FP1: Perez set the pace as F1 bounces into Baku

Michelle Foster
Sergio Perez worn Pirelli reds. Spain May 2022

Red Bull driver Sergio Perez worn Pirelli reds. Spain May 2022

Sergio Perez began the Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend with a P1 in Friday’s first practice as the list of those complaining about bouncing grew beyond the Mercedes drivers and Carlos Sainz.

The Formula 1 teams began their quest for the perfect Baku set-up in Friday’s first hour of practice with some getting it more right than others.

Slow-speed corners in sharp contrast to a 2.2km high-speed straight means this street circuit is unlike any other.

Perez set the pace ahead of Charles Leclerc, the Mexican driver 0.127s seconds ahead of Ferrari man with Max Verstappen P3.

Mick Schumacher and Nicholas Latifi both had a very early end to their practice, the only up side being that it was car troubles and not crashes.

Seven of the teams started Friday’s practice with wing updates as such is the uniqueness of the Baku circuit that nothing they’d used prior was up to the job.

Valtteri Bottas got the timesheet rolling with a 1:53.677 while Sebastian Vettel went “wondering down the straights” as the gusty wind caused havoc, Lewis Hamilton porpoised his way around the circuit and Sainz summed it up by saying the “bouncing doesn’t feel nice in the car”.

Schumacher was the first causality of the session, the only up side to his early end to the session – he only did three laps – being that it was the car, not the driver with water noticeably leaking from the right hand side of the Haas.

It wasn’t long before Red Bull and Ferrari resumed their battle, Verstappen P1 after 15 minutes with a 1:16.912 and Leclerc P2. Lance Stroll kissed the barrier and Latifi parked down an escape road saying the “car just died”.

With Red Bull running the medium tyres and Ferrari on the hard, Verstappen led a Red Bull 1-2 at the halfway point ahead of Perez. Pierre Gasly,  in the shop window for a 2024 drive, told AlphaTauri that the bouncing was the worst he had felt all season with both the traditional bouncers, Hamilton and George Russell, in the pits for set-up changes with no a smile insight at Mercedes.

Swapping to the soft tyres Perez was the quickest driver in FP1 with a 1:45.476, 0.127s up on Leclerc with Verstappen a further two-tenths down. Sainz was fourth as Red Bull and Ferrari dominated the timesheet ahead of Fernando Alonso and Hamilton.

Verstappen had a late off-track moment and brought out the yellows after the chequered flag as he went down an escape road.


1 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:45.476 21 laps
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 0.127s 21 laps
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull 0.334s 25 laps
4 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 0.536s 22 laps
5 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1.095s 22 laps
6 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1.191s 21 laps
7 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1.220s 25 laps
8 George Russell Mercedes 1.229s 24 laps
9 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1.354s 25 laps
10 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1.441s 21 laps
11 Lando Norris McLaren 2.215s 19 laps
12 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 2.371s 24 laps
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas 2.470s 24 laps
14 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 2.494s 22 laps
15 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Racing 2.602s 22 laps
16 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo Racing 2.746s 24 laps
17 Alex Albon Williams 2.943s 22 laps
18 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 3.334s 22 laps
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams 5.445s 7 laps
20 Mick Schumacher Haas 12.856s 3 laps