Sergio Perez managed to secure a solid day for Red Bull, as the Mexican managed to put the car top of the timings in the second session on Friday. He was followed by Max Verstappen in the sister Red Bull, and the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz, who continued Ferrari's strong pace from this morning.
It was a session of yellow flags and virtual safety cars, given the sheer number of drivers finding all manner of exit roads across the streets of Baku.
A hot start to the afternoon session in Azerbaijan, with 19 cars taking to track early on in the session, with only the Haas of Nikita Mazepin staying in the garage for a brief moment. As a result, drivers were vying for position throughout the first five minutes of the session, however, the first times began to come through, with Pierre Gasly setting the benchmark time for others to beat.
The grip was at a premium for drivers up and down the grid, Valtteri Bottas, Lando Norris, and Sebastian Vettel all managed to run out of room as they looked to set their initial lap times for the day. As a result, the yellow flags were flying repeatedly throughout the first ten minutes of the session.
This would accumulate in a virtual safety car for Nicholas Latifi in the Williams. The Canadian took a detour at turn 15, having got the car out of the exit road after locking up the brakes, the car ground to a halt, leaving the number 6 Williams stranded. The virtual safety car was later changed to a red flag. The session would get back underway just over five minutes later.
Tricky Middle Stages
Issues were being reported in the Haas garage, with Mick Schumacher's car losing oil pressure, confining him to the bottom of the times, having completed just five laps in the afternoon session. The German will be looking to make up for a difficult weekend last time out in Monaco.
The drama would continue in FP2, with Charles Leclerc being the first major casualty of the barriers this weekend. Locking up at turn 15, Leclerc found his front wing embedded in the walls of the track, managing to limp home for a new front wing. As a result, the virtual safety car made a return.
Tough End To The Day
It seemed to be a tough session for both Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, despite promising times for the Red Bull. Verstappen was complaining about the balance of the car, whereas Hamilton stated that he was struggling for pace. It seemed that the Mercedes was struggling across the board as the track improved this afternoon, with the seven-time world champion sounding defeated over his team radio.
Alpine and Alpha Tauri appeared to have found some strong pace for the Baku streets. Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso spent a large part of the session in the top ten, with the cars sat 9th and 6th respectively. Gasly managed to get the car as high as 5th place, whereas Yuki Tsunoda rounded out the top ten in tenth place as the session entered the final ten minutes.