Red Bull and Ferrari continued to set the pace in the second practice session for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix with Sergio Perez coming out on top, edging his team mate Max Verstappen and Ferrari's fast duo of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc.
The majority of the field headed out on to the Baku street circuit equipped with the yellow-banded medium compound. Ferrari’s duo of Leclerc and Sainz were quick straight out of the box, dictating the pace in the early stages of the session.
The session was punctuated by Williams' Nicholas Latifi, who brought out a red flag after 13 minutes with a loss of power. The session was quickly restarted though with drivers rushing back on to the track on the soft compounds.
Ferrari once again was quick on the red-banded rubber, but Red Bull could get the upper hand with Sergio Perez setting a 1m42.115 on his second flying lap. The Mexican’s benchmark was just enough to beat his team mate by just a tenth of a second, followed by Sainz and Leclerc.
Reflecting on his afternoon, Verstappen hinted that Red Bull might have more to extract from its RB16B as the team’s setup choice for the second practice was the wrong one. „Performance wise I think we had a great start to the weekend here in Baku. It was quite windy out there today which wasn’t easy for any of us, but it definitely makes things more interesting.
“In FP1 the car felt pretty decent, I was quite comfortable and then for FP2 we made a few changes to see if it was better but I don’t think it was, so we’ll look into that overnight and see what direction we will go for qualifying,” he said.
For Ferrari, it was a far from ideal session though. Despite playing down the expectations ahead of the race weekend, the SF21 seems to have a decent speed though the challenging streets of the Baku circuit, but it seems to put too high loads on the tyres which led to excessive tyre wear on the long runs.
Furthermore, thirty-minutes in, Leclerc locked-up heavily and crashed into the Turn 15 barriers, but recovered to the pits for a new nose and was able to carry on to end up fourth.
The reigning champions endured a troublesome afternoon with Lewis Hamilton unable to do better than 11th overall while his team mate Valtteri Bottas ending up down 16th with a late spin at Turn 1.
The Briton, who currently sits in second place in the Drivers’ Championship, was left sounding demoralised after his first soft-tyred runs, telling his race engineer: "Do whatever we need to do, I'm not going to go any faster. I don't know where all the time is".
📻 "Do whatever we need to do, I'm not going to go any faster. I don't know where all the time is"— Formula 1 (@F1) June 4, 2021
Hamilton is down in P11 currently, over a second off Perez's time in P1 ⏱#AzerbaijanGP 🇦🇿 #F1 pic.twitter.com/hl7Vihs2ve
Alfa Romeo completed a successful opening day at Baku. The stopwatch also provided validation to the team’s work, with Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi being in 11th and 12th respectively after the opening session and the Italian jumping to a credible P7 in the timesheets in the afternoon, his team-mate in P12.
“It was a good way to start the weekend, the car felt ok from the morning session but of course there is still a lot that can be improved. In the end, there were a few interruptions with the yellow and red flags, which broke up the day a little, but it’s the same for everyone and we have to deal with it,” said the 2007 champion.
Haas’ drivers ended up down the order once again with Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher ending up in a distant in P18 and P19 respectively. The Swiss-born German encountered a drop in oil pressure, then a battery issue, before finishing half a second behind Mazepin.
|1||11||Sergio Perez||RED BULL RACING HONDA||1:42.115||-||22|
|2||33||Max Verstappen||RED BULL RACING HONDA||1:42.216||+0.101s||23|
|5||10||Pierre Gasly||ALPHATAURI HONDA||1:42.534||+0.419s||26|
|6||14||Fernando Alonso||ALPINE RENAULT||1:42.693||+0.578s||24|
|7||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||1:42.941||+0.826s||25|
|8||4||Lando Norris||MCLAREN MERCEDES||1:43.018||+0.903s||24|
|9||31||Esteban Ocon||ALPINE RENAULT||1:43.020||+0.905s||23|
|10||22||Yuki Tsunoda||ALPHATAURI HONDA||1:43.130||+1.015s||25|
|12||7||Kimi Räikkönen||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||1:43.220||+1.105s||23|
|13||3||Daniel Ricciardo||MCLAREN MERCEDES||1:43.298||+1.183s||23|
|14||18||Lance Stroll||ASTON MARTIN MERCEDES||1:43.812||+1.697s||21|
|15||5||Sebastian Vettel||ASTON MARTIN MERCEDES||1:43.881||+1.766s||22|
|17||63||George Russell||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||1:44.557||+2.442s||24|
|18||9||Nikita Mazepin||HAAS FERRARI||1:45.563||+3.448s||23|
|19||47||Mick Schumacher||HAAS FERRARI||1:46.095||+3.980s||12|
|20||6||Nicholas Latifi||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||1:46.983||+4.868s||5|