Red Bull’s Sergio Perez continued his good form in Baku on Friday, leading the first practice session for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Sergio Perez set the fastest time in Free Practice 1 at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, ahead of his teammate Max Verstappen and Ferrari rivals. The Mexican held a 0.127s lead over Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, while Max Verstappen finished third, 0.334s behind his teammate.

Carlos Sainz, Fernando Alonso, and Lewis Hamilton completed the top six, however the Alpine and Mercedes drivers were nearly a second slower than the session’s leader.

F1 teams began the opening round of a double-header in Baku, with everyone heading to Montreal next week, leaving little time to turn things around and much less time to deal with any severe damage that may occur in Azerbaijan.

While it is a street circuit, it bears little resemblance to Monaco, save for a small and twisty section, and teams use much less downforce to navigate the track’s 20-corner, 6.003-kilometer layout.

Pirelli has provided the three softest compounds in its spectrum – C3, C4, and C5 – to teams on the tyre front. In the beginning, the track was flooded with automobiles as the weather was nice and sunny.

The field got moving after the normal setup and flo-viz laps, with Verstappen posting the first benchmark time.

Haas Mick Schumacher crashed into an escape lane just eight minutes into the session, leaving his VF-22 trapped with water gushing out of its side. As the Haas was evacuated, the event caused a brief Virtual Safety Car period.

On the medium tyre, Verstappen pressed on, followed by Leclerc and Perez, but Perez leapfrogged the Ferrari driver to close to within 0.735s of his Red Bull teammate, while Leclerc trailed Verstappen by 1.189s and was just ahead of Alonso.

Perez went one better than his front-running opponents by dispatching Verstappen with a 1m45.476s that edged the latter by an amazing 0.334s.

Sainz finished third behind the Red Bull duo, ahead of Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton, but the Mercedes driver was 1.490s behind Perez.

Leclerc split the two bulls on a clear road, with 12 minutes remaining, but an early assessment suggested that Ferrari’s F1-75 is outpaced by the former’s RB18 around Baku, owing in part to a high straight-line speed.

As the session came to a close, the only change in the top five was Alonso’s late hot lap, which moved him up to fifth and dropped Hamilton to sixth. In the meantime, Verstappen gave his team a minor scare in the closing seconds of the session when he spun out completely but harmlessly at Turn 15.

Yuki Tsunoda of AlphaTauri had a strong start, finishing sixth ahead of George Russell, Pierre Gasly of his team, and Esteban Ocon of Alpine.

Lando Norris led the McLaren camp in P11, leading Lance Stroll, Kevin Magnussen, and Sebastian Vettel in the second half of the field, while Alfa Valtteri Bottas finished 15th after a lacklustre run.

Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi were among the laggards in the Williams camp, which showed no signs of improvement. Finally, Schumacher finished in P20 with only three laps under his belt.

2022 F1 AZERBAIJAN GRAND PRIX – FREE PRACTICE RESULTS (1)

POSDRIVERNAT.TEAMTIME
1Sergio PerezMEXOracle Red Bull Racing1m45.476s
2Charles LeclercMONScuderia Ferrari1m45.603s
3Max VerstappenNEDOracle Red Bull Racing1m45.810s
4Carlos SainzESPScuderia Ferrari1m46.012s
5Fernando AlonsoESPBWT Alpine F1 Team1m46.517s
6Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team1m46.667s
7Yuki TsunodaJPNScuderia AlphaTauri1m46.696s
8George RussellGBRMercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team1m46.705s
9Pierre GaslyFRAScuderia AlphaTauri1m46.830s
10Esteban OconFRABWT Alpine F1 Team1m46.917s
11Lando NorrisGBRMcLaren F1 Team1m47.691s
12Lance StrollCANAston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team1m47.847s
13Kevin MagnussenDENHaas F1 Team1m47.946s
14Sebastian VettelGERAston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team1m47.970s
15Valtteri BottasFINAlfa Romeo F1 Team Orlen1m48.078s
16Guanyu ZhouCHNAlfa Romeo F1 Team Orlen1m48.222s
17Alexander AlbonTHAWilliams Racing1m48.419s
18Daniel RicciardoAUSMcLaren F1 Team1m48.810s
19Nicholas LatifiCANWilliams Racing1m50.921s
20Mick SchumacherGERHaas F1 Team1m58.332s

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