The two-time World Endurance Champion will make his debut at the Azerbaijan race and is relishing a long-awaited return to street racing having solely competed on purpose-built circuits or street and circuit hybrids since his junior single-seater career.
While the Baku event hosts its third Formula 1 round, after debuting on the calendar in 2016, it will mark Hartley’s maiden F1 city street race after making the full-time move to the series over the winter.
Having enjoyed extensive testing in Toro Rosso’s simulator becoming familiar with the Baku City Circuit, Hartley isn’t worried about any new challenges ahead of him this weekend and feels he’ll need just 10 laps before feeling comfortable with the whole of circuit layout and characteristics.
“I don’t know how many different circuits I’ve driven in my career but I’m always excited to drive a new one,” Hartley said. “From driving it on the simulator, the bit by the castle almost reminds me of Macau, which is one of my favourite tracks.
“Apart from all the sim work, plus looking at videos of past races, I’ll be doing as much study as I can, so that I’d like to think that within ten laps, you’re pretty much up to speed.
“A lot of the work we do on the simulator is actually for the engineers to develop the set-up and a small part of it is for the driver, but when you’re going to a new track then a bigger percentage of the work done is for the driver as well so it serves two purposes.
“Obviously there’s always those last few tenths still to come from a track that’s new to you, where knowing every bump in the road, changing conditions, wind direction, all have to be experienced at the actual circuit.”
Hartley says he’ll be relying on his extensive experience at a variety of different circuits to feel at home on the Baku streets but accepts the limitations the simulator has on replicating the exact conditions that he will face at the Azerbaijan capital.
“When you’ve driven hundreds of circuits in your life, you try and piece them together and look at one corner and compare that to somewhere else that you’ve been,” he said. “Obviously experience counts for a lot when you’re learning a new track.
“You certainly expect that the sim is modelled as close to the real thing as possible but it’s always hard to know - is that kerb exactly the same? Does it get the same amount of grip? Are there other factors? Are there marbles?”
Source : https://www.crash.net/f1/news/894497/1/hartley-10-laps-learn-baku-city-circuit