The Baku street circuit has only been on the Formula 1 calendar for a few years but it has produced some spectacular races thanks to its close barriers, tight corners, and high speeds.
We have seen safety cars, daring overtakes, and a lot of teammates falling out. What we haven’t seen much of is rain, but F1 2019 loves to throw weather at you especially online, so being prepared for every eventuality is crucial.
How should you setup your car if the rain pours in Baku?
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Baku’s big straights tempt you to trim wings as much as you can, but go too far and you will find it impossible to get around a lap. We have gone with a 5-8 setting here to give us the front end bite to get through the tricky castle section and the rear stability to survive the final chicane that goes from easy flat to horrible lift in the rain.
The transmission section describes how power goes through the rear wheels. Rain creates a severe lack of grip, especially on the kerbs which you will use a lot around this lap, whether you want to or not. As a result you should unlock the differential as much as possible, which allows the rears to rotate more freely.
We have gone with a 50% on-throttle differential which will help prevent the rear end snapping too much when you put your foot down.
To again help that the off-throttle differential is more locked, at 70%, to force the rears to rotate a little more closely, thus driving you through corners more and letting you feel more confident getting on the power.
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Suspension geometry describes how the wheels are aligned with the body of the car.
The optimum setting, which is what we have gone for here, can be harsh on tyres. However, in the wet this is less of an issue as the standing water helps keep the tyres from overheating.
So we have gone with a front camber setting of -2.50 with a rear camber of -1.00. The front toe is set to 0.05 and the rear is at 0.20.
This provides optimal cornering speed, but will overheat the tyres in dry conditions so if the weather is going to be changeable you will need to compromise these settings a little.
The suspension settings are the most important of the lot.
We have gone with a 4-4 setting for our suspension. This prevents too much lunging forward under braking, which is crucial for getting the car to slow into the big stopping zones that are around this circuit, but it will make it harsher over the kerbs so be careful.
The anti-roll bars are set to 4-5. With not many quick changes of direction here we don’t need the responsiveness that stiff anti-roll bars provide, so we can protect the tyres a little and soften them up. The rear is kept a little stiffer just to help prevent it from stepping out as easily.
Ride height is set to 8-11. This undoes some of the harshness over bumps that the suspensions added, but it also lets the aerodynamics do more work, especially the rear wing. Which adds overall stability to the setup.
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It can be tempting to bump the brake pressure up in the wet to increase stopping power. However, this increases the risk of lockups and makes feathering the brakes harder. As such we have gone with a 85% setting.
The brake bias is set to 54%. This keeps the front responsive when you are braking, allowing a little more leeway if you get things wrong.
Tyre pressures are directly related to wear. We have lowered the pressures here to help preserve tyre life, but we can’t go too low otherwise they create too much drag down the streets and we lose some front end responsiveness. As such we have gone with 22.6 psi on the front and 20.7 psi at the rear.
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So that’s our wet setup for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The Baku circuit is a test of nerves in the rain, but with this setup you can grow in confidence thanks to the consistency it provides on corner exit.
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