Scuderia Ferrari set the fastest time overall by the end of the first day of free practice for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, courtesy of Charles Leclerc. As for Carlos Sainz, his Soft tyre run was spoilt by traffic and yellow flags and so he was unable to improve on the time he set earlier on Medium tyres.
As usual at a street track, one of the aims of the day was for the drivers to get into a rhythm with the track and its limits, these being the walls and this task was duly accomplished. Between them, Charles and Carlos completed 92 laps, 43 in the morning and 49 in the afternoon, while evaluating all the available tyre compounds.
They also worked on fine-tuning the set-up for this track, which apart from its 90-degree corners, also features very slow sections, such as turn 8 and very fast sectors, especially the final 2.2 kilometre final straight. Over the course of the two sessions, the track condition evolved considerably as the cars cleaned up the surface.
FP1. In the first hour, Charles and Carlos started out on Hard tyres, with which the Monegasque did a 1’46”999, while the Spaniard managed a 1’48”116. At the midway point, they switched to Softs on which they set their best times of the session, Leclerc stopping the clocks in 1’45”603 and Carlos getting down to 1’46”012. Charles completed 21 laps and Carlos did 22.
FP2. Both drivers ran the new rear wing from the start of the session, while continuing to evaluate the available tyre compounds, from the C3 to the C5. On the Mediums tyres, Charles managed a 1’43”806, while Carlos stopped the clocks in 1’45”118, before getting down to 1’44”274. In the second part of the hour, both F1-75s went out on Softs, with Leclerc ending up with a lap in 1’43”224, fastest overall. Sainz encountered traffic and yellow flags and could not improve on his time set on the Mediums and thus stayed fifth on the time sheet. Towards the end, Charles and Carlos ran with heavier fuel loads with Soft and Medium tyres respectively, so as to acquire as much data as possible: 24 laps for the Monegasque, 25 for the Spaniard.
Tomorrow, the third free practice session takes place at 15 local (13 CET), followed by qualifying at 18 (16 CET).
‘We had a solid first day. The progression we made from FP1 to FP2 was good and we worked well as a team.
The lap times are not representative, because no one put a proper lap together in the second session. There is still quite a bit of room for improvement. Our race pace looked quite strong and I felt good in the car. In terms of tyres, I felt comfortable on the long run and didn’t have any graining, which is another positive.’
‘It’s been an interesting Friday, as always here in Baku. There were quite a few challenges during FP1 and I was struggling a bit too much with the bottoming and the bouncing, which made the session quite uncomfortable. We worked in the right direction for FP2, improving competitiveness and feeling. Overall, it was a smooth second session despite not being able to close an entire flying lap on the Softs due to yellow flags. We look forward to making another step forward tomorrow and having a clean qualifying.’