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#1065 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

2022-03-17 00:00

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#2022, Fulvio Conti, Nicoletta Zuppardo, Barbara Otgianu, Martina Morabito, Gabriele Calari,

#1065 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Over the weekend 10-12 June, Formula 1 returns to Baku for the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix,  eighth race of the World Championship. It is one of the Gr

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Over the weekend 10-12 June, Formula 1 returns to Baku for the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix,  eighth race of the World Championship. It is one of the Grands Prix on the calendar to be held on a non-permanent street circuit and the second consecutive race of the season to be held on this type of circuit. The contract for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in the Formula 1 World Championship calendar is valid until the 2024 season. For the second consecutive edition, and for the second time in this Championship, the the Azerbaijan Grand Prix does not have a sponsorship in the official name, as already happened in 2017 and 2018. During the 2021 championship, the organizers of the Grand Prix opened to the idea of hosting one of the Sprints of the season, but this never materialized. Present in the calendar of the Formula 1 World Championship since the 2017 season, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, now in its fifth edition, sees its dispute for the third time in June, after the events of 2017 and 2021. The Grand Prix has always been raced on the circuito of Baku, the country's capital and this track was also the site of the last edition of the European Grand Prix, raced in 2016. The organizers of the Grand Prix, already at the end of the same season, asked the Federation to be able to change the name of the race on this track to Azerbaijan Grand Prix, starting from 2017. This request was then granted by the world motoring body, who replaced the old name. This edition of the race is the first since 2019 in which the maximum capacity for spectators in the stands is allowed. After the 2020 edition of the race was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2021 edition returned to be part of the world calendar again in the month of June, behind closed doors. Several news animated the paddock in the last week. Red Bull Racing's Mexican driver Sergio Pérez, winner of the Monaco Grand Prix and the past edition of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, renews his contract with the Austrian team until the end of the 2024 season. Peter Bayer, general secretary for sport since 2017, has left the Federation. Bayer, also executive director of Formula 1 since 2021, is replaced ad interim by Shaila-Ann Rao, who has just returned to the world body after a three and a half year experience in Mercedes alongside the team principal of the German team Toto Wolff. Bayer's latest assignments within the Federation also included overseeing the investigation into the work of former race director, Australian Michael Masi, in the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

 

The outcome of the Grand Prix then led to Masi's departure from the role of referee, being replaced by the German Niels Wittich and the Portuguese Eduardo Freitas, former race directors of the DTM and the Endurance World Championship respectively. Finally, the Federation appoints Tanya Kutsenko as the first consultant to EDI. His role is to oversee the new equality, diversity and inclusion projects created by the FIA for greater inclusion in motorsport. The consultant also identifies additional academic and engineering opportunities, in collaboration with the industry's stakeholders. Negative news, however, from Williams. The British team is fined $ 25.000 by the Federation for failing to comply with points 5.1 and 8.2 of the financial regulation regarding the deadline of March 31 for the provision of documentation relating to 2021 on the budget cap. Since it was Williams herself who warned the Federation that it could not file the documentation by the deadline, the FIA proposed the so-called accepted violation agreement to the team. The Grove team pays the fine but must still provide the 2021 year report. For the characteristics of the street circuit of Baku, which combines the complexity of Monaco with the speed of Monza, Pirelli, the sole tire supplier, has selected the three softest compounds in the range: C3 as P Zero White hard, C4 as P Zero Yellow medium and C5 as P Zero Red soft. The nomination is the same as for the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, but this year's tire structure and compounds are completely new. Baku is a city circuit with a unique personality, comprising both fast straights and extremely narrow and technical sections, especially around the famous Turn 9 area in the historic center. Consequently, compared to Monaco, where the teams opt for a setup with high downforce, in Baku there is a tendency to prefer a medium-low load, to balance on the one hand the need for grip on the tightest corners, on the other the need to reach high speeds on straights to attempt overtaking. Temperatures can be high, with peaks of over 50 degrees for the asphalt, but the values can vary a lot along the lap due to the buildings that surround the track and draw alternating areas of light and shadow. Last year the one-stop strategy was the best, although the race was interrupted by a red flag in the final stages. Most of the teams opted for a soft-hard strategy, where the soft was also fitted for the final three laps of the race. This year the strategies can be different because the rule that required to mount the same tire for the start with which access to Q3 was obtained has been eliminated. In this regard Mario Isola declares:

 

"Until Jeddah came along, Baku was the fastest street circuit of the year. But the demands of this city track are still relatively low, as none of the corners take a huge amount of energy out of the tires due to the low levels of abrasion and contained lateral loads - which means that we can have the same nomination as Monaco. Having said that, the high speeds in Azerbaijan still place a certain demand on the tires. The main point is all about traction, with finding the right balance between front and rear axles being the key challenge for all the teams: you need to have enough heat in the front tires to generate grip, despite the long straights that cool them down, but not too much heat at the rear, otherwise it's easy to overheat them in the traction zones. Track temperature is also inconsistent in Baku, so all in all it's quite a specific track with a few different technical challenges, which are nonetheless the same for everyone".

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As every year, the FIA establishes the two usual zones where the drivers can activate the Drag Reduction System (DRS). The first zone is established on the long main straight of the pits, with the point of determination of the detachment of the drivers set at curve 20, while the second zone in the section between curve 2 and curve 3, with detection point placed before the second curve. The FIA also introduces changes to the track. In the month preceding the Grand Prix dispute, the Federation has made a specific request; the leaders of the Azerbaijani circuit are asked to intervene to improve safety conditions at the entrance to the pit lane. The lane, in fact, is located at the absolute fastest point of the track, where the single-seaters far exceed 300 km / h. On the occasion of the first edition of 2017, the organizers already inserted a mini chicane at the entrance of the lane, so that the drivers would pass within the maximum speed limits in the pit lane. The entrance lane of the pit lane, together with the TecPro safety barriers, now have a new configuration. A new opening at the edge of the track for the marshals is now located between Turn 1 and Turn 2, as well as a new dedicated opening in the event of a car stopping, located between Turn 3 and Turn 4. The walls present at the exit of the pit lane have been extended by eight places, and the track edge line extended up to four meters. On the eve of the Grand Prix, the race director designated by the Federation for this event, the German Niels Wittich, clarifies the procedure, according to the regulation updated for the 2022 season. The exit and entry lines may be touched by the tires, but not entirely crossed, under penalty of assigning a penalty. This decision stems from a precedent. At the end of the 2022 Monaco Grand Prix, Ferrari presented a protest to the Federation against the two Red Bull Racing drivers. According to the Italian team, Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez crossed the yellow line that marks the exit of the pit lane, after a pit stop, not staying on the right of it.

 

The protest against the two Red Bull Racing drivers was subsequently rejected as no one had entirely crossed the yellow line and that the procedure to be followed was obsolete in the race director's notes for the event and not updated to the current World Championship. Before the start of the first free practice session on Friday, the second unit relating to the internal combustion engine is installed on the cars of Max Verstappen, Sergio Pérez, Daniel Ricciardo, Lance Stroll, Alexander Albon and Nicholas Latifi, and the third unit on that of Valtteri Bottas. The second unit relating to the turbocharger is installed on the cars of Verstappen, Ricciardo, Stroll, Albon and Latifi, and the third unit on those of Charles Leclerc and Mick Schumacher. The second unit relating to the MGU-H is installed on the cars of Verstappen, Ricciardo, Stroll, Albon and Latifi. The second unit relating to the MGU-K is installed on the cars of Verstappen, Pérez, Ricciardo, Stroll, Albon and Latifi, and the third unit on that of Sebastian Vettel. The second unit relating to the exhaust system is installed on the cars of Ricciardo, Stroll, Albon and Latifi, the third unit on those of George Russell, Lewis Hamilton and Verstappen, and the fourth unit on those of Pérez, Leclerc, Yuki Tsunoda and Schumacher. The fourth gearbox and fourth transmission are installed on Mick Schumacher's car. All drivers are not penalized on the starting grid as the new components installed are among those usable in the maximum number established by the technical regulations. For this Grand Prix, the FIA appoints the German Niels Wittich as race director while the former Formula 1 driver, Mika Salo, is appointed as assistant commissioner. In the past, the Finn has held this function on several occasions, the last at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix. The British car manufacturer Aston Martin will supply both the safety car and the medical car. On the eve of free practice on Friday, Lando Norris, recovering from two weeks of high psychophysical stress, declares that he has high expectations on the Arzebaijan street circuit:

 

"I'm excited to be heading to Baku! It's cool to be at another street circuit and last year's race showed that anything can happen. It will be great to see what we can do in the new cars around this unique circuit. I've finished in the points both times I've raced at this track so hopefully I can keep that up and get some more points for the team this year. I'm feeling back to usual myself after the weekend off and I've recovered well after a tough two weeks. I'm excited to see what I can do going into this next double header, so let's get stuck in".

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Daniel Ricciardo, dissatisfied with the results in Monaco, finds new energy in Baku and in line with the thoughts of his teammate adds:

 

"I'm a big fan of the Baku Circuit, it has some exciting features and it's always a fun battle heading into Turn 1, where you often end up with three cars running side by side. There's a couple of different ways we can play it strategy wise this weekend but track position for lights out on Sunday will be important, even with the overtaking opportunities the longest straight on the calendar offers. There's always an element of unpredictability at street circuits so I'm ready to take advantage of any opportunities that come my way. Whilst Monaco wasn't quite what I wanted it to be, I'm feeling confident that we can keep pushing ahead and make the most of this weekend. Well done Baku". 


Andreas Seidl analyzes the pros and cons of this city circuit from a technical point of view, comparing it to Monaco:

 

"The team is feeling prepared for Baku after the European double header. We've been busy over the last week analyzing the data we 've gathered on our new upgrades and ensuring they're fully optimized. This has also been an opportunity for the team to rest up and get ready to go for another set of exciting back-to-back races. While both Baku and Monaco are street circuits, both require a very different approach to setting up the car. Its long straight, which sees the highest top speed on the calendar, demands a reduced downforce setup, which is rare for a street circuit. What remains the same, however, is that that any mistake is punished at a street circuit. That presents both challenges and opportunities, which I'm sure will create an exciting race. Let's keep pushing and maximise this weekend before heading over to Canada".

 

This year the Baku Grand Prix will be followed by that of Canada. Several teams are asked to analyze the possible advantages and disadvantages of two such demanding and distant races on the calendar. Guenther Steiner, Team Principal Haas, in this regard declares:

 

"The challenges are that you go from one continent to another, it's a long trip and the team is working very hard to get it all done. It's just down to having a good team around and working hard but it's a challenge as they only have a few days to get set-up again and get going again for the next race. If you have any damage on the car, it gets more difficult so we're hoping to not have any damage in Baku . On the plans for next season, it would be great if we can combine the races regionally. I know that Stefano is working very hard on that one and it will go in the right direction next year".

 

On the Baku circuit Guenther declares:

 

"My first impression was that I was surprised how nice the city and track is, not having known Baku before at all - because it wasn't on my list of places to go. I think the track has a place in the future in Formula 1. Obviously the circuit is split as you say in two elements - very fast and very twisty. I think with our car, we made good progress in Spain with the set-up of the car and it's doing well in all circumstances at the moment. We need to hit the sweet spot on the set-up and I think we can have a good result like we were going to have in Spain and Monte Carlo if things had gone differently. I'm really looking forward to going racing again this weekend".


Remaining in the Haas team, Kevin Magnussen analyzes the differences between the Monaco circuit and the Baku one and underlines the great advantages obtainable from such an unpredictable circuit:

 

"They're very different circuits but there is some carry over from every race. Baku is a lovely track, very unique with long straights and all the slow corners - I'm looking forward to it. There's always a lot of action in Baku - there's a high risk of going off and having yellow flags, safety cars etc. Historically, there's been a lot of safety cars and red flags. It always feels like there is extra opportunity in Baku than perhaps the average race".

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Kevin reached his best placement in Baku, analyzing this year's car continues:

 

“I hope it's going to be good - long straights, we've got a good engine from Ferrari so I'm not anticipating any problems. It's a bit wer-centric track with all the long straights there and power is very important".


Mick Schumacher, another Haas driver, says:

 

"Baku and Monaco are very different, so it's a matter of getting into the groove at the location. I think Baku is going to feel big compared to Monaco, that' s for sure. I would imagine to see more action and overtaking. We know that DRS this year isn't as powerful as it used to be but I'm sure with the cars being able to follow closer, we'll be able to arrive or stay closer to the car ahead in the last part of the race track and then maybe we won't need that high DRS power anymore to get by into T1. We'll just go with the flow and see how it goes. It was one of our highest finishes last seasons, so I hope with a more competitive car we're able to be higher up as well and have a good race". 


Recalling his first Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Mick says:

 

"As our car is right now, we're in a good position for Baku. For sure, we'll have to wait and see but it's been good so far. Our car has been able to comply to nearly each race track we've gone to, so I'm just excited to go racing and have a good race".


Analyzing the new Pirelli 18 "tires and the different innovations introduced for this station, the driver Hass concludes:

 

"I guess the biggest difference is that we're no longer as bound to tire saving as maybe last year, so this year the rear tires aren't the most vulnerable part, it could be the front or the rear. Driving has become very different, maybe a bit more similar to how it was in 2020 in Formula 2. Obviously, it's a very different car, very different tire but nonetheless the thermal aspect of it is a part that plays a role. Most of the time, I drive by feel and what the team tells me to do so it's about having a mixture to understand it, but I feel like we're in an ok window".

