F1 Azerbaijan GP: Leclerc leads FP2 from Perez and Verstappen

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc topped the Red Bull pair of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen in the second practice session in Baku ahead of Formula 1’s 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

F1 Azerbaijan GP: Leclerc leads FP2 from Perez and Verstappen

Huge gains in the first and second sector from the opening practice run vaulted Leclerc up the order, as he bolted to a 1m43.224s in his qualifying simulations on Friday evening.

That handed him a 0.25s advantage over FP1 pacesetter Perez, and Verstappen was again the slower of the RB18 drivers while Fernando Alonso ran impressively to net fourth place.

For the cooler and less windy evening stint, Carlos Sainz led Esteban Ocon to the end of the pitlane where they sat for 15s waiting for the track to open.

Only the Red Bulls remained in the garage after the first three minutes of running, with all selecting the C4 medium-compound Pirellis initially except the hard-shod McLaren duo.

Sainz was the first driver to gear up for a representative lap, circulating in 1m46.705s to lead Sebastian Vettel by 1.2s as Ocon was initially third.

But Alonso swiftly moved to the top as the Alpine yet again nailed the final sector - with the Spaniard fastest in S3 at the end of the hour - as he clocked a 1m46.673s to sit 0.06s clear.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18

Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

As the times kept coming down, Yuki Tsunoda and then Lewis Hamilton - massively boosted by a tow from Perez down the main straight - enjoyed brief spells in first place.

It took until the 11th minute of the 60 for Perez’s 1m45.476s yardstick from FP1 to be eclipsed, with Sainz setting the new measure courtesy of a 1m45.118s on mediums.

That gave him 1.2s in hand over a porpoising Hamilton before Perez split the difference in second and Zhou Guanyu ran third.

But then the session swung in Leclerc’s favour as tweaks to the Ferrari set-up began to pay off handsomely through the opening half of the lap - the Monegasque bringing the times down massively with his 1m43.806s.

That turn of speed rather surprised Hamilton, who replied “what the?!” over team radio when he clocked 10th and was informed of his 2.4s gap to Leclerc.

As the track offered up substantial gains, and equipped with a notably slim Alpine rear wing, two-time champion Alonso slotted into second - albeit with a second to find to Leclerc.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

A quarter of an hour had passed before defending champion Verstappen joined the action, with Red Bull having attended to his rear wing following the FP1 DRS issues with the flap appearing to wobble at higher speeds.

A first effort, though, left the Dutch racer 0.656s adrift of chief title rival Leclerc.

Out of sync with his competitors after his protracted time in the garage, Verstappen’s next attempt brought the deficit down to only three hundredths thanks to his 1m43.836s sprint.

But Leclerc remerged on soft tyres with 33 mins to go to deliver his qualifying simulation laps.

He turned in a 1m43.224s, which at the time had moved him 0.612s clear despite losing two tenths through the high-speed final sector.

The Red Bulls gave chase to fall under the 1m44s bracket but ultimately Perez was 0.248s slower and Verstappen another tenth adrift of the top before switching to race stint programmes.

Both Red Bull pilots and Sainz then struggled in the closing minutes of the session, notably aborting corners and hitting the escape roads.

George Russell, Mercedes W13

George Russell, Mercedes W13

Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

Alonso held onto fourth spot ahead of Sainz, who backed out of his potentially rapid soft-tyre qualifying push in the final sector to mask his true speed.

Pierre Gasly, meanwhile, ran to sixth for AlphaTauri ahead of George Russell in the Mercedes W13 and Tsunoda.

Ocon edged ahead of Lando Norris to complete the top 10, the McLaren driver having started the session with a five-point turn to recover from a Turn 3 excursion following a lock-up.

Vettel and Hamilton ran in 11th and 12th ahead of Lance Stroll and Daniel Ricciardo.

The Alfa Romeos again appeared unexpectedly off the pace as Valtteri Bottas ran to 15th ahead of team-mate Zhou, while Kevin Magnussen ranked 17th.

Alexander Albon’s session was notable for unusually glancing the inside wall through the flat out Turn 17 right-hand curve after correcting his steering input on entry.

Mick Schumacher (radiator leak) and Nicholas Latifi (power loss), who both missed the majority of FP1, ran at the bottom of the timing screens in 19th and 20th.

Results:

Cla Driver Chassis Time Gap Interval
1 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1'43.224    
2 Mexico Sergio Perez Red Bull 1'43.472 0.248 0.248
3 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull 1'43.580 0.356 0.108
4 Spain Fernando Alonso Alpine 1'44.142 0.918 0.562
5 Spain Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1'44.274 1.050 0.132
6 France Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1'44.315 1.091 0.041
7 United Kingdom George Russell Mercedes 1'44.548 1.324 0.233
8 Japan Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1'44.567 1.343 0.019
9 France Esteban Ocon Alpine 1'44.609 1.385 0.042
10 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren 1'44.771 1.547 0.162
11 Germany Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1'44.781 1.557 0.010
12 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1'44.874 1.650 0.093
13 Canada Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1'44.874 1.650 0.000
14 Australia Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1'45.059 1.835 0.185
15 Finland Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1'45.115 1.891 0.056
16 China Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1'45.264 2.040 0.149
17 Denmark Kevin Magnussen Haas 1'45.588 2.364 0.324
18 Thailand Alex Albon Williams 1'46.397 3.173 0.809
19 Germany Mick Schumacher Haas 1'46.425 3.201 0.028
20 Canada Nicholas Latifi Williams 1'47.218 3.994 0.793
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F1 Grand Prix practice results: Leclerc fastest in Azerbaijan GP on Friday
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