Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc outpaced teammate Sebastian Vettel by three-tenths of a second in second practice ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The Monacan avoided much of the drama on track to finish three tenths faster than Vettel.
After an on-track incident saw practice one abandoned teams got straight to work, but that led to a number of lockups and two crashes as the action resumed at a circuit known for its drama. However, Leclerc avoided most of the drama to set a 42.8 on the soft, six tenths ahead of Lewis Hamilton in third.
Ferrari, running an upgraded aero package and bigger rear wing, were well clear of their immediate rivals, with championship leader Lewis Hamilton nearly seven tenths off Leclerc’s time in the lead Mercedes. They will be looking to halt the Mercedes domination of the last three races.
Hamilton was six tenths off the Ferrari, and was ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who was fourth and teammate Valtteri Bottas. But it wasn’t a session without drama for the five-time champion, who made contact with Kevin Magnussen’s Haas in the closing minutes of the session as the pair went through Turn 12 together.
Daniil Kvyat was sixth showing more progress from the Honda power unit, however, the Toro Rosso driver ended his evening in the wall. With twenty-five minutes remaining, the Russian lost the rear suddenly sending the car left into the wall.
His accident ended what looked to be a promising session for the Russian. He had a late start to the session as the team fixed a problem on his car, but he had just beaten team-mate Alexander Albon by three hundredths to go sixth quickest.
Albon finished the session behind the Carlos Sainz’s McLaren, while Pierre Gasly struggled again in the second Red Bull as he could only manage ninth, nearly half a second off Verstappen’s best time.
The third red flag of the day came from Racing Point’s Lance Stroll, the Canadian had a moment at Turn Two. Stroll aborted the lap and then attempted to bail out of the corner to head up the escape road, only to hit the barrier with his front left wheel having aborted too late.
McLaren look to be the midfield leaders as Lando Norris was six tenths ahead of the Haas of Kevin Magnussen, with Antonio Giovinazzi eleventh, followed by Sergio Perez and Kimi Raikkonen.
Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo was fifteenth, however the Renault driver had a difficult afternoon, locking up and flat spotting the tyres. Although he was quick enough for fifteenth fastest, ahead of the second Haas of Romain Grosjean, with Renault teammate Nico Hulkenberg down in seventeenth/
Stroll finished the session in eighteenth ahead of Robert Kubica, the only Williams in action and five seconds off the pace.