 

In AlphaTauri, Pierre Gasly does not hide the frustration for the mistakes made in qualifying in the Monaco GP but is confident in view of the Baku race, especially with respect to the results obtained in the past editions of the race:

 

"I was really gutted with how Monaco turned out because we were very quick in all the free practice sessions and I felt very comfortable with the track. We'd managed to find a good car set-up for this unique circuit and then, in the one session where we really had to get everything right, we made mistakes that cost us dear, as Qualifying is the most important session of the weekend. We did not manage it well and then, starting from the back, it's more or less mission impossible. But I was happy about the wet conditions, as that would give us more of a chance. I can be very happy with the race, taking risks, pitting on the first lap for Inters in low grip conditions, passing cars and putting on a show, so it was frustrating not be rewarded with a t least a point. As a team we know we have work to do to perform at the highest level in the coming races. We know the performance level is there, so we are going to keep pushing even if we have lacked success so far, but there are signs that we still have plenty of chances to do something good, maybe starting this weekend in Baku. I have a good feeling about this race, as the Baku track is made up of nothing but slow corners and we know that, so far this year, we seem to struggle more in high speed turns. So, I think the layout could potentially suit us. We mustn't forget there's that long main straight, so we will have to see how we deal with that. But overall, I'm reasonably optimistic we can perform well there. Last year we did really well here, as I finished on the podium in third place after qualifying fourth and it was an excellent race for the team as Yuki was also in the points in seventh. So, we come to Baku to defend that result. Getting a tow down that final long straight would be helpful for Qualifying, but apart from that, it's another street circuit, very twisty and tight with characteristics similar to Monaco".

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Yuki Tsunoda concludes:

 

"Since the last race, I've spent some time in the factory and we had several meetings to analyze what happened in Monaco. We were consistently in the top ten during all free practice sessions, so we had high expectations going into Qualifying, thinking we would get both cars into Q3. Unfortunately, it turned out to be our poorest Qualifying of the year, made worse by the fact that my problem in Q1 affected Pierre's performance too, although I'm not sure why the session was red flagged for such a small incident. But the bottom line is that you shouldn't crash into the wall in Quali! As for the race the rain, which can sometimes help, did not work in my favor. Maybe next time. Now we go to Baku, which was a really strong race for us last year. I qualified eighth and was P5 in the race until I lost a couple of places in the last moments after the red flag, which left a one lap race to the finish. There are not many downsides or parts I don't like about Baku. I particularly enjoy sector 2, where it goes past the old buildings, and there are plenty of passing opportunities not just on the very long straight, so in general I like it. I hope we can have a clean race week in Azerbaijan and score some points. The team needs to have a strong weekend, putting everything together for the best possible result. We must not repeat what happened in Monaco".

 

Sebastian Vettel, four-time world champion, recalling last year's podium declares:

 

"It's great to be back at Baku. It has been one year since I took my first podium with Aston Martin at this track, so this is a special race for me. It will be interesting to see how the new cars adapt to the circuit, especially with the mix of fast and slow speeds around the straights and tight corners, but I am ready to get back out in Azerbaijan". 


Lance Stroll, in Aston Martin, last year did not have a positive result like that of his teammate but he declares himself curious to find out how the new cars will adapt to the Arzebaijan circuit:

 

"Last year was a tricky race for me, despite the overall success of the team, but I am ready to take on this circuit again. The mix of long straights and tighter corners require a careful set-up compromise, so it will be interesting to see how these new rules work. 'm excited to see how we can perform this time around".

 

At Williams, Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance argues:

 

"The streets of Baku are a quite different challenge to those in Monaco and although there are some very tight and slow corners here, there are also long straights and fast corners to contend with There is a temptation to significantly lower the downforce and drag level for this circuit but how far it is correct to do so will depend on a range of risk-reward trades, which the drivers will have to consider during the practice sessions. Like Monaco, Pirelli have provided the softest of their compound range, which should be suited to Baku providing that they don't grain. The smooth track surface can make warm-up difficult, but this is compensated by the long lap. The camber of the roads, large gradient changes, and the varying track width all add to the challenge at this circuit and ensure that setting the car up to be strong over the full 6km lap is very tricky. He setup challenge also lead to good racing and exciting on-track battles in Azerbaijan. Taming the streets of Baku is not easy, but it can be enjoyable and rewarding when done well".

 

Nicholas Latifi continues:

 

"Baku is always a very interesting and exciting race to go to. From a track perspective, it's a high-speed street circuit in terms of the very long straights. There are repetitive cornering sequences with a lot of 90-degree corners which makes it important to dial the car set-up to suit those characteristics. It's quite nice in a way that once you find a nice rhythm on the track it's easy to find lap time in both qualifying and race trim. The one thing Baku never disappoints for is an exciting race as we've seen many over the past years. The long straight and DRS zones really aid that. Hopefully we can have a good weekend and capitalize on any opportunities that arise"

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Alex Albon is also particularly enthusiastic about being back in Baku and concludes:

 

"I really like Baku as it tends to be a circuit with a lot of opportunities. It's been a good track for me in previous years. Baku is a street circuit but presents a different challenge to what we faced in Monaco a couple of weeks ago. The races are quite unpredictable, which I think will work well for us and on paper it's a circuit that should also suit us. We'll be looking to hit the ground running from Friday onwards and come away with a good result for the team".

 

Alpine’s Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer underlines how the timeline of the new 2022 calendar is particularly challenging both for the teams and the cars themselves:

 

"It's been a busy past couple of weeks for the team with the challenges of both Barcelona and Monaco back-to -back. Now, we look ahead to another double header, this time between two continents and two unique and challenging circuits. Since its introduction to the calendar a number of years ago, Baku has always provided, above all, unpredictability, as that is the pure nature of the circuit. It's a track that brings thrilling racing with overtaking opportunities aplenty, areas of risk and reward for the drivers and there's always potential for big opportunities there, which, we must aim to be in a position to take. have a couple of circuit-specific modified aerodynamic upgrades for this weekend before activating the next batch of upgrades as part of our 2022 development plan". 


Esteban Ocon continues:

 

"It's a street circuit I enjoy, and we know that anything can happen there. Unlike Monaco, there are plenty of overtaking spots and you'll find significantly lower downforce because of the long straights and high-speed sections. We 'll be seeing wheel to wheel action down the straights which is very exciting for a track like this, but we will need find a balance between the straight-line speed for the straights and not taking too much downforce off the car to allow good lap -time through some of the slower corners. A good set up will be very important".

 

Fernando Alonso concludes:

 

"We have a lot of street circuits now in Formula 1. I do enjoy them as there is really no margin for error. Baku is a track where overtaking is very possible. In my last three races there I've managed to gain a number of places during the race, so it's very different to Monaco in that respect. It's a fun track and one where overtaking is possible. There is a mixture of high speed and low speed corners and a very long straight, so setup wise you have to be prepared for this. It'll be interesting to see how the 2022 cars find this circuit. I can't really compare it to a track we've already raced on this year. Also, Saturdays don't necessarily decide your race there too, and a Safety Car can completely shake up the order. I think it'll be a fun one and for sure I'm excited for the challenge ahead".

 

In Alfa Romeo Racing, Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal, declares himself extremely satisfied with the results obtained so far by the swiss team:

 

"We are heading to Baku with the aim to continue our team's progression this season. We have done really well so far and we can be satisfied with the results we achieved, but we know we will need to keep working hard in every round to get the most out of each weekend. We saw in Monaco how the margins are really small: you can go from P6 to P16 in a blink of an eye. This is why we need to be really sharp and make the most of every session, of every lap. I do expect our car to suit this track but, then again, our C42 has been performing well in all kinds of circuit so far. The objectives remain similar to previous rounds - progress as much as possible with both cars in qualifying and aim to have both in the points come Sunday".

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Valtteri Bottas, mindful of the unpredictable results obtained in the past years in Arzeibajan, argues:

 

"Baku is a place with both good and bad memories for me, so I definitely hope to add some more of the pleasant kind this weekend. It's crucial we can have a trouble-free weekend: we have been having some good results despite some Friday issues so far, and if we were to fix these, we could really see the full potential of our package. We know we can fight towards the front when we do it and it has to be the aim here as well. This is a track that can produce some chaotic races so we will need to be ready to make the most of any opportunity. It could be a lot of fun on Sunday". 


Zhou Guanyu concludes:

 

"I'm really looking forward to this weekend. Baku is an enjoyable track that offers a lot of opportunities and I'm aiming for a clean, good weekend in which we can really show what we can do as a team. The potential we have is obvious and I can see I'm progressing more and more each weekend: now it's a matter of putting everything together and getting the result we deserve. If we have a clean Friday and a good qualifying, we will be in the position to bring home a good result in the race".

 

Mercedes, after the first extremely uphill races of the championship, seems to be slowly regaining pace. Thanks also, and above all, to the indisputable talent of the two drivers: Lewis Hamilton and George Russell. A few hours before the start of free practice, Toto Wolff declares:

 

“We head to Baku refreshed after a hectic Monaco weekend full of red flags, delays and changeable weather. We scored solid points, but more was possible over the weekend, and we need to be maximizing every opportunity we can to stay in the fight. As in Barcelona, the slow-speed corners of Monaco presented the W13 a tough challenge but also provided us with valuable learning. With another street circuit in Baku up next, the team has been working flat-out to analyze those two races and identify the areas we can innovate to push us forward. Baku often produces some fun and crazy track action, and the layout generates good racing opportunities. So, let's see if it lives up to its reputation this weekend".

 

Finally, in Ferrari, Nicola Bariselli, Power Unit Track Operations Manager, devotes himself to a brief analysis to the microphones of the journalists. Several topics addressed by Bariselli, including an accurate comment on the Baku circuit:

 

"Baku is a street circuit but unlike any other. It is definitely atypical because in addition to the expected 90 degree corners, it also has a very low speed section, as well as particularly long straights. In fact this track has one of the longest straights of the season. It is demanding for the drivers, but Carlos, and Charles in particular, both like racing here. the nature of the circuit means the power unit has to be versatile. The driver wants it to be nicely driveable in the tight and slow sections without however wasting energy, as it's essential to be able to deploy it down the long straights. Outright power is also essential, especially when it comes to acceleration out of the many low speed corners, when going for a quick lap in qualifying as well as during the race".


The circuit of Baku is located below the sea level and this, depending on the currents, can lead to a particularly windy climate. Given the sensitivity of the current single-seaters, the wind is certainly one of the elements that can have a big impact on the performance, making the race potentially unpredictable. In this regard, Bariselli declares:

 

"The ambient conditions have a significant effect on optimizing the car-power unit package. The changes in intensity and direction of the wind in particular can produce different operating conditions in terms of speed through the corners, which therefore impact torque and gear ratio settings and time spent on the straight. It's clear that a tailwind or headwind down the last straight can have an effect of several tenths of a second".

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It Is Friday in Baku, as Ferrari Is going to seek revenge after a disappointing weekend in Monaco and especially for Leclerc, who was deprived of a probable win by a poor strategy from the Maranello pit wall. As Red Bull will try to consolidate their leadership in both championships, as both drivers are equipped with a new power unit, while Mercedes AMG will continue to work to solve the already known problems of the W13, which will heavily put to the test on the demanding Azerbaijani circuit, while defending for strong midfield teams like McLaren and Alpha Tauri who will be in search for good results. Special livery, instead, for Alfa Romeo Orlen who celebrates the launch of the Tonale SUV. For the first free practice session drivers are welcomed by a beautiful sunny day: 26 °C air temperature, 44 °C on the track. However, strong and unpredictable winds will be an issue for the drivers in their first attempt to get acquainted with Baku City Circuit. The first drivers to experience mechanical issues are Haas’s Mick Schumacher and Williams’s Nicholas Latifi: the German’s car leaks fluids along the track and is forced to stop, exactly like the Canadian, who however sees smoke coming out the back of his FW44, probably because of a problem with its Mercedes power unit. Apart from the mechanical failures, several drivers commit driving mistakes, including defending world champion Max Verstappen, who spins at turn 15. Others like Leclerc and Vettel complain about traffic, while the crazy bouncing caused by porpoising is unanimously recognized as one of the main challenges of the weekend and is particularly evident for Ferrari and Mercedes, although they are in very different situations in terms of general performance.

 

In fact, the car built by the Maranello-based manufacturer has the best splits in the middle sector, while the fast Red Bull holds the record in the other two. And it is Sergio Pérez, who celebrated here his first win with the team from Milton Keynes one year ago, the fastest man of FP1, with a time of 1'45"476. His teammate his third, as the Bulls are separated by Charles Leclerc, with a gap of 0.127s from the leader. Fourth is his teammate Sainz, as Alonso brings his Alpine to a brilliant top five, 1.095s behind. All the drivers in the top ten have set their times with soft tyres and have had to deal with the problem of porpoising, except maybe Verstappen and Pérez, who can benefit from the RB18’s great aerodynamic efficiency. The Anglo-Austrian team, however, is conducting studies on how to solve their DRS problems: after a frustrating race in Spain for Verstappen, here Red Bull is experiencing abnormal vibrations on the movable flap. FP2 starts practically with same conditions of FP1, as the wind sends on the track some items of waste that get stuck in the suspensions and brake intakes of the cars. Again, the drivers have some problems finding the limit, as many lock up or clip the walls, with Alex Albon having the worst outcome of one of these incidents, as the Thai driver damages his front-right suspension after a hit at turn 17. Hamilton continues his struggle against porpoising and complains about back pains on the radio with his engineer. The seven-time world champion seems to suffer the most from the bouncing, even though its effect is evident also on other cars. Despite a huge lock up at turn 7, it is Charles Leclerc who sets the fastest time in the second free practice session with a 1'43"224 (soft tyres). A satisfied Monegasque talks about a Friday that has witnessed him closing it as the leader of the classification:

 

"We had a solid first day. The progression we made from FP1 to FP2 was good and we worked well as a team. The lap times are not representative, because no one put a proper lap together in the second session. There is still quite a bit of room for improvement. Our race pace looked quite strong and I felt good in the car. In terms of tyres, I felt comfortable on the long run and didn't have any graining, which is another positive".

