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Max quickest in Baku opening session

Published on 28 April 2023 by Stefan Meens

Max Verstappen was quickest during the first and only practice session of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Max’ Oracle Red Bull Racing team mate Sergio Perez completed the top three in the streets of Baku.

Due to the altered sprint format, FP1 is the only practice session for the teams, with qualifying for Sunday’s Grand Prix scheduled for Friday afternoon and the sprint shootout and sprint race lined up for Saturday.

Because of the limited practice time, it is immediately busy out on track at the start of the session. Max heads out for his first laps on the medium Pirelli tyres and goes fastest on his first flying lap.

The street circuit in Baku proves a challenge for the drivers with the low downforce set-ups and slippery track conditions leading to a flurry of yellow flags with drivers escaping to run-off areas to avoid the barriers.

Not everyone is lucky enough to avoid problems in the morning session. AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda hobbles back to the pits on three wheels after suffering a puncture following contact with the wall. Piere Gasly has bigger problems after having to stop the car trackside due to a fire coming from under the engine cover, prompting a red flag. The Alpine driver joins Kevin Magnussen on the sidelines, with the latter’s Haas stranded with fuel pressure problems.

Once the stricken Alpine is recovered, the session resumes with half an hour to go. Max continues to be the pace setter with other drivers only temporarily occupying P1 before the Dutchman retaliates. Right at the end, Leclerc appaers to snatch the fastest lap from the reigning champion, but on his final lap, Max ends FP1 at the top of the timing sheets.

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Results first free practice Azerbaijan:

1Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:42.315 22
2Charles LeclercLECFerrari1:42.352+0.037s21
3Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:42.454+0.139s22
4Carlos SainzSAIFerrari1:42.899+0.584s23
5Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes1:43.125+0.810s22
6Nyck De VriesDEVAlphaTauri Honda RBPT1:43.414+1.099s24
7Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes1:43.455+1.140s23
8Fernando AlonsoALOAston Martin Mercedes1:43.560+1.245s20
9Alexander AlbonALBWilliams Mercedes1:43.628+1.313s25
10Zhou GuanyuZHOAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:43.748+1.433s23
11Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:43.798+1.483s21
12Oscar PiastriPIAMcLaren Mercedes1:43.980+1.665s23
13Valtteri BottasBOTAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:44.010+1.695s23
14Yuki TsunodaTSUAlphaTauri Honda RBPT1:44.137+1.822s18
15Nico HulkenbergHULHaas Ferrari1:44.323+2.008s21
16Logan SargeantSARWilliams Mercedes1:44.900+2.585s16
17George RussellRUSMercedes1:45.082+2.767s20
18Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault1:45.955+3.640s8
19Pierre GaslyGASAlpine Renault1:46.321+4.006s7
20Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari1:47.498+5.183s8