Tilke: Baku set to be fastest street circuit in F1

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Formula 1 track designer Hermann Tilke believes that the Baku City Circuit in Azerbaijan will be the fastest street course on the series’ calendar when it hosts the European Grand Prix in June.

It was confirmed in July 2014 that Azerbaijan would be joining the F1 calendar, playing host to the first European Grand Prix since 2012.

Preparations have been going to plan ahead of the race on June 19, with a video preview of the track being released last month.

Speaking to the circuit’s official website, Tilke said that he thinks it will be one of the most unique and quickest layouts on the calendar.

“There is no track like Baku City Circuit – it will be one of the most exciting ones on the calendar,” Tilke said.

“Baku, of course, is not comparable with any of the permanent circuits, because it is a city circuit. But even when compared to city circuits, Baku is unique.

“Baku City Circuit is expected be the fastest street circuit on the F1 calendar. We calculated a lap time of 101 seconds, but that depends on the individual set-up of the racing cars and on the developments of this year’s new cars.”

Tilke confirmed that the circuit is on-track to be ready for the race, with paddock speculation previously suggesting that it was behind schedule.

“We constantly collaborate with the Baku City Circuit team. We are pleased to work with such amazing colleagues. The atmosphere between all participants is just great,” Tilke said.

“The entire team will work until the last minute, but everything is currently on time.”

The European Grand Prix in Baku, Azerbaijan will take place on June 19.

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

Hunter Jett Lawrence fans
Align Media
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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”