Lewis Hamilton says Formula 1 drivers “moan so much” about tracks and he is happy with new European Grand Prix venue Baku.
On Thursday Jenson Button suggested F1 had gone “backward” in some aspects of safety with the Baku track. But after driving the circuit for the first time in practice, Hamilton declared himself “well happy.”
“These drivers, they moan so much about so many things,” he continued. “It’s really bumpy down the main straight and you can’t really see Turn 1 that well, the car’s vibrating, it’s really hard, but that’s part of racing. These guys want it to be smoother than ever and no vibrations and no bumps. They want to take all the character and life out of these tracks.
“I’m glad that this has bumps, but I guarantee you there’s going to be some people who say those things. I’ll just sit there and smile.”
Button stood by his criticisms of the lack of runoff.
“Driving the circuit’s never going to change the way you feel,” he said. “I haven’t hit the wall so I don’t know how it feels.”
He said the much-discussed narrow section past the castle was “so slow, it’s not where a Formula 1 car is at its strength” but was happier with other areas.
“Turn 14’s a lot more fun, it’s right on the edge. It’s actually mad really,” Button added. “The last two corners that are flat-out on the straight, if it’s wet here it’ll be quite scary. There are some good corners in the middle.”
Championship leader Nico Rosberg described the track as “cool to drive” but had concerns.
“It’s exciting up by the castle but there are a few places that are a bit too risky, like for example the pit entry is really on the edge,” he argued.
At the subsequent drivers’ briefing, assurances were given that the pit entry would be modified so the white line marking it was easier to see when coming up the gradient of the main straight.
“We are going to extend the pit entry line by quite a lot to know if a car is pulling in or not,” said Carlos Sainz Jr. “If not, we can find a car braking in the middle of a straight at 340km/h which is not ideal.”
He added that drivers had also been told some curbs would be removed.
Haas driver Romain Grosjean felt overall Baku’s designers had achieved a good compromise.
“It is a street circuit so we know the walls are here,” he said. “The difference is that we have got very high speeds here, which makes it a bit more tricky. But generally everyone is pretty happy with the way the circuit has been designed.”