AZERBAIJAN GP – Sergio Perez a tenth ahead of Max Verstappen in FP2 as Mercedes struggle to find pace

Testing & Race Reports

Sergio Perez led a Red Bull one two after going a tenth faster than his teammate Max Verstappen in the second practice session for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The Mexican set a 42.115 on his second lap before Verstappen couldn’t manage to find grip to try and challenge his teammate.

Perez’s time pushed Ferrari into third and fourth with Carlos Sainz almost two tenths faster than Charles Leclerc. Ferrari looks to be a close challenger to Red Bull this weekend with Sainz setting the early pace before the brief red flag caused by Nicolas Latifi stopping following a loss of power early in the session.

The Williams driver said on team radio that his “engine died,” with the car stopping at slow speed.

Ferrari appears to have carried the strong performance they showed in Monaco with Sainz only a tenth and a quarter off Perez’s fastest time. But Mercedes pace appeared not to be there as Sir Lewis Hamilton could only manage eleventh fastest, a second off the pace.

However, Leclerc was forced to abandon the lap after sliding into the wall at Turn Fifteen after locking up. He was able to return to the pits as the yellow flag prevented Hamilton from improving his lap time. Mercedes underperforming could allow Ferrari to challenge Red Bull once again this weekend.

The world champion at one point reporting “I don’t know where all the time is” as Mercedes appeared to be struggling again with tyre warm-up – the issue that has hit the Black Arrows drivers at various points across the opening races in 2021.

It appeared as if the world champions were facing similar problems to Monaco, which has a similarly low-grip track surface and where they were struggling to get the tyres into their operating temperature window.

Pierre Gasly delivered a strong session for Alpha Tauri going fifth fastest four tenths off the pace, the Frenchman was over a tenth and a half ahead of Fernando Alonso. Gasly and Alonso both briefly topped the session early on in the session as drivers got up to speed.

Antonio Giovinazzi was another surprise putting his Alfa Romeo seventh-fastest eight tenths off the pace, ahead of the McLaren of Lando Norris was eighth putting his McLaren just under eight hundredths behind. While Esteban Ocon was ninth fastest putting his Alpine a tenth ahead of Yuki Tsunoda.

Hamilton was almost a tenth faster than Kimi Raikkonen with the second McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo going thirteenth. Ricciardo was nine-tenths behind his teammate as he continues to get to grip with the McLaren.

Lance Stroll was fourteenth putting himself ahead of Aston Martin teammate Sebastian Vettel by seven-hundredths of a second. Valtteri Bottas struggled to get to grips with his Mercedes, he was almost a second behind Hamilton in sixteenth.

George Russell was fastest in the Williams-Haas battle, the Englishman going a second faster than the Haas of Nikita Mazepin in eighteenth. Mick Schumacher had a similar margin over Nicolas Latifi in twentieth.



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