NOTEBOOK – Azerbaijan Practice

Features Notebook

There was a surprise in store as it was neither a Ferrari or a Mercedes on top in both practice sessions, as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen outpace team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.

Red Bull top times

Max Verstappen looked really strong out on track and you imagine that Red Bull are just as surprised that they topped both sessions as they have a power defect to both Mercedes and Ferrari. Verstappen was half a second faster than his team-mate in FP1, but that narrowed in FP2.

Red Bull, we said a few races ago, appeared to be stuck in their own class. They are clearly ahead of the rest of the field but not close enough to Mercedes and Ferrari. Yes, as always you need to take a pinch of salt on Friday, but doing in both sessions you need to think more seriously.

Verstappen’s afternoon wasn’t entirely clean as he crashed right at the end of FP2. He appeared to make a mistake mid Turn One and locked up while trying to correct the mistake.

Verstappen said “The whole day has been really positive, except the last lap, everything has been working well. From lap one I felt comfortable in the car, it was handling really well and I was confident with the setup.”

“I think the preparation we did at the factory and in the simulator has allowed us to come here with a strong setup and competitive car from the go. This has definitely been the most positive Friday of the year so far.”

Mercedes

Both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas appeared to struggle to find a clean lap in both sessions today, so they both finish in the mid top ten. Hamilton led Bottas despite struggling on his first run when he made a mistake. The Brit, however, didn’t manage a clean lap in FP1 either.

Hamilton again struggled to get a clean lap in FP2 as well, partly because he was caught out  by other people’s mistakes including the Sergio Perez’s mistake

Silverstone revises sessions

Organisers of the British Grand Prix have agreed to spread the track action over four days. The Formula Two and GP3 practices, subject to final agreement will take place on Thursday afternoon.

The race organisers say that they will put special Thursday tickets on sale, while allowing access for all weekend ticket holders.

The move is not unprecedented, with Melbourne having featured action on all four days for many years, while GP2 has run a practice session on Thursday in Malaysia.

A spokesperson told Motorsport.com they were working closely with FOM and the FIA to make this happen. “”f this is confirmed we will open up the Thursday afternoon of the event to all weekend ticket holders, but also will be selling a separate ticket for Thursday that will include access to the Travis concert in the evening”

Crash Bang Baku

First to crash was Force India’s, Sergio Perez. He turns into Turn Eight, hit the kerb after it appears he turned a little bit late sending him straight into the wall ripping the front and rear suspension off.

Next victim was Jolyon Palmer, he also carried too much speed into the corner and went straight on. He may have had a slight lock up on entry to the corner, which wasn’t helpful either.

Sebastian Vettel just didn’t even attempt it, he also was carrying too much speed so went straight on into the run off area. Right behind came Williams’s Felipe Massa doing exactly the same thing.

McLaren

There is no sign of improvement as in FP2 Fernando Alonso grounded once again to a halt on circuit despite having a brand new engine fitted with an upgraded power unit. The engine failed on track once again, despite Honda targeting a more competitive or reliable power unit.

Alonso’s problem doesn’t appear to be a Honda issue, it looked like a gearbox issue. However, team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne will need a full replacement, except the energy store and control electronics.

Shareholder Masour Ojjeh told Motorsport.com “This is really new territory for us. We’ve never been so uncompetitive in F1. We did have a terrible year with Peugeot, but this time around Honda has completely underestimated the job.”

Racing director Eric Boullier said “We knew coming into this race that it would be a tough weekend for the whole team. Fernando had a nice little engine upgrade to try this weekend – but, unfortunately, we broke the gearbox in FP2. It was a Friday unit, with high mileage, but we still managed to see some progress, which was good.”

Midfield

Force India and Williams appear close on track with Sergio Perez leading the pack in FP1, despite the shunt with the wall at Turn Eight. That put him three-tenths ahead of Esteban Ocon.  Williams Felipe Massa was a solid eighth after setting his time on the supersoft tyres.

In FP2, Stroll was sixth, Perez was eight fastest and Ocon was ninth. This could be another interesting battle this weekend.

Qualifying Preview

Tomorrow’s qualifying will be another close battle between Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. But, Mercedes can’t take that for granted when they as they do turn up the wick in the session. The battle will be close, but all teams need to be wary because of the street circuit can throw the odd surprise. Timing will be key!

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Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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