until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

Everything that happened in first F1 Baku practice

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
3 min read

Red Bull Formula 1 driver Sergio Perez led the way in the opening practice session of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix at the Baku street circuit.

Key moments:

> Monaco GP winner Perez’s strong form continues

> Ferrari bouncing, Red Bull DRS flap wobbling

> Hamilton best of the rest for Mercedes

> Reliability dramas for Latifi and Schumacher

Track action was briefly interrupted by a virtual safety car within the first 10 minutes already, as Mick Schumacher pulled over to the side of the track, his Haas seen leaking copious amounts of water. He’d reported a loss of power on the radio and was told it was “torque protection because of the water pressure” before being swiftly ordered to stop.

Another VSC stoppage followed mere minutes after the resumption, Nicholas Latifi reporting his Williams car – equipped with a fresh set of power unit components ahead of the session – “just died”, forcing him to park up in the Turn 5 run-off. Neither Schumacher, nor Latifi would return for the rest of the session.

Soon after the Williams was cleared away, Max Verstappen and team-mate Perez both posted medium-tyre laptime improvements to establish a Red Bull 1-2 ahead of the hard-shod Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.

Despite his rear wing flap oscillating massively with DRS open, Verstappen improved by nearly seven tenths once out on the softs – albeit with Perez then finding another three tenths to go up to a 1m45.476s.

Verstappen’s session then culminated in a Turn 15 spin as the chequered flag flew. “We really need to check that – I go into the corner off-throttle, downshifting, and it’s just pushing”, Verstappen reported.

Leclerc did manage to ultimately split the two Red Bulls, lapping just over a tenth off Perez, while Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz propped up the top four, half a second off the pace.

The Ferrari F1-75s were clearly affected by bouncing on the long straights of the Azerbaijani circuit, as were the Mercedes W13s – which didn’t stop Lewis Hamilton from finishing sixth, shrugging off an earlier trip to the Turn 4 escape road.

Hamilton had been on course for the ‘best of the rest’ fifth place before getting pipped by a late improvement from Alpine’s Fernando Alonso.

George Russell was a fair way back from Hamilton for much of the session but managed a late charge to place within half a tenth of his decorated team-mate – albeit with the pair split by the AlphaTauri of Yuki Tsunoda.

Tsunoda’s team-mate Pierre Gasly was on course for a last-gasp improvement before getting a massive Turn 15 lock-up that sent him down the escape road. He ended up ninth, with Esteban Ocon rounding out the top 10 – nearly eight tenths up on 11th-placed Lando Norris (McLaren).

The two Aston Martin cars in 12th and 14th had eventful sessions, with Lance Stroll brushing the barrier at Turn 15 and having a Turn 4 off but then placing two spots ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who complained of a persistent steering issue. Both set their best times on mediums.

The Alfa Romeo team, carrying a special one-off livery on both its cars this weekend, was led by Valtteri Bottas in 15th.

Practice 1 Results

Pos Name Car Best Time Gap Leader
1 Sergio Pérez Red Bull 1m45.476s
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m45.603s +0.127s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1m45.81s +0.334s
4 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1m46.012s +0.536s
5 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 1m46.571s +1.095s
6 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m46.667s +1.191s
7 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Red Bull 1m46.696s +1.22s
8 George Russell Mercedes 1m46.705s +1.229s
9 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Red Bull 1m46.83s +1.354s
10 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1m46.917s +1.441s
11 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1m47.691s +2.215s
12 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1m47.847s +2.371s
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m47.946s +2.47s
14 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes 1m47.97s +2.494s
15 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m48.078s +2.602s
16 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m48.222s +2.746s
17 Alex Albon Williams-Mercedes 1m48.419s +2.943s
18 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 1m48.81s +3.334s
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1m50.921s +5.445s
20 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari 1m58.332s +12.856s
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