 

Pérez confirms his great shape with second place, followed by his teammate Max Verstappen, as Red Bull seems to have partially solved its rear wing problems: the movable flap of the DRS moves much less in its open position. However, there is still more work to be done according to the Mexican, even though he can count on solid basis for his set-up:

 

"It was a good start to the day but the second session didn’t go as well as we would have liked. We explored some things this afternoon and the results we wanted didn’t come but we have collected good data with both tyres, as well as on the long runs. There is a lot to look over this evening and go through to hook it up for qualifying tomorrow. Initially the long run data looks good for the race but there are a lot of details we need to look into more. I feel confident around this circuit, as always with the braking you will make some mistakes here and there so I will keep my head down and focus on eradicating that".

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Pérez is echoed by his teammate Max Verstappen, who is yet to complete a flying lap for his simulation of qualifying:

 

"Overall it was not a bad day, we look quite decent, we just need to fine tune a few things. I was a bit unlucky with my soft tyre runs in FP1 and FP2, there were a few yellow flags so I had to back out. It seems like Ferrari is quite quick over one lap again, the long runs look a bit more even so that’s positive. The tyres seem to be working well after one lap which is good for a street circuit. We tried to fix the DRS after FP1, it seemed to be alright in FP2. My long runs went well, I did a grand total of three laps [laughs]. We should have enough info now to know how to play it with tyres this weekend".

 

Alonso is an excellent fourth, with his Alpine being one of the fastest in the last sector thanks to a particularly thin rear wing, which however might cause problems with tyre degradation. On a track like Baku a compromise is always necessary, but the Spaniard has a good feeling with his car:

 

"It is always tricky here in Baku with the windy and fast circuit conditions. But I think we had a normal Friday today and we were able to test some of our new items. We still need to optimise a few things on the setup of the car ahead of Qualifying tomorrow. However, we seem fast today, so we’ll work overnight to ensure we keep this sort of pace tomorrow. We seem fast on the straights and it’s sometimes a setup compromise with this type of circuit, but let’s see how we go tomorrow".

 

Similar thoughts are shared by his French teammate Esteban Ocon:

 

"It was a decent day for us overall. Baku is a place where you really need to make the most of these practice sessions and get the laps in. Confidence is key around here, similar to Monaco, and there are many braking points that you need to hit properly as there is plenty of lap time to be found in those. The car seems competitive after today, so that’s good to see, but we’ll have to put it all together tomorrow".

 

Alan Permane, Alpine’s Sporting Director, sums up what has been a positive day for his team:

 

"We are happy with our work today. We brought some upgrades to Baku and everything seems to be working very well. The drivers are reasonably happy with the cars and there are still improvements to make of course. The two sessions ran as planned, very smoothly. We did our tyre work and have a good understanding on how the car is working, both on high and low fuel. The wind plays a part here, it can be very gusty and can catch the drivers out as we saw a few times especially around the last couple of corners that are very tricky with a tailwind today. It was a steady day and we look forward to qualifying tomorrow".

 

 

Sainz closes the top five with a gap of 1.050s from his teammate, as the Spaniard is the only one on the medium compound. He has experienced some more issues than his teammate but stays positive:

 

"It’s been an interesting Friday, as always here in Baku. There were quite a few challenges during FP1 and I was struggling a bit too much with the bottoming and the bouncing, which made the session quite uncomfortable. We worked in the right direction for FP2, improving competitiveness and feeling. Overall, it was a smooth second session despite not being able to close an entire flying lap on the Softs due to yellow flags. We look forward to making another step forward tomorrow and having a clean qualifying".

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Gasly is sixth, followed by Russell, Tsunoda, Ocon, Norris, former world champions Vettel and Hamilton, Stroll, Ricciardo, the two Alfa Romeos of Bottas and Zhou, Magnussen, Albon, Schumacher, and Latifi. Valtteri Bottas is confident he can extract more from his Alfa Romeo after an interlocutory day for him, which has seen the Finn unable to improve his position (15th) after the first two practice sessions:

 

"We progressed pretty well throughout the day, even though the start was a bit tricky, with grip levels and car balance not quite there. The track feels a little bumpier than last year, but nothing to worry about: we didn’t have any issues with bouncing, thankfully. We made quite a few setup changes during the day, and by the end the car was getting much better. I am sure there is more to unlock from it, and I didn’t get many clear laps either, including the final one in FP2, where I was making big gains but locked up a tyre and lost the lap. As usual, the midfield is very close, and I’m positive we can make a step forward overnight and improve quite a bit. I’m optimistic for qualifying and for the rest of the weekend".


Zhou Guanyu is happy with his first time in a Formula 1 car on Baku City Circuit, even though he is in the exact same situation of his teammate, occupying 16th place both in FP1 and FP2:

 

"I had an enjoyable day out there: I like this track and I feel I got up to speed with the layout reasonably quickly, especially compared to my experiences in Jeddah and Monaco. I enjoyed the push laps and didn’t make mistakes: I’m happy about this, although we obviously still have things we need to work out as a team. I’m confident we can make a step forward for tomorrow’s qualifying: the battle in the midfield between P10 and P16 is extremely tight, so if we can find a few tenths we could have a big gain in positions on the grid. There are a lot of factors at play, not least the big difference finding a tow can make to one’s lap, but we know we can be in this fight. We’ll be giving everything we can to make it happen".


Kevin Magnussen speaks for the third team powered by the Ferrari, Haas, and the Danish says he enjoys city circuits, which always offer unpredictable situations:

 

"It’s a nice track to drive, I like it. It’s a street track and it’s always just a little more exciting, a little more on the limit it feels so I enjoy it. The car feels very good actually but in FP2 we weren’t very quick which is a bit surprising - to fall back that much from FP1. Usually, the trend is that we’re better in FP2 than we are in FP1 and today it was the opposite, so we need to look into that and see if we can find something. I’m still positive, this race is a crazy one where lots can happen".

 

His ‘garage neighbour’ Mick Schumacher still needs to find stability after another Friday again hindered by mechanical issues:

 

"It seems that the problem with the water leak came from the heavy bouncing that we suffered in the first lap, and it just wrecked the plan. It’s the first time physically that I do feel the effect of it, it’s quite harsh on the body and also on the car, so it’s definitely something to think about for future events. This track in general is quite light on tires except for obviously the surface temperature being quite high. It will be interesting to analyze deeper today, so we have a good overview for the race".

 

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner sums up an intense day for his team and sets the schedule for Saturday:

 

"FP1 started badly with the water leak on Mick’s car - he couldn’t go out - which is not good at a track like this. Something strange happened and actually we’re lucky the same thing didn’t happen to Kevin as he was very close to having it happen as well, so we fixed it for FP2. FP1 was actually pretty good – we then made some changes for FP2 and we didn’t perform as we planned to perform, so we need to go back to the drawing board a little bit overnight and see what we can do for tomorrow to be able to get some performance into the car".

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Pierre Gasly continues his positive streak thanks to the good performance of his AT03, allowing him to aim optimistically at good results for the following days:

 

"So far, it’s been amazing here in Baku, I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s a really fun track to drive and, being a street circuit the adrenalin is much higher, as you’re really driving at the limit. The car feels good around here and I felt really comfortable inside the car in both FP1 and FP2, so at this point there are a lot of positives. We know the battle is on Saturday afternoon, once everyone turns their engines up and finds that extra bit of pace, so we need to go away and find something more tonight. Looking at our performance so far I think it’s going to be good".

 

Yuki Tsunoda is satisfied with his Friday too and wants to bring the consistency shown on the day of practice to the race where he will be seeking points again after two disappointing Grands Prix:

 

"I think the whole day has run smoothly for us. We’re quite happy with what we’ve managed to complete and with the performance of the car so far. We’ve gathered a lot of important data over the two sessions today, so we’ll go away and analyse this with the engineers tonight. We’ve been consistently in the top 10 and we’re looking strong within the midfield battle, so hopefully we can continue like this tomorrow".

 

Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer for Alpha Tauri, calls for some decisions to be made in terms of set-up, but is already sure of the pace shown by the Italian car:

 

"We had a productive Friday here in Baku and carried out a number of setup options on the car across the two sessions. Each option has pros and cons, so the optimal choice is not obvious, but we have gathered some strong data which we can now analyse tonight and then we’ll try and find the best for both cars tomorrow. Tyres are always a challenge here, but the high track temperatures help. We will need to see what the graining is like in the race, especially at the start when drivers are fighting hard. The circuit is very bumpy, so the car is not as easy to drive, which is hard on the drivers. Our competitiveness appears to be there over both the short and long runs, so we just need to keep doing what we have been doing and I expect that we can target points on Sunday".

 

Both Aston Martin drivers indicate their Friday as a positive day, with Sebastian Vettel in 11th position and Stroll right behind in 13th:

 

"We had an encouraging first day today. It was incredibly windy during FP1, which meant it was very easy to lock a wheel under braking or run up an escape road. I had a couple of lock-ups but otherwise it was a pretty smooth day. We spent the first session working through a few balance issues, but the car started to come towards us in FP2. I think we are in a solid position for qualifying tomorrow".

 

Says the German, who sees his teammate Lance Stroll very close to him at the end of FP2, as the two are separated by a Lewis Hamilton in great difficulties, tortured by an extreme porpoising. The Canadian driver, who sure wants to perform well at his home Grand Prix, states:

 

"We had a successful day of practice and have already learned a lot and achieved some good lap times ready for the rest of the weekend. Although I had a brush with the barrier, thankfully it did not affect our running as nothing was broken, so I managed to get away with it. It was all part of getting into the rhythm of the circuit and finding the limits. I really enjoy this track and I think it is a fun challenge, so I am very much looking forward to getting back out here tomorrow".

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For the seven-time world champion, the situation is critical, and Mercedes is struggling to find a solution. Hamilton does not hide his frustration:

 

"The hardest thing about today was the bouncing, we're hitting serious speeds at the end of the straight and bottoming out. We're facing the same problems as in the last race. We tried something experimental on my car in the second session, it didn't feel great but at least we tried it and we got some useful data to go through. We'll probably revert to the original set up tomorrow. I can't tell you one specific area which is costing us the 1.3 or 1.6 secs difference to the front, a lot of it seems to be on the straight but we need to get our heads down tonight and find solutions".

 

George Russell agrees with his teammate, but reckons the phenomenon should be extended to all the teams, because even though they have shown a good performance, they have not been able to avoid the bouncing, given the track surface and the set-up that is required to race on it:

 

"It was a tricky day and clearly we weren't as competitive as we'd have liked to be. It's a tough track to get the tyres switched on and in the right window. You saw a number of other drivers set their fastest times right at the end of a run, whereas Ferrari and Red Bull seem able to just turn it on. At the moment, they have an inherently quicker car than us and we're doing everything we can to catch up. Even if we get on top of the tyres, that's only 50% of the problem, the other 50% is just car performance. Now with the cars are running so close to the ground, in the high speed corners the cars are fully bottoming out and it's the same for everybody, it's really not comfortable to drive. I don't know what the future holds for this era of cars but I can't see us running like this for the next four years so for all of us, conversations will be needed as we're all in the same boat".

 

Andrew Shovlin reflects on a tough day for the Silver Arrows:

 

"The morning session in hotter conditions was better for us than the afternoon when it cooled somewhat but regardless, we've got a bit of work to do to find time on single lap and long run. The balance isn't a major issue but we're lacking grip in the corners and the ride on the straights is uncomfortable for the drivers, so we need to improve that overnight. Our straight-line speed also isn't great but some of that will be due to us hitting the ground on the straights. We did have some new parts on the car today, so we'll review whether those were contributing to our issues. Overall, we're not in a good position and it's one where we need to be looking for some fundamental improvements rather than a case of fine tuning".

Britain’s Lando Norris closes the day in the top 10, but the Woking-based team needs to improve to at least get back on the level of 2021. Furthermore, the McLaren driver fears he will struggle to maintain this position also on Sunday:

 

"A tough day. Just very tricky conditions altogether. I think we made some small bits of progress with the car, but it’s difficult because of the wind. The wind makes for very difficult sessions to understand everything because of the lack of consistency, but everyone’s in the same boat, and I think we made some good progress. However, we need to make some more progress. We’ll try hard tonight, we’ll analyse all the data and all the things we learnt and try to take some steps forward for tomorrow".

 

Daniel Ricciardo is still trying to get his head around the MCL36, with which he is living one of his worst seasons so far in his F1 career. Plus, the confrontation with his teammate has not helped the Aussie, who has been consistently behind him, and again here in Azerbaijan:

 

"The day was a bit mixed. We had the morning trying a few things but were a little bit behind after that session. We had good reason to try those things, but I think but seeing the performance, we changed the settings for this afternoon, and we were certainly more competitive. Now it’s just a bit of fine-tuning overnight and a little bit of fine-tuning in myself as well: clean-up a few corners - but I at least felt there was definitely more potential in the car this afternoon, so I am a bit more at-ease with that. I think we can make another nice step tomorrow".

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Executive Director for Racing Andrea Stella maintains an upbeat attitude after what has been a smooth Friday for him:

 

"We had a couple of productive sessions today in Baku. We didn’t have any problems with the cars and there were fewer disruptions than normal at this track, in terms of yellow and red flags. We could work through our programme, which was focused on car set-up, understanding the tyres for qualifying and the race, and drag-level - which is important at this track. As usual, the midfield looks very busy; we’ll do our best overnight to prepare the cars for qualifying, try to make it to Q3 and score some points on Sunday".

