It was a mixed Friday in F1 Azerbaijan GP where porpoising was still the big topic as Ferrari and Red Bull continued their fight at the front.
The Friday in F1 Azerbaijan GP saw porpoising issue return for most on the long straights, with the characteristics of the circuit causing off moments and wall brush. The fight at the front was again between Ferrari and Red Bull, with Mercedes a bit behind.
Sergio Perez set the pace in FP1 with Charles Leclerc doing so in FP2, but Max Verstappen and even Carlos Sainz were not far off. In terms of the fight behind, Mercedes were again a bit far off in the mix with Alpine and AlphaTauri duos.
Verstappen: “Overall it was not a bad day, we look quite decent, we just need to fine tune a few things. I was a bit unlucky with my soft tyre runs in FP1 and FP2, there were a few yellow flags so I had to back out. It seems like Ferrari is quite quick over one lap again, the long runs look a bit more even so that’s positive. The tyres seem to be working well after one lap which is good for a street circuit. We tried to fix the DRS after FP1, it seemed to be alright in FP2. My long runs went well, I did a grand total of three laps. We should have enough info now to know how to play it with tyres this weekend.”
Leclerc: “We’ve had a hard Friday because overall I think we’ve improved quite a lot from FP1 to FP2 but there’s still another step that we have to do from today to tomorrow. I also feel Iike in FP2 nobody really put a lap in and neither did we – actually I think Max and Carlos didn’t actually improve on the softs, so there’s still quite a lot of question marks. “I think the positive to take away from today is that the tyre degradation was good and the race pace was very strong, so that is good. Well I hope so. Whether it will be this weekend or not, I don’t know, but if we do everything perfect I’m confident that we’ll take it back at one point.”
Russell: “It was a tricky day, we weren’t as competitive as we would have liked. Again, a tricky track to get the tyres in the right window. You see with a number of drivers, their fastest laps were coming right at the end of the run, whereas Ferrari and Red Bull, they seemed to be able to turn it on. At the moment, they just have an inherently faster car than us and we’ve done everything we can to try and catch up. If we’re totally on top of the tyres we’re not going to fully close that gap – or we’re definitely not going to close that gap, they’re just too far ahead. So that’s probably 50% of our issues – the rest is just the lack of performance we have at the moment. There was a little bit of it but it’s just that the cars are running so close to the ground, it’s crazy out there through those high-speed corners, the car’s fully bottoming out. I think it’s the same for everybody and it’s really not comfortable to drive.”
Looking at the midfield, apart from Mercedes, the likes of Alpine and AlphaTauri duo were in the mix with McLaren close behind along with Aston Martin. While the former two found space in the Top 10, the latter two had a difficult time around the Top 10.
Alonso: “Normally in the street circuits, you put all the downforce available, [like] in Monaco and Singapore, you feel the grip on the corners, and Saturday qualifying is the priority. While Baku, even if it’s a street circuit, Sunday is a priority. Maybe the low downforce is the way to go. But the car doesn’t feel so grippy in the corners because of that downforce level, and it’s an easy weekend to make a mistake. We seem fast today, so we’ll work overnight to ensure we keep this sort of pace tomorrow. We seem fast on the straights and it’s sometimes a set-up compromise with this type of circuit, but let’s see how we go tomorrow.”
Gasly: “So far it’s been amazing. I must say I’ve really enjoyed it. The car feels good around this track and I felt good inside the car in P1 and also in P2. So far, a lot of positives. We’re not in the battle on Saturday afternoon once everyone turns the engine up and finds a bit of extra pace, so we still need to find some more performance, but so far it’s been really good. It’s just a fun track; it’s a street track so it’s the adrenaline is higher than usual, trying to find the limits in between these walls is always a challenge. I went slightly over the limits a couple of times today but no, so far, I think the car, the response is pretty how I want it. There are a couple of things we can improve for tomorrow, but I must say we end FP2 with a good base for tomorrow.”
Norris: “A tough day. Just very tricky conditions altogether. I think we made some small bits of progress with the car, but it’s difficult because of the wind. The wind makes for very difficult sessions to understand everything because of the lack of consistency, but everyone’s in the same boat, and I think we made some good progress. However, we need to make some more progress. We’ll try hard tonight, we’ll analyse all the data and all the things we learnt and try to take some steps forward for tomorrow.”
Vettel: “We had an encouraging first day today. It was incredibly windy during FP1, which meant it was very easy to lock a wheel under braking or run up an escape road. I had a couple of lock-ups but otherwise it was a pretty smooth day. We spent the first session working through a few balance issues, but the car started to come towards us in FP2. I think we are in a solid position for qualifying tomorrow.”
Joining in the tough run list were Alfa Romeo, Haas and Williams, where the former simply couldn’t break into the Top 10 due to lack of grip and balance. For the American outfit, there were issues on Mick Schumacher’s side while Kevin Magnussen couldn’t set any pace which was same for the Williams duo.
Bottas: “We progressed pretty well throughout the day, even though the start was a bit tricky, with grip levels and car balance not quite there. The track feels a little bumpier than last year, but nothing to worry about: we didn’t have any issues with bouncing, thankfully. We made quite a few setup changes during the day, and by the end the car was getting much better. I am sure there is more to unlock from it, and I didn’t get many clear laps either, including the final one in FP2, where I was making big gains but locked up a tyre and lost the lap. As usual, the midfield is very close, and I’m positive we can make a step forward overnight and improve quite a bit. I’m optimistic for qualifying and for the rest of the weekend.”
Schumacher: “It seems that the problem with the water leak came from the heavy bouncing that we suffered in the first lap, and it just wrecked the plan. It’s the first time physically that I do feel the effect of it, it’s quite harsh on the body and also on the car, so it’s definitely something to think about for future events. This track in general is quite light on tyres except for obviously the surface temperature being quite high. It will be interesting to analyse deeper today, so we have a good overview for the race.”
Albon: “Today’s gone ok. It’s been a bit tricky for us as the car felt good. It felt like one of the better cars that we’ve had so far this year. To be where we are on pace is a little bit confusing, so we need to try and understand what’s going on. We’ve got a bit of work to do on that side. We’ll go to the drawing board tonight and see what we can come up with.”
Here’s how FP1 in F1 Azerbaijan GP panned out
Here’s how FP2 in F1 Azerbaijan GP panned out