Red Bull meanwhile have shown incredible race pace in winning all three races so far. Quite simply, something has to give this afternoon.
Here is all you need to know about the tyres in play for the big race, and what the rules around them are.
Which tyre compounds are in use at the Azerbaijan GP?
For today's Azerbaijan Grand Prix, teams have all three dry-compound tyres to choose from as usual. These are the Pirelli ‘C3’ P Zero White hard tyre, the ‘C4’ P Zero Yellow medium tyre, and the quickest compound over a single lap, the ‘C5’ P Zero Red soft tyre.
The CF soft tyre is obviously the fastest, with an expected 0.5-second delta to the medium and a 1.5-second delta to the hard.
Wet-weather tyres - the intermediates (green) and full wets (blue) – are of course available to the teams but are unlikely to come into play with a very small chance of any rain hitting the circuit.
Pirelli Motorsport director Mario Isola explained: "We’re bringing the three softest compounds in the 2023 range, which are well suited to this venue. One of the most crucial aspects to the weekend will be not only finding the right compromise in terms of setup, but also balancing the tyre management.
"The tyres on the front axle needs to be warm enough to guarantee optimal grip – despite the long straights cooling them down – but it’s equally important not to overheat the rears in the traction phase.
What are the lap time gaps between the tyres around the Baku street circuit? ↔️
We have a change in the weekend allocation thanks to Saturday's Sprint Race, which demanded teams to run Mediums in SQ1 and SQ2.
The 10 teams each get two sets of the hard tyre, four sets of mediums, and only six sets of softs per car for the weekend.
Every driver also had four sets of the intermediate tyres and three full wets at their disposal should the heavens open.
What tyres do each team start the race on?
Drivers who qualified in the top 10 were previously required to start the grand prix on the tyres used in Q2 on a Saturday.
However, this regulation was removed ahead of the 2022 season, meaning the top 10 is now afforded a free tyre choice as well as those eliminated in the first two sessions of qualifying.
Azerbaijan Grand Prix Pit Stops: What do the stats tell us?
Last year likely would have been a one-stop race for most of the field, but virtual safety cars presented the opportunity for an extra set of tyres.
The top four in the field - headed by Red Bull pair Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez - all stopped twice. Seven of the 15 finishers though stopped only once.
The Medium was the most popular tyre to start the race with drivers shedding it early for the Hard, which showed minimal signs of deg. Pierre Gasly and Sebastian Vettel both managed 42-lap stints on the Hard.
Degradation: How hard is the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on tyres?
One important factor here is the weather, and the timing of the race. The 2022 race took place in baking temperatures in mid-June, while today we are still in April with an expected high of 24C. That likely lessens the issues presented by degradation.
The Medium, though having a short shelf life, did not provide anything out of the expected last year while the Hard performed extremely well.
In short degradation should not be an enormous issue for the field here, instead balancing temps will be the most important element.
Isola said: "So the key is to balance the temperatures successfully between front and rear, because there’s a big risk of lock-ups and the walls in Azerbaijan take no prisoners, as we’ve seen in previous races here."
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