Williams Racing is again at the back of the grid. The team from Grove struggles to find performance and is relegated to the last positions, with the two cars separated by Mick Schumacher’s Haas in 19th place, as the German’s Friday was equally hindered by a technical issue. Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance for Williams Racing, says:

 

"We’ve had a tricky day with an electronics problem on Nicholas’s car stopping his session early in FP1 and a small brush with the wall by Alex in FP2 preventing him from completing the afternoon session. However, we have been able to complete a lot of what we had planned, and we have identified some areas to work on tonight. The car is working reasonably well at this circuit, but we need to find something else to improve the lap time and that will be our focus in FP3".

 

Alex Albon is on the same page of the engineer, and tries to find some good despite a disappointing 18th position:

 

"Today’s gone ok. It’s been a bit tricky for us as the car felt good. It felt like one of the better cars that we’ve had so far this year. To be where we are on pace is a little bit confusing, so we need to try and understand what’s going on. We’ve got a bit of work to do on that side. We’ll go to the drawing board tonight and see what we can come up with". 

 

Nicholas Latifi is again last and complains about the issue that cost him practically the whole FP1. It is common knowledge that every minute of practice is precious in Formula 1, especially on a tricky track like Baku. Despite the technical problems, however, the Canadian driver needs to improve his performance, as rumours about his seat at Williams being at risk become increasingly more insistent:

 

"Not an ideal day of practice as we missed most of FP1 through an electronical issue. In general, with street tracks you don’t want to miss any running especially on this track with how much confidence you must get into your braking points. There’s still a lot of lap time to come from me once I get that confidence from chipping away at it. We’ll do our homework tonight to get a better understanding of the direction to go with the car. There’s a bit of catching up to do but we’re going to maximise every moment to prepare us for qualifying". 

 

As always at the end of Friday, Pirelli Motorsport Director Mario Isola speaks about the tyre situation, as the Italian supplier analyses the work of the various F1 teams:

 

"The tyres behaved as expected today, with no graining and consistent performance. Usually, the FP2 session is more representative of the race than FP1, but here FP1 and FP3 actually take place at the same time as the race, while FP2 is run at the same time as qualifying. This may have an effect on the programme tomorrow, but it’s interesting to note that all the teams very much focussed on the soft and the medium in both sessions today, with very little running on the hard, which already gives an indication of the potential strategies".

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Saturday, the day of qualifying, looks promising: the very intriguing battle between Ferrari and Red Bull continues and claiming pole position will have probably more a psychological than an effective impact, since the very long straights of Baku City Circuit always provide excellent overtaking, hence great racing. It is day three in Azerbaijan and the final session of practices is going to begin in a few minutes. We will have a more detailed picture of how the cars will behave tomorrow during the race. Weather conditions are good: the air temperature is 26 degrees with 56% of humidity and the track temperature 47 degrees. The red compounds soft tyres are likely to be the crucial ones but the white ones will appear in some time in the qualifying. The start of the session will be a little delayed due to the damage occurred during the Formula 2 race which took place few minutes ago. On Friday, Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc have been the two fastest drivers and it is likely to see a little bit of rivalry between the two this weekend. The green light starts the session at 3:15 p.m. Mick Schumacher is the first to open the dances with medium tires. He gets a 43.324 in the first sector but raises his foot from the pedal and does another warming lap as he ran out on the edge of the curbs and lost precious time. Sergio Perez is not in the car, but in the garage talking with Christian Horner. it seems there is no rush of the majority of the team to start the session. Lance Stroll starts the formation lap but decides to go back into the pits.  His teammate Sebastian Vettel does the same. Ten minutes passed from the start of FP3 and no one driver has scored a best. George Russell on soft tyres starts his first lap. He gets 37.603 in the first sector, 1'21"027 in the second, and finishes in 1'47"256. Says Russell to his team:

 

"Bottoming didn’t seem too bad".

 

Sainz on soft tyres scores a purple in the first sector compared to Russell’s time, -0.028 in the second and finishes in -0.799 in 1'46"457 and takes the first position. Leclerc on soft tyres scores a purple in the first sector as he is three tenths faster than his teammate, -1.169 in the second sector, and gets -1.197 in the third, taking the lead. He scored three purple sectors with 1'45"260 and takes the lead. Bottas on soft tyres is finishing his lap in 1'48"189 in seventh position. Ten drivers have not scored yet, except Leclerc, Sainz (+1.197), Magnussen on soft tyres (1.381), Russell on soft tyres (1.996), Zhou on soft tyres (+2.262), Tsunoda on hard tyres (+2.438), Bottas on soft tyres (+2.889), Schumacher on soft tyres (+2.935) Gasly on hard tires (1'49"065) and Hamilton on soft tyres (+31.728). Russell tries again and scores  1'46"029, placing himself in second position. Hamilton tries again and scores +0.937 in the second sector, bounces through the entire third sector and gets 1'46"701 in fifth position. Alonso almost crashes into the wall as he goes straight into the corner in the second sector but he manages the risk. Perez starts his first lap and scores 0.269 in the second sector and finishes in 1'45"503 in P2, at +0.243 to Leclerc. Alonso starts his lap and scores +2.393 in second sector, and finishes in 1'47"654. 

 

Tsunoda gets 1.281 in the second and finishes in 1'46"799 in seventh position. Meanwhile, Sainz tries again and scores -0.296 in the second sector, closing in 1'44"744 in first position and making Leclerc slip down of one position. Russell is the fastest in the first sector with 37.103, +0.007 in 1'45"638 in fourth position. Hamilton is driving in the second sector and scores +0.078 and finishes in 1'46"299 in fifth position. Norris closes his lap in 1'46"977 in ten position. Leclerc scores a purple in the first sector, -0.226 and gets -0.083 and takes the lead. Until Now, Sainz had the fastest third sector. Perez is completing his lap after a purple in the second sector (42.224), compared to Leclerc’s time. He scores 1'44"416 with -0.245 compared to Leclerc’s time and takes the lead. Tsunoda scores +1.509 in the second sector and finishes in 1'46"465 while his teammate scores +1.001 in the second sector and finishes in 1'45"507 in fourth position. Verstappen, the last driver who gets on track, gets -0.091 in the first sector, compared to Perez’s time +0.023 in the second and scores 1'44"468, goes second fastest. The Red Bull seems to be very strong today. Sainz tries again, scores a purple in the first sector, -0.404 in the second, and crosses the finish line in 1'44"001 overthrowing Perez. Leclerc gets -0.592 in the first sector, -0.491 in the second, and scores -0.487 in first position. He is going faster than yesterday. The track's evolution is becoming better and better. Says Hamilton to his team:

 

"I have no rear today, mate".

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The Briton is not committing the corner because he is worried about the rear. This costs him a lot of time. Perez from the the third position tries again and improves a bit. He completes his lap in 1'43"866 climbing to the second. Verstappen tries again, gets -0.036 in the first sector, -0.067 in the second -the fastest second sector- and completes his lap in 1'43"653 in P2 at +0.139 to Leclerc. Albon crosses the finish line and gets P15 at +3.422. Ricciardo on medium tires scores +1.550 in the second and, while bouncing to the finish line, completes his lap in 1'46"026 in P8. Latifi is back to the track and the first on the second set of soft tires +0.882 in the first sector, +2.221 in the second sector, and finishes in +2.556 in tenth position. Alonso tries again, scores +0.953 in the first sector, +2.424, and completes in 1'46"299 in twelfth position. Russell is driving through the second sector, where he scores +0.584. He manages to take P5 in +1.059.

 

"Wow, no rear end there".

 

Says Russell similarly to Hamilton. The Mercedes seems a little bit unbalanced. Gasly and the two Alpha Romeo are back on the track. Gasly completes his lap in 1'44"798 in P6. Bottas is the first between the two Alpha Romeos to cross the finish line. From the seventeenth position, he climbs to the ninth (1'45"574). His teammate puts his car before Bottas’ Alpha Romeo in eight position. Tsunoda completes his lap in 1'45"479 in ninth position, three places behind Gasly. Both AlphaTauris are in the top ten at 13 minutes to the end of FP3. Vettel gets +1.252 in the second and closes in 1'44"971 in eighth position. Leclerc tries again, scores a purple in the first sector, -0.361 in the second, -0.274 in the third, improving his personal best (1'43"240). Verstappen from the seventh position starts his lap but is forced to interrupt it because the yellow flag starts to wave suddenly in the first sector. It is because of Bottas who turned his car in the second sector as he want straight. However, in few instants he is able to turn again his car and gets back to the track. Ten minutes before the end of FP3, the two Red Bulls try again. Verstappen scores +0.116 in the first sector, +0.274 in the second, completes in 1'43"449 in second position. Perez gets -0.021 in the first sector compared to Leclerc’s time, +0.047 in the second, finishing in 1'43"170 taking the lead. Sainz tries again, scores +0.899 in the first sector, +0.378 in the second, crossing the line in 1'43"596 in fourth position. The two McLarens take good positions, both Norris (+1.248) and Ricciardo (+1.306).

 

“Did you turn the engine down?"

 

Asks Hamilton to his team.

 

"Affirm Lewis, we are limited on mileage on that one".

 

Again, the yellow flag appears on track in the sector two but seems that everything is back to normality. It was Leclerc just going straight in Turn 15. Five minutes to the end of the FP3 and Perez is on top of the rank, followed by Leclerc, Verstappen and Sainz. Alonso tries again. He gets +0.676 in the first sector, +1.727 in the second, crossing the finish line in 1'44"842 in eleventh position. Verstappen gets a purple in the first sector (36.294) but then is stuck into the traffic jam. Therefore, he gives up and raises his foot from the pedal.

 

"Unbelievable, man. Cars everywhere".

 

Sainz is completing his lap in 1'43"777 in second position. Perez scores a purple in the first sector, +0.126 in the second, reaches the 320 km/h and finishes in 1'43"170 in P1, overthrowing Leclerc. FP3 ends and Perez has been the fastest into this session (1'43"170). Leclerc is in second position (+0.070), followed by Verstappen (+0.279), Sainz (+0.426), Norris (+1.248), Ricciardo (1.306) and Gasly (+1.321). Russell is in eighth (+1.403). At his back, Ocon (+1.515), Vettel (+1.519), Alonso (+1.672), Hamilton (+1.675) and Stroll (+1.709). Zhou is in fourteenth position (+1.743), followed by Magnussen (+1.749), Albon (+2.309), Schumacher (+2.362), Bottas (+2.404) and Latifi (+2.909). Qualifying is ready to take place in the third long circuit of all the season. Green lights starts the Q1. Hamilton says:

 

"It could be a lot of traffic".

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And his team replies:

 

"We need to stay on plan".

 

Temperature is dropping both air and track. Hamilton starts his formation lap and complaints:

 

"My brake pedal is really soft".

 

Norris on soft tyres is the first to start at 3:30 p.m. He gets 36.995 in the first sector, 1'19"412 in the second and takes the lead in 1'45"061. However, it lasts few instances as the two Alpines are immediately after him. Alonso scores 1'44"770 and steals the first position from Norris, while Ocon gets 1'19"307 in the second sector and crosses the finish line in 1"44"297 taking the first position from his teammate. Perez is running through the second sector, scores a purple with -1.108 compared to Ocon’s time, and closes in -1.099, taking the lead from Ocon, who slips down to the second position. Verstappen gets a purple in the first sector, -1.314 in the second, -0.260 in the third and overthrows his teammate from the first position (1'42"938). Hamilton finishes his first lap in sixth position with 1'44"517, followed by his teammate in fifteenth (1'55"886). The two Ferraris are running through the last sector. Sainz gets 1'32"897 in third position beyond the Red Bulls, but Leclerc steals his position with 1'43"225. A team radio from Russell is intercepted. He comments on how Max is driving:

 

"Verstappen is driving in an erratic manner".

 

As he seems to have impeding on Hamilton. Russell is completing the second sector, scores -1,137, and closes in 1'43"781 in fourth position. At ten minutes to the end of Q1, Alonso and Norris improve themselves. Alonso takes the sixth position while Norris the seventh. Ocon takes the sixth position from his teammate. Gasly is driving through the second sector, scores +0.600, crosses the line in 1'44"035. He goes in between Ocon and Alonso in seventh position, making Norris slip down one position. Tsunoda is in eleventh position and does not improve himself. Sainz is faster than Verstappen in the first two sectors but he does not manage to take the first position. He finishes in 1'42"957, making the two Red Bulls split taking the second position. Leclerc goes faster with two purple sectors and takes the pole in 1'42"865. The FIA stewards announce that they will investigate a case of impeding between Schumacher and his teammate in the pit lane. Zhou conquers the fifth position  (+0.912) while his teammate is in seventeenth. The two Red Bulls try again. Perez closes in 1'42"733 with a purple in the second sector. After a purple in the first sector, Verstappen finishes in 1'42"722 and steals the first position from Perez. Gasly from P8 tries again, scores 1'44"217 but does not improve. Also Hamilton tries again at five minutes to the end. From the fourteenth position, he gets the eighth with 1'43"952. The yellow flag starts to wave, because Lance Stroll hit the barrier in the second sector, but he is able to get back to the track. At three minutes to the end of Q1, the two Williams, Bottas, Stroll, and Schumacher are in the drop zone. Ricciardo from P14 starts a new lap. He scores +0.562 in the first sector. As he manages to end the first sector, the yellow flag starts to wave exactly there, where there is a piece of Stroll’s car as he hit again the barrier in Turn 2 with his front right tyres. The yellow flag becomes soon a red one, as the Stewards need to clean the track at two minutes and thirty seconds to the end of Q1. The session will resume at 6:40 p.m. local time, as the stewards need to remove Stroll’s car. When the session is finally resumed, the first team to exit from the pit lane is Mercedes. Hamilton is going very slowly out of the pit lane, followed by Russell.

