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Friday images from the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Back in Baku: F1 touches down in Azerbaijan

Jun 242017

The Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Team are back in action this weekend at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix - a track that saw mixed results for the Silver Arrows last time out. Nico Rosberg won the race on his way to the world championship title, while Lewis Hamilton battled back to finish, fifth in an excellent display, after qualifying down in 10th place.

This season could again prove to be another stern test for the team, as Ferrari's resurgence, plus improved performances from Red Bull and Force India this season, could mix up the grid for Sunday's race-day.

However, confidence is high in the Silver Arrows' garage following the last race in Canada, where Lewis's won and Valtteri’s finished second. The Finn's podium means he is now in third place in the championship but with a 20-point lead over Kimi Raikkonen, who is in fourth.


Valtteri's cool driving under pressure has been encouraging since he joined the team from Williams, with MERCEDES AMG Petronas' Toto Wolff declaring he had "exceeded expectations", and Lewis is now tipping his team-mate to get even stronger as the season progresses.

Lewis said: "Valtteri has earned his place and he will continue to grow. He has done a great job, it's only his first year with the team and he has already won a grand prix. He will continue to go from strength to strength and just needs the opportunity to do so. Valtteri's energy is helping create a great harmony. When he is at the factory, he brings a great energy which everyone loves and appreciates."


Aside from Lewis's crash in qualifying, last season's inaugural race in Baku passed largely without incident, despite the 1.4-mile straight that crosses the finishing line. This season could bring more drama and Valtteri admits he does not know what to expect, given his team have not always managed to find the sweet spot with their cars this season.

Valtteri said: "As we've seen it's been extremely close in most of the races between us and Ferrari, so it is very difficult to predict, especially on a track like this.


"Some sections are a bit like Monza, some a bit like Monaco. I think it's going to be close again but sometimes we have had a bit of difficulty to get the car set up well and get the real confidence with the car and also to get all four tyres to work with each compound, so, it is impossible to predict."


Meanwhile, Valtteri says he is remaining cool about his future in the team and has revealed discussions have started about his contract, which expires in the winter.


Valtteri said: "I feel normal - because every single year in Formula One for me I've had the same situation. I've had no idea at this point what's going to be next year. So, for me it's a normal situation. I know some of the plans, when they're planning to have things sorted, but that is between us. There's no rush."