...

- George Russell was excused from media duties on Thursday in Baku as a result of illness. Russell had been due to appear in the FIA press conference. Williams expects him to be fit for practice on Friday as planned, though.

- Michael Masi will continue as F1 Race Director for this weekend’s race in Baku. It marks the fourth straight grand prix he has overseen since the sudden passing of Charlie Whiting ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.

- The track has been resurfaced on the run from the exit of Turn 1 to the entry of Turn 2 since last year’s race, according to the FIA’s pre-event notes.

Additional reporting by Luke Smith.


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