 

"No margin on time, make up as clean as you can".

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Says the team radio to Mick Schumacher at 1 minute to the end, who is in P20. All the cars on the track cross the line side by side as a mini race. Hamilton gets +0.593 in the first sector, +0.671 and he finishes in ninth position (1'43"939). Tsunoda scores +0.697 in the second sector and climbs to the sixth position (1'43"596). Russell gets the seventh position in 1'43"754. Gasly gets +0.412 in the second sector and +0.546 in the third taking the fifth (1'43"768). Bottas from P17 improves enough to qualify for Q2 as he takes the fifteenth position (1'44"478). The two Hass are driving through the third sector but both drivers raise their foot from the pedal and do not complete their lap. Q1 ends and Verstappen is in the lead (1'42"722), followed by his teammate Perez (+0.011). The two Ferraris are behind with Leclerc in P3 (+0.143) and Sainz in P4 (+0.235). Gasly took P5 (+0.548), followed by Vettel (+0.557), Tsunoda (+0.873), Russell (+1.032), Zhou (+1.055), and Ocon (+1.181). Hamilton manages to qualify for Q2 in P11 (+1.217). At his back, Alonso (+1.361), Norris (+1.515), Ricciardo (+1.715), and Bottas, the last driver to qualify with +1.756. The drivers who will not take part in Q2 are Magnussen (+0.165), Albon (+1.997), Latifi (+2.645), Stroll (+2.649) and Schumacher (+3.059). Fernando did not manage to end the lap as he went long in the second sector but he manges to qualify for Q2. However, this incident seemed to have caused issues for Albon:

 

"He needs to get analysed guys, he has to. This is ridiculous. He was very slowly on purpose".

 

Speaking about the Q1, Alex Albon feels frustrated as the team had a good qualifying session and they were unlucky due to the red flag:

 

"I think we had a good qualifying session and, as a team, we maximised everything we could. We did everything right; we had a decent car, and we did the best job we could. Getting into Q2 looked difficult today but, with the red flag, we found ourselves fighting on the heels of it again. It’s frustrating to be so close to it and miss out - I am 99% sure that if I didn’t make a mistake in the last corner, I would have benefited from the slipstream that I had chosen to take, and we would have got into Q2. It’s one of those things, but I think procedurally and how we went about it; we couldn’t have achieved much more today. There’s hope here as there’s always a little bit of action and chaos, so we need a little Baku madness to happen".

 

Nicholas Latifi defines today’s Q1 as a typical Baku qualifying session with yellow and red flags. He recognises that did not get a representative lap on the first set of tires and he missed a few shifts on some turns during his fastest lap:

 

"A typical Baku qualifying session with yellow and red flags. I didn’t get a representative lap on the first set of tyres. On my fastest lap, the car missed a few shifts on a couple of corners, so I was in the wrong gears which didn’t really help. I had a big chunk of time to find but I knew I could find it on the second set. Sadly, that wasn’t possible with the red flag and then the restart right at the end. It would have been nice to put it all together to try and get the best out of the car. Full focus on the race tomorrow as anything can happen".

 

Dave Robson, Williams' Head of Vehicle Performance, highlights that both cars went well despite weather conditions in the last session of frPerformance:

 

"The car was better today despite the hotter conditions in FP3. Both drivers had good runs in FP3 and were able to finalise their setups ahead of Qualifying. The red and yellow flags in Q1 made it a difficult session in which there were winners and losers. The late rush after the red flag meant that nobody was able to prepare their tyres and manage the track position well for the final lap. Alex was well positioned on his final timed lap and, with a good tow from Alonso, could have made Q2. However, Alonso failed to complete his lap and Alex was left in 17th. Nicholas had a gearshift issue, which cost him crucial time in the first run. In the final post-red flag melee, he couldn’t get a good track position and so was unable to improve. We are checking the data from Nicholas’s car, but we don’t believe that there is anything wrong and that the gearshift strategy performed correctly in the circumstances. Tomorrow will likely be a long race with plenty of incidents and therefore opportunity".

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Kevin Magnussen explain today’s difficulties:

 

"When the red flag comes out and there’s just enough time to go out for another lap, the people at the back of the queue always struggle to get through before the time runs out. Being the first in the pitlane you’re always stuck as soon as there are two or three cars queuing up, you can’t get out, so we missed out on that last lap. We’re P16, but it’s a long day tomorrow".

 

Mick Schumacher is of the same mind. He explains that Lance’s crush made them cost a lap as they were behind Lance:

 

"We knew it was going to be tight, so it’s frustrating not to get the lap in as I think there would’ve been more potential in it. We were behind Lance when he had his mistake which cost my lap, meaning we only had one lap - which was the first run - and track improvement is quite big around here. It felt like the race had already started but it’s Baku and there are a lot of opportunities. It will be a tough but hopefully enjoyable race tomorrow".

 

Guenther Steiner agrees with Haas‘ drivers thoughts:

 

"In FP3, I think we got some of the performance back that we lost yesterday, and we were actually looking forward to qualifying. We didn’t make it out of Q1 for various reasons - between yellow flags and chaos at our last attempt when we were not allowed to get in the queue - we had to wait until the last car and it’s just not possible to do anymore. Unfortunately, that happened, and we keep saying we’re unlucky and at some stage it will change, but we know we can do better than this. Let’s see, hopefully tomorrow we can get lucky".

 

Finally, Lance Stroll expresses his frustration as he could not finish the qualifying:

 

"Obviously I am frustrated with how qualifying finished. After my first lock-up [at Turn Seven], the car still felt okay, and I knew we were running out of time in the session, which is why I decided to stay out and try for another fast lap. Then I think I braked too late into Turn Two. It is unfortunate, but there are plenty of overtaking opportunities here at Baku, and, as we have seen many times before, anything can happen here. There is still plenty to fight for tomorrow".

 

Q2 starts at 6:50 p.m. and the two Red Bull drivers are the first to get on track. Perez is the first to open the dances. He scores 35.893 in the first sector, 1'17"156, he finishes his first lap in 1'42"258 taking the lead. However, Verstappen gets 1'17"196 in the second sector and finishes in 1'42"227 taking P1 from Perez. Gasly closes in 1'43"129 in the third position. His teammate is in fifth (+1.149). Norris jumps to the sixth (+1.143). Hamilton takes P8 in 1'43"462 while his teammate is in P4 (+1.054). Sainz scores a purple in the first sector (35.880) and finishes in 1'42"088 going quickest in first position. Leclerc is driving through the third sector, after having scored a purple in the second, and finishes in 1'42"182 in P2, as he lost a little bit the rear in a corner in the last sector. Currently, the two Ferraris and two Red Bulls are at the top of the rank. Gasly from P5 scores +1.353 in the second sector but he raises his foot to try again later. Vettel hits the barrier in the second sector but he manages to move his car from the lap:

 

"Check the brake tunnel. It is low".

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Says to his team radio. Perez tries again and scores -0.093 in the second sector compared to Sainz’s time. He finishes in 1'41"955 and takes the lead. Five minutes to the end and Leclerc scores 35.799 in the first sector, the fastest sector than anyone, +0.062 in the second and closes his lap in 1'42"046 in P2. The two Alfa Romeos are crossing the finish line. Bottas remains in P15, while Zhou is a little bit quicker in P14 (+0.330). Meanwhile, the FIA race control notes an incident in turn 12 involving Hamilton as he drove unnecessarily slowly, so it will be investigated after the session. Norris and Ricciardo are completing their laps. Norris does not improve and remains in P10 as Ricciardo remains in P13. At one minute and 30 seconds to the end, Hamilton and Russell are back on track. Russell crosses the line first and from P11 he jumped to P7, while Hamilton takes P6. Vettel crosses the finish line and takes P7 from Russell. The two McLarens are trying to get through Q3. Ricciardo gets P12, not enough to go through Q3. At the same time, his teammate raises his foot from the pedal and does not complete his best. The countdown stops and Perez is in the lead (1.41.955), followed by Leclerc (+0.091), and Sainz (+0.133). Verstappen is in P4 (+0.272) followed by Gasly (+1.174), Hamilton (+1.227), Vettel (+1.313), Russell (+1.326), Alonso (+1.405), and Tsunoda, the last driver to qualify for Q3 (1'43"736). Norris (+0.022), Ricciardo (+0.198), Ocon (+0.209), Zhou (+0.414), and Bottas (+1.068) are excluded from Q3.

 

"Do not let him play silly... He will get in trouble".

 

Says Norris to his team radio as Hamilton slowed down and down as he wanted him to get through. He recognizes that he made some smaller mistakes and probably the tyres strategy in the final laps was not the best:

 

"It’s a little bit frustrating to miss-out on Q3 by such a small gap, but I think we did a decent job today. We’ve been struggling a bit more with the car here on this track and we were close. I don’t think we were miles off getting into Q3. I’d put it down to a couple of smaller mistakes by me and maybe not getting the ideal strategy for the tyres in the final few laps but I don’t think we expected a lot more today anyway. It’s still a decent position, we’re not far away from the points. The job now is to try and move forward tomorrow".

 

Daniel Ricciardo is pleased with this weekend’s performance even if the team has not reached the top ten position:

 

"After such a tough weekend in Monaco, I have to take the positives that we look more competitive here so far, and I feel a little bit more like I'm getting the feeling back that I’m after with the car. So generally, as a whole, so far I’m more pleased with this weekend but obviously we’re 11th and 12th, so it’s not positions that we’re jumping up and down over. Personally, I found some things with the car that are suiting me, and I’ve felt like I’ve been able to lean on it and be a bit more comfortable. I think with qualifying, I was maybe just expecting a little more from the step that we could make, but as a team we’ll review everything and take the small positives for now and look forward to the race".

 

Andreas Seidl, Mclaren’s Team principal finds that qualifying was what we were expecting. However, he recognizes that tomorrow they will start close to the scoring points’ positions and next to their main Constructors’ Championship competitors:

 

"Qualifying in Baku was what we were expecting. Sector Three is very challenging for our package and, despite taking some very good steps forward across the practice sessions, it just wasn’t quite enough to progress into Q3. Our focus now switches to race-prep. This is a street circuit with a history of presenting opportunities. We’re starting close to the positions scoring points, in the mix with our main Constructors’ Championship competitors all around us. Let’s go and get into the points tomorrow".

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Esteban Ocon is disappointed as the yellow flag prevented him two times today from completing a lap to get in the top ten positions:

 

"Obviously I’m disappointed given it’s the second race in a row that yellow flags in Qualifying prevented us from completing a solid lap to get us well into the top 10. The pace has been there all weekend so it’s frustrating not to put it all together today. But we know that overtaking is common here, and Baku is one of the most unpredictable circuits on the calendar on race day. We’ll need to take the opportunities that present themselves and there is no reason why we cannot end our weekend with some good points for the team".

 
Valtteri Bottas feels that the team is not where they wanted to be. He speaks about the tyres’ temperature issue he had to make the soft tyres work in the first push lap. When he finally felt better in the second, the yellow flag prevented him to try his best:

 

"Qualifying was a bit strange and we’re definitely not where we wanted to be. Tyre temperature was a key factor this afternoon, and I struggled to get the softs to work in the first push lap; in the second one, the feeling was a lot better, but unfortunately the yellow flag at the end of Q2 meant I didn’t even get to give it a try. I reckon I would have improved, but it was not to be. Nevertheless, our race pace was good yesterday and we know anything can happen in the race: it’s all to play for, I am positive we can do some good overtaking tomorrow and climb up the grid".


Zhou Guanyu recognizes that the team made a huge step forward and he is sure that they could have reached a better position than P14:

 

"We did a massive step forward throughout the weekend and I believe we had a lot more potential than P14 today: a place in Q3 would have been possible, perhaps, although the field is so tight so you can’t really say. We had prepped our tyres for a good second push lap, as we saw that was the moment in which they perform at their best, but the yellow flag with Tsunoda badly affected both our cars and prevented us from improving. In general, I am happy with the progress we have made and I think we have good pace for the race: hopefully we can put everything together and bring home some points".

 

Frédéric Vasseur, Alfa Romeo Team Principal, says that the current positions are not what they have expected to be and the result does not show the car's pontential:

 

"It’s not where we expected to be, but we know how the session unfolded and we know this result doesn’t really reflect our potential. We had both cars in Q2, Zhou was P5 with his first run and P9 at the end of Q1 with the only truly representative laps we did in the whole session: unfortunately, in Q2 we didn’t really get the chance to set a proper time and we had to settle with P14 and P15. Our aim was to be at the top of the train in the final run, and we had achieved that - unfortunately, the yellow flag never gave us the chance to show what we could do. Now let’s just focus on the race: we know our car has got pace and that this track allows overtaking. We are confident we can move forward with both cars; we anticipate an eventful Sunday, so everything can happen".

