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:
|1||Max Verstappen||VER||Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT||1:42.315||22|
|3||Sergio Perez||PER||Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT||1:42.454||+0.139s||22|
|5||Lando Norris||NOR||McLaren Mercedes||1:43.125||+0.810s||22|
|6||Nyck De Vries||DEV||AlphaTauri Honda RBPT||1:43.414||+1.099s||24|
|7||Lance Stroll||STR||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:43.455||+1.140s||23|
|8||Fernando Alonso||ALO||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:43.560||+1.245s||20|
|9||Alexander Albon||ALB||Williams Mercedes||1:43.628||+1.313s||25|
|10||Zhou Guanyu||ZHO||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:43.748||+1.433s||23|
|12||Oscar Piastri||PIA||McLaren Mercedes||1:43.980||+1.665s||23|
|13||Valtteri Bottas||BOT||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:44.010||+1.695s||23|
|14||Yuki Tsunoda||TSU||AlphaTauri Honda RBPT||1:44.137||+1.822s||18|
|15||Nico Hulkenberg||HUL||Haas Ferrari||1:44.323||+2.008s||21|
|16||Logan Sargeant||SAR||Williams Mercedes||1:44.900||+2.585s||16|
|18||Esteban Ocon||OCO||Alpine Renault||1:45.955||+3.640s||8|
|19||Pierre Gasly||GAS||Alpine Renault||1:46.321||+4.006s||7|
|20||Kevin Magnussen||MAG||Haas Ferrari||1:47.498||+5.183s||8|