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Formula 1 Azerbaijan GP

F1 teams “nervous” about extra strain of Baku sprint damage

Formula 1 teams fear that the Azerbaijan Grand Prix sprint weekend could put a strain on spare parts due to the high risk of damage.

George Russell, Mercedes W13, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13, Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri AT03, Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin AMR22, the remainder of the field at the start

Baku is the first F1 sprint event to be held on a street circuit, and the chances of accidents occurring have been ramped up by the decision to make the sprint a standalone event.

That is being done largely to encourage drivers to take more risks and produce a better show on Saturday because there will be no impact on their grid positions for Sunday’s main event.

As an extra challenge, the Miami GP takes place the following weekend, which means that teams will have to tackle three street races in nine days, with limited time to get new parts to Florida if they are required.

“I’m nervous about a sprint in Baku because you just have not enough time to repair if you have major damage,” said Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack when asked by Autosport.com about the risks.

“Because straight after the sprint you have the covers on, and in the morning you have only three, four hours to repair your car if it’s heavily damaged.

“So there is a high risk with that exercise, but Baku it is not so difficult to overtake. If you take high risk in the corners then there is high risk obviously, but I think it will be a good show.”

McLaren team head Andrea Stella admitted that damage is a concern.

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR21, walks away from his car after hitting the wall

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR21, walks away from his car after hitting the wall

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

“Yes, we are nervous,” said the Italian. “At the same time, we are supportive of increasing the spectacle through the sprint races. Somehow, we have to adapt. There's also conversations open with the FIA and F1.

“So this is a collaborative process. Ultimately, we'll have to find the optimal point for the spectacle and also for teams to manage parts and to manage the costs in the cost cap.”

In the context of the cost cap teams are having to make a fine judgement between having enough spare parts to get through the street circuit weekends while not making too many examples of a specification that may soon be superseded as they continue to develop their cars.

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“It's always on your mind with budget cap,” said AlphaTauri technical director Jody Egginton. “The last thing you want is bits sitting on the shelf that you haven't run because you've obsoleted them and moved on without getting any benefit from them. So yeah, there is a risk.

“It's like back in the day in Monaco, you always wanted to make sure you had enough stuff because you were never sure what could happen. It's risk and reward.

“We'll take the approach we normally take and see where we are. But you can't afford, especially when you've got a very strong development programme, to be making an excess of parts.

"With our floor programme we have to manage it very carefully, because the floor development is planned to be strong, so you don't want stock lying around that you don't need.

"But at the same time, if you get a miss hit with one of the updates, you want to make sure you can roll back and have enough stock.”

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