 

Q3 starts at 7:13 p.m. The two Ferraris are the first to get on  track, followed by the Red Bulls. Perez overtakes everyone and finishes right behind Leclerc. Indeed, his team tells him to slow down. Hamilton is in third position in 1'43"393 while Russell in the second in 1'42"578. Gasly is currently leading Q3 with 1'42"845. Sainz is the first to start and scores 35.729 in the first sector, scores 1'16"786 in the second, crossing the line 1'41"814 in P1. Leclerc gets the 37.718 is the fastest in the first sector at the moment, scores a new purple in the second sector, and completes his lap in 1'41"861 in P2. Perez and Verstappen are crossing the finish line. Perez is in P3 while his teammate is in P4. Vettel takes P7 (+1.277), followed by Hamilton (+1.579); Alonso (+1.862) and Tsunoda (+1.917). Five minutes to the end of Q3 and everyone is back in the garage, except Alonso and Vettel to change the tyres and refuel. All the cars are back on track at 3 minutes to the end. Sainz is the first to start. He pushes in the first sector and almost hit the barrier. He scores +0.451 in the first sector and he decides to raise his foot as he went slowly. Leclerc gets -0.114, quicker in the first sector, flies in the second, and scores -0.501. He closes in 1'41"359. He goes fastest and takes the pole position at 3 seconds to the end of Q3. Verstappen scores +0.052 in the first sector, +0.037 in the second, and +0.347 in the third. Verstappen goes second. Perez gets -0.087 in the first, +0.354 in the second. He is quicker than Verstappen and slower than Leclerc but he manages to go second with 1'41"641 with Verstappen at just 3 thousandths. Q3 ends and Leclerc gets the pole position, the fourth consecutive one. Let’s go, come on, says his team radio. Perez is in P2 (+0.282), followed by his teammate Verstappen (+0.347).

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Not bad, not bad, says Verstappen to his team. Sainz in P3 (+0.455), followed by Russell (+1.353), Gasly (+1.486), Hamilton (+1.565), Tsunoda (+1.697), Vettel (+1.732), and Alonso (+1.814). Charles Leclerc gets off his car and goes to greet his team and goes to give five to Verstappen, Sainz and Perez:

 

"Taking pole position always feels good, but this one is particularly satisfying as I wasn’t expecting it. Our competitors looked stronger than us, especially in Q1 and Q2. On my last run in Q3, everything came together. I don’t think I left much on the table and I am very happy with my lap. I really look forward to the race. I love street tracks and it’s very special to push to the limit with the walls. Tyre management will be key. It’s an element we have managed well in the past two races, so I am optimistic and just want to finish the job".

 

Carlos Sainz felt more comfortable in the car today: He underlines as starting from the first line is not crucial in this circuit because everything can happen here:

 

"It was quite a positive day on my side despite the final result. I felt better in the car and more comfortable when pushing the limits. We progressed well through the sessions and I found myself quickest before the last run. It was extremely close at the top and I knew I had to take that extra bit of risk on the last attempt. Sometimes it goes well and sometimes, like today, you miss out on a better result. Unlike other circuits, the starting position is not that critical here in Baku and anything can happen tomorrow. We’ll try to attack and gain positions during the race to bring home a strong result. The team gave us a great car again today so congrats to everyone and to Charles".

 

Laurent Mekies, the Scuderia Ferrari Racing Director, says that it was a very closely contested qualifying.

 

"It was a very closely contested qualifying. We’re now getting used to Charles producing an incredible lap in Q3 and today, on his last run, we saw once again how he can always get a little something extra out of himself and his car. Carlos also had a very good qualifying and in fact after the first run in Q3 he was quickest. At all tracks, it’s important to always be able to count on having both drivers at the front and here, we can expect a very tactical race, so having Carlos right up there with the Red Bulls means we can fight them on equal terms. Now, we are preparing for the race, along with our colleagues back in Maranello. We know that, in race trim, our closest rivals are quicker than in qualifying and maybe they have the edge over us when it comes to straight line speed. However, given what we have seen so far this weekend, I think the smallest detail can make the difference in the race, with many factors coming into play. The first of these is tyre management and as we can expect very hot conditions, race pace will be key".

 

Sergio Perez is not completely satisfied with today’s result:

 

"We were on the limit at times, chasing the lap time massively to try and improve but unfortunately we didn’t manage to make the most out of it. We had a little issue with the refueling on my car in Q3, which meant we were out of sequence for our final lap but I still think that three tenths was probably too much to find to close the gap to Ferrari. I am still on the front row and it is a long race ahead where anything can happen, especially here. We have both cars in between the Ferraris which is a good thing. Tomorrow we are going to work as a Team to try and get Ferrari and it would be ideal to get a one-two - we are going to push them hard".

 

Max Verstappen is disappointed with the car’s balance in this difficult street circuit, which meant for him a lack of consistency in the way he approached the lap:

 

"You always take quite a lot of risk and push the car to the limit on a street circuit, but you also have to be happy with the balance of the car and I didn’t have that today. It was difficult to find a good balance here, which means we’re lacking consistency in how you approach your lap. There’s still quite a bit of work to do. Looking ahead to tomorrow, the run into turn one is very short but it’s a long race, let’s see what we can do. Ferrari put in some really quick laps and it looks like they have a good pace, let’s hope we can put some good pressure on them. Past races in Baku have shown that a lot of things can happen, we just need to stay calm and focus on having a good race tomorrow".

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The Red Bull Racing Team Principal, Christian Horner, recognizes that:

 

"It’s always tricky to navigate through the sessions here with plenty of incidents and yellow flags, but both drivers extracted every last bit out of the car in their Q3 runs. Checo had a small issue whilst refuelling before Q3 that caused him to be slightly out of sequence but again, a very strong, clean lap from him to put him second on the grid, with Max incredibly close behind. Ferrari had a slight advantage over a single lap but we’re right up there in second and third on a track you can overtake on, so it should be an exciting race tomorrow".

 

George Russell is satisfied with his session. He recognizes that they have a lot to work on since Baku is a tricky circuit. On his performance, he says:

 

"It was an optimised session but being over a second from pole is not where we want to be, it's probably the biggest gap we've seen this year. It's a tricky circuit, the most amount of 'real' corners we've experienced this season, so we have lots of work to do. The lap felt good, the car felt good but obviously the gap isn't. We expect so much from ourselves and we're working so hard to bring more performance, but definitely this weekend has brought out the strengths and the weaknesses from all of us. The feeling inside the car is okay other than down the straights, every single bump is the most rigid I have ever felt from any race car before and I can barely see the braking zone. But through the corners the car feels good, so we know it's not a balance thing or not getting the car in the right window with the set up - it's more the downforce. We're balancing a lot of limitations to try and get the downforce. We know there's a lot there, but we just don't know how to extract it".

 

Lewis Hamilton looks at tomorrow’s race. For him, the session was difficult because he continued to push:

 

"There's lots to look forward to tomorrow! It's a tricky and chaotic race with lots that can happen. It was a difficult qualifying session because we're constantly pushing. We have a very, very small window where we can work this car, and everything we try doesn't give us what we want. We're making lots of changes, but we still encounter the bouncing which loses us a lot of performance. All of the performance is when you get the car low so we're getting lower and lower but it's bouncing more than the other cars and putting pressure on our bodies. But we're still there! We're just very slow on the straights, which might be a struggle tomorrow in the race. We're going to give it everything and maybe we'll have, I hope, better race pace. I don't really have any concerns with the stewards. Firstly, I was off-line, and you have to be within a delta time and I was within my delta time. Within that delta time I should be able to drive the speed I want, and being off-line I wasn't holding anyone up. I was trying to get a tow because we're so slow on the straights and the guys behind didn't want to go by, so then I just went off and did my lap".

 

After optimistically forecasting that tomorrow, the Mercedes' Team Principal Toto Wolff could win only if the four of them ahead come together in turn 1, and says that tomorrow it will about the pure pace, so it's realistic to finish fifth and sixth for them:

 

"I think the most we expected today was to be third-quickest on the road, but Gasly put in a really strong lap to get between us. There's no doubt - the gap to the front is big. It's a long lap time here and we're lacking pretty much everywhere. I wish I didn't need to look at these kinds of performance overlays in future with the guys up front. For tomorrow, if you look at it through rose-tinted glasses you can see hopefully the four of them ahead come together in turn 1 and then we can win the race. But I think on pure pace, it's realistic to finish fifth and sixth. Strategy can play a big role, you can recover and make up positions if you are on the right strategy. We can gamble given the position we are in because when you're the hunter it's a different situation, so we'll be looking at all options for the race".

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Andrew Shovlin, the trackside engineering director at the Mercedes, says that they expected to have less work to do for this race than in Monaco as it actually was, as they had to make changes overnight and they improved a few areas of performance - our straight-line speed certainly looked a little better today. However, he recognizes the huge gaps to Ferrari and Red Bull's and their main issues are the corners and bouncing on the straights:

 

"We'd hoped that the car would have been easier to work with here than in Monaco but it's not, and being realistic, the drivers did a very good job to qualify 5th and 7th. We did change quite a lot overnight and were able to improve a few areas of performance - our straight-line speed certainly looked a little better today. However, the gaps to Ferrari and Red Bull are huge and it's the corners where we are losing the most. We've definitely got problems with bouncing on the straights but without that, we'd still be lacking performance, so we clearly need to work on a number of fronts. We're at least at the right end of the midfield and will hopefully be in a position to pick up any places if either Red Bull or Ferrari have an issue but the long run picture from Friday doesn't look like we'll be in the same race as them from a pace point of view. Regardless, it's generally a crazy and unpredictable race here so we just need to make the most of it and be ready to react if opportunities arise. It's going to be hot and tough on the tyres so degradation will be important and no doubt play a part but overall, our goal is to secure third best team here and then be ready to seize any opportunity to move higher".

 

Pierre Gasly is extremely happy with his amazing result:

 

"That’s my best Quali of the year, I don’t think we could’ve hoped for anything better for the team and it’s great we’ve got both cars in the top 10 today. The team did a great job, the car works really well here, and it was a really strong Quali for us. Everything is possible here in Baku, we saw that last year with our podium. It’s very easy to make mistakes on this track, we normally see a lot of red flags, so we’ve got ourselves in a good starting position to capitalise on anything happening at the front. We’ve got one set of Hards compared to other teams that have two, so we’ll have to see in terms of our strategy what we want to do, but today I’m really happy with our overall performance".

 

Yuki Tsunoda is of the same mind:

 

"It’s been a good day, I’m really happy with that Quali. I got a bit lucky getting through to Q3, but I think the lap I did was good, especially considering it was an old set of tyres, so I’m pleased with my performance today. As a team, I think we did a fantastic job, so I want to say a big thank you to everyone. Hopefully we can carry on this performance tomorrow and we’ll look to finish the race with both cars in the points".

 

Guillaume Dezoteux, Head of Vehicle Performance, highlights that:

 

"The last free practice session highlighted how tight the midfield was going to be for Quali, with just above 0.5s difference from P5 to P16! We elected to keep only one hard tyre for the race, in order to maximise our chances in Quali by using five sets of soft tyres. The first Qualifying session was intense, especially with the red flag at 2min 30s before the end. We managed it well and both cars were able to make it through with strong laps. The second Qualifying session started very well, we went out on used tyres and continued to show the competitiveness of our package on this layout. During the new tyre run at the end of Q2, Yuki made a mistake and went long in T2 after light contact with the wall. Luckily there was no damage, and we could carry on. Q3 was great and we managed to out-qualify the midfield, as well as one of the Mercedes. Pierre wasn’t able to improve on his last attempt with new tyres, which is something we need to analyse and understand with him. Yuki had a great last lap, which is never easy after making a mistake earlier in the session. This result puts us in a strong position for tomorrow, we will review all the possible strategies to convert this good ranking into the maximum number of points in the race".

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Sebastian Vettel is satisfied with P9. He explains that he had some doubts whether he could make it in Q2 when he locked up into Turn 15:

 

"I am pretty happy with ninth position - another half-a-tenth and I could have jumped Yuki [Tsunoda], but, overall, I think it was a good session for us. In Q2, I locked up into Turn 15 - I was not sure if I could make it, then I thought I could, then I decided the best option was just to go in straight and risk damaging the front wing. That worked and I managed to crash wisely! The race will be all about controlling the tyres, and they will be tricky to manage tomorrow. It will be a lot hotter than qualifying was, but I am looking forward to it. I have been around a while, so I think I can benefit from all the experience I have".

 

Mike Krack, Aston Martin’ s Team Principal, explains the several issues that Lance had in Q1:

 

"Lance had a troubled Q1, first locking up, running wide and tapping the wall at Turn Seven, then hitting the Turn Two wall hard enough to end his run. But tomorrow is another day, and this is a circuit on which he has done very well in the past. Sebastian was very good today - confident, fast, and solid apart from a light wall-tap at Turn 15 in Q2. He ended up in ninth, and is therefore in a strong position from which to drive for points tomorrow".

 

Fernando Alonso is happy even if the team expected more after yesterday’s free practice sessions, where they were highly competitive:

 

"I am happy with the day even though we were maybe expecting more after showing decent competitiveness yesterday. We seemed to lose some of that competitiveness today so we need to look into that together. There was a lot of frustration for everyone at the end of Q1 and I understand some of the complaints, but a lot of cars were making mistakes that caused yellow flags, with a lot of cold brakes and tyres after everyone was trying to take track position. We even saw some drivers hitting the walls and when I went wide there was nothing I could do. It will be a challenging race, and anything can happen here in Baku. The points are scored tomorrow and I’m looking forward to see what we can do especially with our lower downforce setup".

 

Alpine’s Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer is of he same mind as they expected that both cars would have made it through Q3. On Ocon, he explains:

 

"Qualifying was a bit disappointing as we anticipated that both of our cars would have made Q3 today. We had the car to do that but unfortunately the circumstances were such that we were out on track when we got caught out by the yellow flag which meant that Esteban didn’t get his fast lap in. He was significantly up on his other lap so he would have been able to make it through to Q3. We must now focus on tomorrow and get ready for a race in which we will look to maximise every opportunity".

