Formula 1 |  Azerbaijan, EL1: Pérez takes the lead ahead of Leclerc and Verstappen

Formula 1 | Azerbaijan, EL1: Pérez takes the lead ahead of Leclerc and Verstappen

The Azerbaijan F1 Grand Prix started with Free Practice 1 this Friday, under the sun but with a strong wind. The teams have brought special packages for the Grand Prix, but some are bringing some changes for the eighth race of the championship.

This is the case of Red Bull, which completely changed the floor of its single-seater. The aim is to modify the aerodynamic loads on and around the car, and the team has added reinforcements for the floor.

On the Alpine F1 side, the sidepods of the A522 have completely changed, with a significantly advanced air intake towards the cockpit. They thus sport a square shape, as can be seen at Red Bull, AlphaTauri and Aston Martin.

For the rest, the teams mainly brought front and rear wings specific to the Baku circuit. Indeed, with the long straight, it is imperative to have a good top speed. Thus, some teams have brought very thin rear wings, like Alpine and Mercedes.

For the same reason, some teams brought evolved parts. Thus, Ferrari and Mercedes have notably brought more streamlined mirror supports, while AlphaTauri has modified its beam wing, the fins at the base of the rear wing.

Red Bull and Ferrari on another planet

The drivers started the session on medium tyres, with the exception of the Ferrari drivers who were on the hard for their first sighting laps. The times quickly dropped and it was Max Verstappen who set the first benchmark in 1’46″932.

Mechanical breakdowns marked the start of this Free Practice 1 with first a leak on Mick Schumacher’s car. The Haas F1 driver complained over the radio that he had no power, and his engineer told him to stop the car immediately.

Shortly after, it was Nicholas Latifi who immobilized his Williams FW44 at the edge of the track. The Canadian pilot experienced general damage to his single-seater: “The car just died”we could hear him say on the radio.

Charles Leclerc approached the Red Bull time, but Verstappen improved to 1’46″477, while Sergio Pérez was second, 68 thousandths of a second behind his teammate. The AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda are placed in the top 5.

The cars were subject to impressive porpoising at the start of the weekend. As expected, the long straight line of the Azeri circuit provoked the phenomenon in a violent way, and we even saw Ferrari and Red Bull suffer it severely.

Verstappen put on the soft tires and improved to 1’45.810. Gasly complained about the porpoising, as did Verstappen, and we could see that the McLaren was prone to it too. On the other hand, the Alfa Romeo hardly suffers from the phenomenon, as has been the case since the start of the season.

Carlos Sainz also improved on soft tyres, two tenths of a second behind Verstappen. Pérez then took the best time quite clearly, since his 1’45″476 placed him three tenths ahead of his teammate.

Leclerc took second, and Lewis Hamilton moved up to fifth. George Russell took seventh place. The Alpine F1 drivers improved, with Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon entering the top 10 in eighth and tenth places, around Gasly.

Pérez keeps the fastest time ahead of Leclerc, Verstappen, Sainz and Alonso, who took fifth at the checkered flag. Hamilton, Tsunoda and Russell follow ahead of Alonso, Gasly and Ocon, while Lando Norris puts the first McLaren in 12th place.

Note that Verstappen spun on the last lap at turn 15, while Gasly made a mistake in the same corner. The first Haas is 13th, it’s Kevin Magnussen, and the Alfa Romeos are behind.

pos. Pilot Car Time Towers
01 Sergio Perez Red Bull RBPT RB18 1:45.476 21
02 Charles Leclerc Ferrari F1-75 1:45.603 21
03 Max Verstappen Red Bull RBPT RB18 1:45.810 25
04 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault A522 1:46.571 22
05 carlos sainz Ferrari F1-75 1:46.012 22
06 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W13 1:46.667 21
07 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri RBPT AT03 1:46.696 25
08 george russell Mercedes W13 1:46.705 24
09 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri RBPT AT03 1:46.830 25
10 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault A522 1:46.917 21
11 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes MCL36 1:47.691 19
12 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes AMR22 1:47.847 24
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari VF-22 1:47.946 24
14 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Mercedes AMR22 1:47.970 22
15 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari C42 1:48.078 22
16 Guanyu-Zhou Alfa Romeo Ferrari C42 1:48.222 24
17 Alex Albon Williams Mercedes FW44 1:48.419 22
18 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes MCL36 1:48.810 22
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes FW44 1:50.921 7
20 Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari VF-22 1:58.332 3

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