Azerbaijan Grand Prix | Perez fastest in practice

Hamilton fails to make the top-10

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez set the pace in Azerbaijan Grand Prix practice on Friday with championship-leading teammate Max Verstappen close behind. Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes failed to make the top-10.

The Mexican driver lapped the Baku street circuit with a best time of one minute 42.115 seconds, 0.101 quicker than Verstappen.

“We’ve done very good progress, after Monaco we did a very deep analysis and today was like ‘wow, I finally understand a bit more this car, how I need to drive it’,” said Perez, who joined Red Bull this season.

“In all regards I think this is the best Friday of the season, the most complete Friday in terms of data and how comfortable I feel with the car,” added the man who has twice stood on the podium here. “I think we are definitely going to be in the mix.”

Verstappen was fastest in the first session with a time of 1:43.184.

The 23-year-old Dutch driver is four points clear of Hamilton, seizing the lead by winning in Monaco last month while Hamilton finished seventh.

Struggle

Seven-time world champion Hamilton, Verstappen’s closest rival after five races, was only 11th and more than a second off the pace as the once-dominant team struggled again.

His Finnish teammate Valtteri Bottas, the winner last time Azerbaijan hosted a race in 2019, was 16th and more than two seconds slower than Perez. He had been 10th in the first practice.

Hamilton said he had done all the laps required, without any mistakes, but the pace was missing as it had been two weeks ago in Monaco.

“We’re definitely quite a chunk down and I think everyone will be scratching their heads and looking into the data trying to figure out how we can improve,” he added.

“It didn’t feel good in this session. I was pushing, I was on the limit but the car is limited. There’s areas that it should be quicker but there’s no more grip.”

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was third in both sessions.

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