 

Finally, Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, comments the teams’ strategies towards tyres. He finds that soft tyres were the crucial ones for all the qualifying session and the FP3 and many drivers decided to alternate push laps with cool-down laps on the same set of tyres, while the track continued to evolve. On tomorrow’s strategies, he expect again to see the soft tyres as the dominant combination:

 

"We saw the soft tyre used from start to finish of qualifying, with many drivers choosing to alternate push laps with cool-down laps on the same set of tyres, while the track continued to evolve. The soft tyre was also the focus of FP3, which took place at the same time of day as tomorrow’s race, so we can expect it to play a prominent role. There are a few different options for strategy, but a one-stopper seems to be the clear way forwards on paper. Interestingly, many teams have kept back two sets of hard tyres for the race, perhaps thinking of the possibility of red flags or other disruptions".

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All the teams are well aware that in Baku Grand Prix everything can happen and nothing is totally sure. Indeed, the circuit is full of potential opportunities to exploit but also pitfalls. The yellow flag and safety cars are likely even in good weather conditions because of the circuit’s characteristics. The teams know that tomorrow’s results are far from being decided yet. On Sunday, June 12, 2022, takes place the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, eighth round of the 2022 Formula 1 World Championship. Charles Leclerc starts from the pole for the fourth straight race, followed by Sergio Perez in second position, and Max Verstappen. The other Ferrari driver, Carlos Sainz, is fourth. In fifth position there is George Russell, and Pierre Gasly. All the drivers start on medium compounds, except for Zhou Guanyu, Kevin Magnussen and Alex Albon, who are on yellow tyres. When the lights go out, Sergio Perez makes a really good start, taking the first position off Charles Leclerc, who locks up going into the first turn. So, Saturday's poleman is now running between the two Red Bulls, with Verstappen followed by Sainz. On Lap 5, Perez has a two-seconds lead on the Ferrari, while Verstappen is trying to steal the second place from Leclerc, stalking him through the narrow castle section. Sebastian Vettel is now in eighth position, while Albon moves up to the fifteenth place, even if then he loses a place to Magnussen. Instead, Nicholas Latifi gets a 10-second stop-go penalty after his mechanic touched his car after the 15-second start procedure warning.

 

Now, Leclerc has to defend his position from Max Verstappen, while on Lap 9, a Virtual Safety Car is enabled as Sainz stops at Turn 4 due to hydraulic issues. Under the VSC, Leclerc pits for hard tyres: the pit stop is slow and he emerges in third position over 10 seconds behind Verstappen. Russell, in fourth position, takes the opportunity to pit, and Pierre Gasly does the same. Red Bull put into place a different strategy, and, when the Virtual Safety Car leaves the track, Perez is still at the lead. On lap 11, Leclerc has a 12-second gap from Verstappen, while Perez has the reigning world champion two seconds behind. At the end of lap 14, Verstappen, with DRS, easily overtakes his teammate down the inside of Turn 1. At the same time, Leclerc is just eight seconds behind Perez. On lpa 16, the Mexican driver pits to switch to hard compounds. This 5.7 seconds stop has repercussions on his race as he emerges third, 18 seconds behind the leader and team mate Verstappen. Two trains are created in the midfield, both lead by Alpine. The first is led by Fernando Alonso, from the fifth position, followed by the two McLarens of Norris and Ricciardo, and Pierre Gasly. The second train is led by Esteban Ocon, who is ninth, and is made up by Lewis Hamilton and other drivers. Shortly after, Ocon is passed by Hamilton down the inside of Turn 3, while Alonso’s pit allows the McLarens  pass, while the Spanish driver emerges sixteenth. Ricciardo starts to attack Norris for the fifth position. On lap 18, Verstappen pits to switch to hard compounds and emerges second with a 13.5-second detachment from Leclerc, who is now the leader of the Grand Prix.

 

"Problem, problem, engine".

 

Says suddenly the Monegasque diver on his Team Radio, while smoke comes out from the Ferrari number 16; Leclerc is forced to get back into the pits and this is the second retirement for the Scuderia. It is also the second time in three races in which the Monegasque driver retires from the lead. Verstappen now has a five-second lead over team mate Perez, while in third place there is Russell. Gasly has a good pace on his AlphaTauri, and takes the fourth position off Ricciardo on lap 21. Yuki Tsunoda, who also pitted during the VSC, passes Ocon and takes the seventh position. Hamilton puts pressure on Ricciardo and manages to pass him for the fifth position on lap 27 at Turn 3. Gasly, in fourth place, is just 3.6 seconds ahead, but porpoising begins to create problems for the seven-time champion. Kevin Magnussen’s Haas, which is another Ferrari-powered car, retires on lap 33, bringing out another Virtual Safety Car. Verstappen, Perez and Russell pit again, while Ricciardo and Ocon do it for the first time, having begun on hard compounds. Hamilton pits for another set of hards to emerge sixth behind the two Alpha Tauris. Hamilton manages to pass Tsunoda out of Turn 16, while the Japanese driver seems to have a DRS issue, and starts lap 36 in fifth position. Tsunoda is soon forced to pit to fix his rear wing: the mechanics tap down the wing and tell him not to use DRS anymore. Verstappen is told to control his pace up front given the Ferrari retirements and not to use DRS. Hamilton tries to pass Gasly on lap 43,  while the Frenchman is told on the radio not to lose points for the team. Going into Turn 3, Gasly lost the fourth position to Hamilton.

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From this moment, the top five remain unchanged, with Verstappen who takes his fifth win of the season with more than 20 seconds of detachment from Perez. Russell takes the final podium place for Mercedes. Behind Gasly there is Vettel, who pitted during the first Virtual Safety Car and did a mistake immediately after, going off at Turn 3; he ends sixth. Alonso ran 18 laps on his starting set of mediums, so his was a one-stop strategy which made him end seventh. Ricciardo ends eighth, taking advantage from a stop during the lap 33 Virtual Safety Car. He finishes ahead of team mate Norris, who began on mediums and pitted on lap 21, with a different strategy from the Australian driver. Esteban Ocon did the same strategy of Ricciardo and takes the final point after having started thirteenth. Bad race for Alfa Romeo: Valtteri Bottas did not gain points this time, while Zhou Guanyu was forced to retire. Was the third DNF for him in four Grands Prix. Alex Albon take the twelfth position; he pitted during the first VSC and finished ahead of Tsunoda, who tried different times to take the twelfth position off the Williams with a late swap to soft tyres when he was called in to fix the DRS issue. Mick Schumacher ends ahead of Nicholas Latifi, who is last also because of the 10-second stop-go penalty for his mechanic touching his car after the 15-second warning on the grid, and a subsequent five-second penalty for ignoring blue flags during the lap 43. Great race for Red Bull, which ended with another 1-2 in this season. Sergio Perez managed to pass Leclerc at the start ad led the race during the early stages. But when the Monegasque driver pitted, there was a battleamong the two RB’s men.even if he did not win, he managed to get the bonus point for the fastest lap:

 

"I started really well, we were leading and felt we had things under control. We were a little unlucky with the timing of the VSC which made things a bit more difficult for us. When you are leading the race for the first stint, which is normally the harder one, then you think you are looking strong but that wasn’t to be the case today and that is racing. I got some bad degradation on my rear tyres, which meant I couldn’t keep Max behind, he was extremely fast and it made sense for him to pass me rather than fight it. We were told to keep certain pace on the hards once both Ferraris were out of the race and we managed the rest of it well. We have to understand where we could have got more out of the car today and go forward to Canada and make sure we are in contention once again. Today was a great result for the Team and a good day in the Constructors’ Championship".

 

Max Verstappen had a better pace than his team mate and gained the fifth victory of the season, which made him the leader of the drivers’ championship:

 

"Today we had incredible pace in the car, we could really look after the tyres and we could chip away for the lead. Checo did a good job at the start getting ahead of Charles, I got blocked in and couldn’t go anywhere. Once I was on the hard tyres and in the lead and I could just manage it and could control the gap. It would have been good to have had a battle with Charles today but he had a DNF. To get a 1-2 for the Team was really good, we’ve scored some good points today and made the gap bigger to Ferrari. There’s still a long way to go, it’s a long season so we need to keep pushing as a Team".

 

Christian Horner, thanks the team, able to capitalise on the events within the race:

 

"It’s a fantastic result for us today on a track that never fails to deliver the unexpected. I think it’s a shame that the fans didn’t get to see how the strategy would have played out today, Ferrari stopped very early under that virtual safety car, and with us going onto the hard tyre that much later, I think that would have given us the advantage towards the end of the race. But we managed to capitalise on the events within the race with both drivers driving fantastically. We asked them to race each other cleanly and fairly and that’s what they did. They’re doing a great job for the Team and we’re very proud of what the whole team has achieved today".

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It was a terrible day for Ferrari, with both cars retiring from the race. Sainz was the first, on lap 9, becase of an hydraulic issue:

 

"Today's result is hard to accept. After the start we opened the gap to manage the tyres and try to extend the first stint longer into the race. Unfortunately, a hydraulic problem occurred on lap 9 and that was it. Together with Charles’ issue, this is definitely a difficult day for the entire team and our fans, as we lost valuable points and mileage. For one reason or another, it’s been complicated to build a strong momentum so far this season. However, we are a very strong team and I have absolutely no doubt we have the ability and determination to come back stronger. There is still a long way to go this year. On to Canada".

 

Charles Leclerc ran secondin the early stages, and then pitted under the Virtual Safety Car, emerging third. He was forcedto retire due to problems in the Power Unit, so he gained no points in the championship:

 

"It’s a disappointing outcome for us today. At the beginning of the first stint on the Mediums we weren’t particularly strong, but towards the end of it, we started catching Checo (Perez). During the Virtual Safety Car, we decided to take the opportunity and pit for Hards, which was the right thing to do. It put us in a position where we could lead the race and what we had to focus on from then on was managing the tyres to the end. We then had an issue with the power unit and had to retire. It’s time to go home and reset before Canada. We have to get on top of things and come back stronger there".

 

Mattia Binotto states that, even if the team made progress this year, there is steel need of improve the cars’ reliability:

 

"This is undoubtedly a bad day. Compared to last year, we have made great progress in terms of performance, however there is definitely still room for improvement on the reliability front. In a week’s time we will be in Canada where we will aim to make up for this. Before then, we will analyse the failures we experienced here and will try to manage them until we can get on top of them. There is definitely still work to do".

 

As for Mercedes, Russell had a good day: he gained two places thanks to the Ferraris’ DNF, and went on to gain the third place:

 

"We were smashing the ground every single corner and every lap for 90 mins, it was pretty brutal - I'll sleep well tonight! It's what we've got to deal with it at the moment, there's not much we can do in the short-term. There's lots of intelligent people, hugely talented engineers in the sport so I'm sure we'll find a solution. We didn't get the podium on pure pace today but we did it because the team have worked very hard to deliver a reliable car, we did a good job to be ahead of the midfield and obviously we picked up on Ferrari's. As a team, we take that as a positive and kudos to everyone at Brackley and Brixworth on all the hard work. We know we aren't quick enough and we've got a long way to go to bring performance. We're experimenting and trying things, one week turnaround to Montreal will be tough to find the solution but hopefully we'll get there soon".

 

Lewis Hamilton worked hard for the fourth place. He made somegood overtakes, but after the race he was suffering a lot with back pain, because of the hard bouncing of his W13 on track:

 

"I just got through that race on adrenaline, biting down on my teeth through the pain. I can't express the pain that you experience, especially on the straight here. And at the end, you're just thinking of all the people relying on you for the points. But we're in such a good position still! Third and fourth is a great result for the team. The team did a great job with the strategy and once we've fixed this bouncing we're going to be right there in the race. We're losing over a second for sure just with bouncing, or at least a second. I'll be at the factory tomorrow, we've got have some good discussions and keep pushing".

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Toto Wolff talks about this race and looks at the job the team has ahed to get back to the front:

 

"This is where we are at the moment - not as quick as the front runners but clear of the midfield. We never enjoy our rivals' misfortune, we want to see a strong fight at the front and we're hoping to catch up and join so there's six of us there fighting. A strong job from George today, he managed the race and took his podium well. We need to find a solution for the bouncing because the car we gave Lewis today was so tough to drive, you could see the pain in his back all weekend. After running on Friday, we knew we had big limitations with the car in Baku so it was a case of maximising our strategy, driving and our operations. The team did a great job on all three to ensure we were in the mix and ready to take advantage of any opportunity that came our way. Today, it paid off and we leave Baku with a good haul of points but we are under no illusion of the job we have ahead of us to get back to the front. There are no holy cows, everything is being looked at and we've got a great team trying to solve our issues".

 

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director, is pleased with today’ result, but he knows that there is a lot of work to do:

 

"We can be pleased with the result today as we've achieved the maximum possible - both drivers raced well, the strategy was good and it was a welcome reward to see George on the podium again. However, we were lucky to inherit the Ferrari positions today, the gaps to the front are just as big as Monaco, we're currently heading up the midfield and that won't leave anyone in Brackley or Brixworth satisfied. So, lots of work to do to; we've got to improve the ride quality for the drivers as they have tolerated it today but it's not acceptable to put them through that every Sunday and we've clearly got to find a huge chunk of laptime. The bumpier tracks seem to be a particular problem for us and Montreal is not especially smooth so we've got one area there to work on over the next few days before we get running again. The team is determined to continue pushing to find solutions, to find performance and to get back to racing at the front".

