For MP Motorsport Team Principal Sander Dorsman there’s one golden rule to remember when racing in Baku – to expect the unexpected. That certainly proved to be the case on Friday, after Dennis Hauger and Jehan Daruvala put themselves right in the mix for potential podiums, a performance Dorsman hopes will kickstart their quest to retain the Championship titles.
Likening Qualifying around the Baku City Circuit to roulette, their gamble on being one of the last cars to set a lap paid off as they locked out the third row, with Hauger leading the charge from fifth.
At the halfway mark in Baku Qualifying, the Red Bull junior had been on provisional pole, but track evolution meant it was always going to be a fight to the finish. Nevertheless, Dorsman is satisfied to have started off on the right foot.
“This morning Free Practice was not as good as it would be in Qualifying, but over here you never know. I think Dennis did a brilliant job, especially on the first set and then on the second set, the last run is always like a casino. Still P5 and P6, so I’m happy to have two cars solid in the top ten and then, let’s see what the race brings.
“I think both were satisfied with Quali and because they were in that window where you have to be a bit lucky with the slipstream. We’ll take it for now and let’s see for tomorrow, even Quali in F1 was crazy! We haven’t even started the race yet, so it will probably throw a couple of curveballs at us. If we can avoid some damage and have some good results here that would be nice.”
Sitting third in the Teams’ table, 29 points adrift of leaders DAMS, Dorsman says that it’s results like these that the Dutch squad need to get their title fight back on track. However, previous experience has taught him that the Azerbaijani track’s reputation for being unpredictable isn’t without merit.
After qualifying fifth last year, Felipe Drugovich kept himself out of the fray to bring home a podium in the Feature Race. Aiming to repeat a similar feat this time around, the MP team boss believes that qualifying well is only half the battle. The drivers will need to be on high alert to steer clear of any potential dangers.
“It’s a very important first step. There’s always a bit of a goal to have two cars in the top 10, so for now we are super happy with it. It’s always one of those crazy races here, so we just need to stay out of trouble, bring the cars home and let’s see where we end up.
He added “You can do a good job, but you see so often that you can get eliminated in Turn 1 or 2. Over the last few years when we look at ourselves, we have experienced all sorts of scenarios here before. For example, last year with Felipe, we didn’t have a great Quali, but he just kept his nose clean and ended up on the podium. It would be nice to copy and paste that now with two cars, perhaps that would not be a bad plan!
“It would be nice to have two cars in the top five tomorrow, but I think if you want to put some money on someone, here’s probably the worst place to do it. It’s so difficult, it’s just like a casino.”