FP2: Perez heads Red Bull 1-2; Mercedes off the pace

Mark Scott
Sergio Perez Red Bull

Sergio Perez Red Bull

Red Bull completed a Friday practice double in Baku while Mercedes remained firmly out of the picture ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

After Max Verstappen topped first practice, it was Sergio Perez’s turn to grab the P1 spot in FP2 by pumping in a 1:42.115, a tenth quicker than the World Championship leader.

The 1-2 result for Red Bull was in stark contrast to nearest rivals Mercedes, who were all the way down in P11 and P16 with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas respectively.

The sun was still beaming down on the Baku street circuit as second practice got underway on late Friday afternoon in Azerbaijan.

Tyre warm-up on this dusty, windy track was a problem in first practice and those issues carried over into the start of FP2 as Sebastian Vettel went for a early spin and Bottas was forced into some evasive action down the escape road.

With only an hour to play with in second practice, there was a fast and frenetic pace to the session…but that came to an abrupt halt as Nicholas Latifi in his Williams brought out the first red flags of the weekend.

“Engine just died,” Latifi reported on team radio as he came to a gradual stop after Turn 15. The recovery vehicle was needed to collect his poorly FW43B.

When the session restarted with 41 minutes on the clock, it forced everyone to switch their attentions to the qualifying simulation runs.

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Sainz was the first driver to throw down his hot lap and posted a 1:42.243 for the others to beat. Team-mate Leclerc, though, found himself a couple of tenths down after his first attempt.

Further down the field, there was misfortune for Mick Schumacher who was stuck on just four completed timed laps after his Haas team worked on a drop in fuel pressure on the VF-21.

Back on track, there was yet another “I am stupid” moment for Leclerc as he locked up at Turn 15 and lost his front wing in the barrier, ruining what looked like a great chance to knock Sainz off top spot.

Leclerc was able to head back to the garage, minus a front wing, but he lost precious time as the Ferrari team gave his car the once over.

A Ferrari 1-2 on the timesheet became a Red Bull 1-2 on the timesheet as Perez and Verstappen shot to the top after their qualifying simulation runs.

And, just like in FP1, there was no sign of any pressure from Mercedes with Hamilton down in P11 and Bottas even further adrift in P16 as both Silver Arrows drivers found no improvement before their race simulation runs.

“I don’t really know where all the time is,” Hamilton said on team radio with more than a hint of dejection, shortly before aborting his last hot lap attempt.

Meanwhile, back in the Schumacher camp, his attempt to return to track action lasted just one out lap as he reported more problems with his Haas car.

There were some smiles on the other side of Haas garage, though, as we reached the closing stages of FP2. Nikita Mazepin’s engineer told him to change a setting on the wheel: “When you can, no rush.”

Mazepin: “Done.”

Engineer: “Nice job mate, nice job.”

Mazepin: “We’re not in Monaco anymore!”

You may remember Mazepin was having a hard time changing his settings on the wheel during the Monaco Grand Prix weekend.

FP2 timesheet

1 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:42.115 20
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull 0.101s 22
3 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 0.128s 23
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 0.321s 22
5 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 0.419s 25
6 Fernando Alonso Alpine 0.578s 23
7 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 0.826s 24
8 Lando Norris McLaren 0.903s 23
9 Esteban Ocon Alpine 0.905s 22
10 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1.015s 24
11 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1.041s 23
12 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 1.105s 22
13 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1.183s 22
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1.697s 20
15 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1.766s 21
16 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 2.069s 22
17 George Russell Williams 2.442s 23
18 Nikita Mazepin Haas 3.448s 22
19 Mick Schumacher Haas 3.980s 11
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams 4.868s 5

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