McLaren preview the European GP

Fernando Alonso is relishing the prospect of taking on the “fastest of any previous street track” while Jenson Button says it is imperative to bounce back in Baku…

Fernando Alonso: “I’m already really looking forward to getting out on track for the first time in Baku on Friday. In my role as Baku Ambassador, I’m lucky enough to have already seen the plans in detail for the new circuit and watch the venue come together over the past few months. The track layout is a really impressive hybrid of the buzz of a street circuit, with its tight narrow streets and close racing, and a more traditional track, where there are high speeds and solid overtaking opportunities.

“Having seen the development work in Baku as it’s neared completion over the past few months, it’s clear that the organisers have put a lot of planning and resources into the infrastructure around the circuit, and it promises to be a very significant event in the region. There are a lot of fans who’ve been excited about this Grand Prix for a long time now, so I’m looking forward to racing in front of them and putting on a good show in front of a new audience of fans that we’ve never reached before.

“This circuit is a great mix of both worlds, and as the fastest of any previous street track, I’m excited for the challenge and to see what’s possible in these kinds of conditions, where everything is a little bit unknown. I’ve already driven the track on the simulator and there’s certainly a lot that makes it unique – medieval walls close to the edge of the newly-laid asphalt, anti-clockwise corners, minimal run-off – so it seems to have all of the ingredients to give us a bit of drama and the prospect of exciting racing.

“The Canada race weekend started relatively well, but in the race, we were outpaced by stronger teams. It was difficult to maintain heat in the tyres in cooler temperatures, which meant they didn’t perform as well, so we struggled to keep up with the guys in front. Some of Baku’s characteristics are similar, and despite being a street circuit will still be very demanding on power units and chassis. But, we’ll attack the weekend in our usual way, and keep pushing for more improvements in each session.”

Jenson Button: “After a disappointing end to what was a fairly positive weekend in Canada until I had to retire the car, I’m already relishing the prospect of the next race – and at a new track, too. From what I’ve seen of it, the Baku City Circuit looks pretty cool – especially as the city centre has so much history attached to it, yet we’ll be roaring over the cobbles there at over 300km/h (186mph) in the middle of the city walls.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how they’ve transformed the area to accommodate a Grand Prix race. I’ve heard good things from Fernando about the layout too, with some really exciting narrow sections mixed in with wider areas that should be promising for overtaking. It’ll be tough on the car with its long, fast straight, strong loads on the ERS and high fuel consumption, so we need to buckle down and work hard to get our package set up as quickly as possible for the demands of this circuit.

“In terms of things like strategy, tyres, temperatures, of course, we have a lot of simulator data – a few of the guys in the team have visited and already have a pretty good handle on the conditions – but until we get there, it’s all a bit of unfamiliar. Having a new circuit on the calendar definitely does spice things up a bit and puts everyone back on a more level playing field, at least initially, so I’m looking forward to the challenge of a new track.

“It’s imperative we bounce back quickly from the disappointment of Canada and the fact we go to a completely new Grand Prix means the focus will rapidly shift from one to the other – there’s definitely a heightened sense of anticipation and excitement for the next race. We’re working hard to keep improving race to race and despite the blip in Canada, hopefully, we can continue seeing gains – however small – in the next few crazy weeks of back-to-back Grands Prix.”

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