 

AlphaTauri made both cars pit during the Virtual Safety Car. Gasly ran fourth for a lot of the race, before losing out to Hamilton:

 

"It’s been pretty incredible for us today. Finishing in the top five is really good, especially considering how the start of our year has played out. We’ve not had that much luck so far, so it was important to get a clean weekend, which is what we’ve achieved here in Baku. We made no mistakes this weekend, we showed great pace in practice, then we had the best Quali of the year yesterday and today we finished in our highest position of the season to date. We also enjoyed a nice little battle with Lewis, which was fun. We knew at the start of the race that it would be relentless, as we headed in with just one new set of Hards, so we were really hoping for a clean end to the race but unfortunately, we had the second Virtual Safety Car, and we knew that wouldn’t play out in our favour. I tried to defend against Lewis the best I could, once he pitted for new tyres, but he was much faster - I tried to nurse my tyres through the race, but they really weren’t in great shape by that point. At the end of the day, to be in a position to fight with the Mercedes means that we’re doing a really good job, so it’s great for the team to come away with lots of points today".

 

Yuki Tsunoda was running sixth before the problems on his DRS. He was called to pit to fix it and this dropped him out of the points:

 

"I’m really disappointed today. Until the reliability issue the race was going really well for me, we were really in control of the tyres and the pace was good, so I think we could’ve easily finished in P6 today. I wasn’t fully aware of the issue, as it wasn’t causing too much of a change to our performance, that’s why I was a bit shocked when I was called in. It’s such a shame to be coming away without points from my side of the garage, as the team have done such a great job this weekend and we’ve been strong in every session".

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Guillaume Dezoteux, Head of Vehicle Performance, compliments both driver for the great performance and looks forward to Canada:

 

"We’ve got mixed emotions here in Baku today. We are all extremely happy to achieve a great, and well-deserved, fifth place with Pierre. However, we are very disappointed for Yuki, who lost a possible sixth position due to mechanical damage around the rear wing DRS mechanism and flap. The race was intense and following a strong first stint on the medium tyre, we decided to use the opportunity of the first Virtual Safety Car period to pit both cars and switch to hard tyres. It was a little bit earlier than we had hoped and we knew it would be a long way to the end of the race. Both drivers did a fantastic job at managing the tyres and the car, everything was looking good and steady. Unfortunately, thanks to the second VSC, Hamilton could fit a second set of Hards and pass us just seven laps before the end of the race. Pierre kept his head down and finished the race P5 with good pace, considering his very old tyres. For Yuki, the mechanical damage meant we were forced to stop and repair the issue, losing many positions. We apologise to him, he did a fantastic job this weekend and deserved this result. Anyway, this weekend boosts our morale. We have been able to close the gap to sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship and the target is to confirm this good form in Canada next week".

 

Vettel had a good race, but then he lost two positions after going out of track at turn 3 while he was passing Ocon:

 

"Sixth position is really great - I think we can all be pleased with that result. We have been pushing the limits of this car, and it is starting to pay off for us now. Today, we were faster than Alfa Romeo and matched Alpine and Alpha Tauri, and that changes the game for us a little bit. The team did an amazing pit-stop, which enabled me to jump Lewis [Hamilton]. After that, I was sure I had got past Esteban [Ocon], but I thought he would battle more for the position, so I took to the escape road and lost some time. Without that incident, I think I could have battled for fifth position. Nevertheless, this is a great result".

 

Lance Stroll could not gain some ground after starting in the back, and then retired because of some unusual oscillations of his car:

 

"It is a shame that we had to retire the car. The engineers could see the car was suffering from a vibration issue, so they asked me to retire the car. We are still not quite sure what the problem was, so we will have to do some work over the next week to investigate it and fix things. Sebastian proved our car has the pace, so hopefully we can come back stronger for my home race in Canada next week, which I am really looking forward to".

 

Mike Krack talks about the mixed fortunes the team had this weekend and the improvements they need to do before their home race in Canada:

 

"Sebastian capped a solid weekend with a good drive to sixth place in Baku today, thereby scoring eight valuable points in the constructors’ world championship. Lance was disadvantaged by a power unit issue in qualifying yesterday and a vibration problem today, which finally caused us to have to retire him a few laps before the end of the race. So we had mixed fortunes this weekend, but our car showed encouraging pace throughout. Next up is Canada in just a few days’ time - one of our home Grands Prix - where we will work hard to put up a competitive and trouble-free performance for both drivers on the streets of Montreal".

 

The Alpine was very difficult to overtake, with Alonso and Ocon keeping some cars behind for a lot of th erace. Ocon started on hard tyres and, after pitting during the Virtual Safety Car, came home in the points:

 

"It was a very challenging race today, so to come away with a double points finish and another top ten is a positive. Like always, we’ll debrief as a team to see what areas we can improve for next time. We were quick on both Friday and Saturday - we can count ourselves slightly unfortunate in qualifying which did not help our track position today - so there is definitely more potential there if we can piece it all together. We can leave Baku feeling positive and we’re already looking forward to returning to Canada next weekend where the aim is to keep scoring points".

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Fernando Alonso worked very hard to keep the two McLarens behind, and at the end he came home seventh:

 

"The race was difficult to execute today but we did well, and I am happy with seventh. We obviously benefited from a few retirements, but these things happen, and we were there to capitalise on them and really maximise our strengths. I overtook a few cars on the new tyres and we were very fast on the straights so that was useful. Our power-unit is looking strong and competitive, so this is always a good thing. We are very close with a number of cars at the moment, and I expect it to be quite similar in Canada. Let’s aim to score more points there".

 

Otmar Szafnauer is happy with te progress made and is looking ahead to make further inroads on fourth place in the constructors‘ championship:

 

"The aim today was to have both cars finish the race inside the points and we’ve been able to achieve that. The characteristics of the Baku City Circuit brings a unique challenge to both the drivers and the cars and we felt if we could get both cars across the chequered flag we would be in the points. There was more potential in our package this weekend. Esteban was unfortunate in qualifying, which put him slightly further back on the grid than we would have liked. That said, both drivers drove smart, well calculated races today when it counts for points and we can be pleased that both made up places and into the top ten. We’ll debrief over the next couple of days and we look forward to heading back to Montreal next weekend for the highly anticipated return of the Canadian Grand Prix. We’ve moved into fifth in the Constructors’ and we’re looking ahead to make further inroads on fourth place".

 

McLaren put into place different strategies, with Norris starting on mediums and Ricciardo on hards. These were faster, but Ricciardo was ordered to maintain the position behind his team mate:

 

"I’m happy to have scored some points, obviously for the team and for myself - it’s been a while. It was an eventful race with split strategies, so at the beginning I was a bit quicker than Lando on the Hard tyre, and there were some team orders, and then at the end he was quicker on the Hard and there were further team orders. Ultimately, I don't think we were quick enough to challenge Fernando, as even if we got close on the straight, he was just so quick. So, obviously we’ve got to try and take a bit of drag out the car. That was our Achilles’ heel here this weekend - but otherwise, I think we maximised our result. I’m happy to have had a smoother weekend".

 

Lando Norris had a good pace, even if it was difficult for him to overtake:

 

"I’m as happy as I can be with that, we just got unlucky with a couple of positions as a result of others boxing under the VSC, which happens in Baku. It’s just a case of different strategies. So, we lost out a little bit on that, but the pace was good. We found it difficult to overtake with our package here, but the actual pace of the car was strong. I think today was the best we could achieve, all things considered. But of course, we want more, so we’ll keep working on our weaknesses and aim for a better performance next time out in Montreal".

 

Andreas Seidl is happy leaving Baku with six points. The team is ready to do always bettere during the next races:

 

"Given our starting positions and the performance we had in our package this weekend, we are happy leaving Baku with six points for the team. Daniel and Lando worked together with the team and maximised all that was in our hands today. We knew before the race that, with our top-speed deficit at this track, we would struggle to overtake Alonso on track, which in the end didn’t allow us to progress further up the field despite trying a different strategy. We’ll keep working on understanding the car and see how we can optimise it further for the next race in Montreal, which is only a few days away. Thank you to the entire team here at track, back home at MTC and our colleagues at HPP, as well as Daniel and Lando for all the hard work again this weekend. I’d also like to thank our amazing fans for their continued support throughout this season so far, wherever we go. The whole team are working tirelessly to unlock more performance within our car, so that we can keep up the fight in the Constructors’ Championship. Next stop Canada".

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Zhou wasnot happyfor being called back to the pits to retire for the third time in four races, even if he wasgoing very good in the early stages:

 

"It’s frustrating not to finish today, but I want to focus on the positives of my performance. Until the issue, my race had gone really well: I didn’t do any mistake, I was competitive and I was running in the points. I had good pace and I know we could have brought home a good result. What happened is unfortunate, but the most important now is that we, as a team, solve this issue for the future so that we stop missing out on the opportunities we have. We’ll investigate what the issue is in detail and we’ll make sure we do come back stronger".

 

Valtteri Bottas made progress but did not have the good pace to fight in the midfield. He came home without points:

 

"We came here hunting for points and we leave with none, so I am obviously not very pleased about how our weekend went. Today it felt like a very long race as we were lacking pace: I believe there was something fundamentally wrong with the car, something we need to investigate. We will need to figure out what exactly happened before we get to Montreal, but I am convinced we will understand it and address it. Other than the outright pace, we did well as a team in terms of strategy and race execution, but that wasn’t enough to bring home the points. I feel quite sorry for Zhou as he was doing a really good race prior to his retirement: today was not our day, but I am looking forward to Canada next week. It’s been a while since we raced there and it’ll be nice to be back".

 

Frédéric Vasseur is disappointed with the result, after five good races :

 

"We end our Sunday here in Baku with a feeling of disappointment, as our streak of consecutive points finishes comes to an end after five good races. It was a big blow to lose Zhou with a technical issue today: until then, he had delivered an excellent performance, without a single mistake, and he was destined for the points. He deserved a good result today, but at least we can look at his performance knowing he’s on an upward path. Valtteri had a difficult race and we have to analyse what went wrong: we weren’t able to extract performance from the car throughout the weekend, and it’s something we need to address before Montreal to make sure we return to the level we have been competing at this season".

 

Magnussen was running good and fighting with Ocon, when had a problem and was forced to retire:

 

"It looked like we were back in the game and in a position to maybe score a point or two, so it’s disappointing. I know I lost power but I don’t know what exactly broke so it’s unfortunate but on to the next one. We’ve just got to stay at it, keep positive and keep working hard as it will go our way sooner or later".

 

Mick Schumacher did notmanage to make it higher than fourteenth:

 

"There wasn’t a safety car, or a red flag and I think I was betting on three safety cars and a red flag, at least, but it didn’t happen. We did our maximum, but the pace just wasn’t there. From Saturday onwards, things went a bit smoother but on a track like this it’s the Friday that matters and we only had one session to find the perfect set-up for qualifying, so it’s not easy and that’s what made everything a little bit more difficult. We just have to look ahead".

 

Guenther Steiner has hopes about the car:

 

"It’s not what we wanted today but the good thing that we take away is that we were in a good position when we had some PU issues, but we still have to find out what it is. As I always say, our car is good enough to get into the points, we just need to make it happen. Kevin was fighting and was in the fight and Mick also put in a solid effort".

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Latifi did a bad start, so he was awarded with a ten second stop and go penalty, because a mechanic was seen pushing him back into his grid slot after the track should have been cleared. He the picked up a five second time penalty for ignoring blue flags:

 

"It’s unfortunate that the penalty undid everything before it even started. I feel like there should be some leniency applied for what the infringement was as I was just pushed back, and nothing was changed to the car. It was tricky being so far off from the pack then the cycle of blue flags and getting caught by the leaders very early on. The race ended up being a very long and lonely one. We managed to get more mileage and laps with the car, but overall a challenging weekend on this track. A day to forget but excited to be heading straight to Canada for my first home race".

 

Albon fought hard with the Haas and then was not a badrace for hm:

 

"It was a fun race here in Baku! We just got a bit unlucky with the VSC timing, otherwise we would have been in a better place to fight for points today, but again our race pace was actually really strong. If you look at our pace relative to the midfield it was very strong; we were as quick if not quicker than a lot of cars in front of us. We had a good start, optimised what we had, and it was a well-executed race for us".

 

Dave Robson talks about the Williams drivers performance and the need of learning from this weekend before Canada:

 

"The race in Baku is usually an exciting one and this edition followed that form. Alex raced very well and the pace of the FW44 in race trim was good today. The timing of the VSC which allowed Bottas to stay ahead was frustrating, but that is racing; at least we forced the situation by stopping Alex for a 2nd time and played an aggressive hand in pursuit of a better result. At the end of the race, we stopped the car immediately as we could see something on the data that we were not comfortable with. Nicholas had a tough day, with an immediate penalty for a minor breach of the regulations on the grid. The penalty is mandated by the regulations and we were at fault, albeit only momentarily so we need to review our process and ensure that it doesn’t happen in the future. From there, Nicholas was always going to have a tough race, but he successfully completed a 1-stop race, which was not easy in today’s hot conditions. We will take the learning from this weekend on to Canada. We are looking forward to returning to Montreal and competing on another exciting circuit using the softest of the Pirelli compounds".

 

Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, talks about the strategies put in place by the teams:

 

"In all likelihood, this would have been a one-stop race, but the opportunities presented by the virtual safety cars for pit stops with minimal time loss were too good for several of the teams to ignore. This influenced the timing of the pit stops and therefore the strategy. We still saw seven of the 15 finishers stopping only once, which underlines the durability as well as the performance of the tyres here. With the conditions as they were, on a hot track featuring high speeds, it was clear that the harder compounds were best suited to today’s race: a fact that many of the teams had anticipated by saving more than one set of hard tyres for the Grand Prix".

 

Verstappen now leads the Drivers’ Championship by 21 points over Perez, whiloe Charles Leclerc is third. At he same time, Red Bull has an 80-point lead over Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship. The Canadian Grand Prix returns next weekend for the first time since 2019, on June 17-19, as Ferrari aim to make up for a run of disappointing races and Red Bull look to continue their winning run.


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