Ferrari's Charles Leclerc beat Red Bull's Sergio Perez and championship leader Max Verstappen to top the second practice session for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. F1Technical's Balázs Szabó reports on the second session.
Red Bull showed in the opening practice that their car is the one to beat around the Baku street circuit given its characteristics and long full-throttle sections. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were eye-catchingly fast through the corners, but lost big chunk of time on the straights.
This picture slightly changed for the second session with both teams appearing to converge their setups for the second running. While the majority of the field joined the action in FP2 early on, championship leader Max Verstappen was forced to wait in the garage in the first fifteen minutes as Red Bull completed works on his rear wing and DRS actuator.
Early medium-tyred efforts saw Leclerc go fastest with a 1m 43.806s. The Monegasque then made further gains when he made the switch from the yellow-banded tyres to the soft rubber, posting a time of 1m43.224s. His team mate Sainz took only 5th, but he had a problem at the end of his hot lap that appeared to be almost identical to Leclerc’s benchmark until the third sector.
Monaco race winner Perez ended up second fastest, 0.248s slower than Leclerc could manage with Verstappen 0.356s off the pace. Reigning world champion was not particularly concerned as his hot laps were affected by yellow flags.
“I was just a bit unlucky with my soft tyre runs – in FP1 and FP2 all the time, I caught yellow flags so I had to back out. Looks like Ferrari are quite quick over one lap again. Long runs then look a little bit more even, so that’s positive… But overall, not a bad day, just need to fine-tune a few things,” the Dutchman commented.
Fernando Alonso put his Alpine quite high up the order, posting the fourth fastest lap with a time of 1m44.142s. The Spaniard opted for a low-downforce setup, confirming it by saying: “we’ll work overnight to ensure we keep this sort of pace tomorrow. We seem fast on the straights and it’s sometimes a set-up compromise with this type of circuit, but let’s see how we go tomorrow.”
His team mate Esteban Ocon finished in P9 with the French outfit appearing to be in a close fight with AlphaTauri on the streets of Baku.
Mercedes was downbeat following the opening day in Baku as George Russell and Lewis Hamilton only finished down in P7 and P12, over 1.3s off the benchmark of Leclerc. Russell said that his W13 can not generate enough heat into the tyres which leads to the huge deficit over a single flying lap.
“If we’re totally on top of the tyres we’re not going to fully close that gap – or we’re definitely not going to close that gap, they’re just too far ahead. So that’s probably 50% of our issues – the rest is just the lack of performance we have at the moment,” the young Briton said.
Although Haas and Alfa Romeo have shown great pace so far this season, both Ferrari-powered teams struggled in the opening two practices in Baku. Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu ended up only 15th and 16th fastest without having particular issues while Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher posted only the 17th and 19th quickest lap.
The German had a difficult start to his day as he his first session was curtailed by a water leak and he misjudged the braking points multiple times in the afternoon session.
Williams had a difficult session as well. Alex Albon finished in P18, but he spent most of the second session in the garage after he tapped the barriers to damage his front-left suspension. His team mate Nicholas Latifi rounded off the leaderboard, almost 4 seconds off Leclerc’s benchmark.
|2||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Rbpt||1:43.472||+0.248s||22|
|3||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Rbpt||1:43.580||+0.356s||18|
|4||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||1:44.142||+0.918s||22|
|6||10||Pierre Gasly||Alphatauri Rbpt||1:44.315||+1.091s||26|
|8||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Rbpt||1:44.567||+1.343s||24|
|9||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:44.609||+1.385s||24|
|10||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:44.771||+1.547s||23|
|11||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:44.781||+1.557s||27|
|13||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:44.874||+1.650s||26|
|14||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Mclaren Mercedes||1:45.059||+1.835s||25|
|15||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:45.115||+1.891s||25|
|16||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:45.264||+2.040s||24|
|17||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:45.588||+2.364s||26|
|18||23||Alexander Albon||Williams Mercedes||1:46.397||+3.173s||13|
|19||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||1:46.425||+3.201s||21|
|20||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:47.218||+3.994s||26|