Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Baku City Circuit, 2022

Perez leads Leclerc as Red Bull encounter DRS trouble in first practice

2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix first practice

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Sergio Perez set the initial pace in the first practice session for this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix

The Red Bull driver set a benchmark time of a 1’45.476 to end the first hour of running on the Baku City Circuit quickest of all, a tenth of a second ahead of Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari. Max Verstappen was third-fastest in the second Red Bull.

Clear blue skies greeted the drivers as the pitlane opened for the first session of running in Baku, with a warm air temperature of 26C. All 20 cars took to the track in the opening minutes, with the two Red Bulls of Verstappen and Perez the first drivers to set a remotely quick lap time.

Trouble struck Mick Schumacher just five minutes into the session as water began gushing out of the side of his Haas. Schumacher was called back to the pits, before being instead told to stop the car on the exit of the castle section at turn 12, ending his session and bringing out a Virtual Safety Car.

Once the Haas was cleared, the session resumed. Lewis Hamilton ran off the circuit under braking for turn four and had to use the escape road to right the car. Lance Stroll had a close shave at the fast left hander of turn 15 in the final sector, scraping against the TecPro barrier and causing minor damage to his Aston Martin. After a stint for repairs, Stroll was able to rejoin the session.

Nicholas Latifi became the second driver to have their session ended early when his Williams shuddered to a halt approaching turn five. He pulled off on the escape road and his car was cleared under another Virtual Safety Car period.

Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, Baku City Circuit, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix practice in pictures
With the cars reaching extremely high speeds along the long main straight, many drivers had to deal with a recurrence of porpoising during the session. Carlos Sainz Jnr, Pierre Gasly, George Russell, Lando Norris and even Max Verstappen were seen visibly bouncing along the fastest section of the track.

With around 20 minutes remaining, many of the drivers took to the circuit on the soft compound tyres. Perez used the fastest rubber to set the fastest time of a 1’45.476, ahead of team mate Verstappen and the two Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz. Leclerc improved to go second quickest behind the Monaco Grand Prix winner.

After Verstappen’s DRS slot appeared to open to an excessive degree along the back straight, Red Bull brought in both cars to examine their rear wings before sending both Verstappen and Perez back onto the circuit. However, Perez’s earlier fastest time would not be beaten and he would end the first session of the day top of the times sheets.

Leclerc was second quickest in the Ferrari, 0.127s off Perez’s best time. Verstappen ended the session third fastest, but spun at turn 15 on his way back to the pits, somehow avoiding the barriers before complaining of off-throttle understeer in his Red Bull.

Sainz ended the session fourth fastest, ahead of Hamilton, Yuki Tsunoda, George Russell and Fernando Alonso.

2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix first practice result

PositionNumberDriverTeamModelTimeGapLaps
111Sergio PerezRed BullRB181’45.47621
216Charles LeclercFerrariF1-751’45.6030.12721
31Max VerstappenRed BullRB181’45.8100.33425
455Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariF1-751’46.0120.53622
514Fernando AlonsoAlpine-RenaultA5221’46.5711.09522
644Lewis HamiltonMercedesW131’46.6671.19121
722Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’46.6961.22025
863George RussellMercedesW131’46.7051.22924
910Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’46.8301.35425
1031Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5221’46.9171.44121
114Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’47.6912.21519
1218Lance StrollAston Martin-MercedesAMR221’47.8472.37124
1320Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-221’47.9462.47024
145Sebastian VettelAston Martin-MercedesAMR221’47.9702.49422
1577Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’48.0782.60222
1624Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’48.2222.74624
1723Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW441’48.4192.94322
183Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’48.8103.33422
196Nicholas LatifiWilliams-MercedesFW441’50.9215.4457
2047Mick SchumacherHaas-FerrariVF-221’58.33212.8563

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2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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25 comments on “Perez leads Leclerc as Red Bull encounter DRS trouble in first practice”

  1. It looks like everyone has porpoising? Guess this is to remain with the cars for this season.

  2. It’s crazy RBR still have not fixed their DRS. If it’s a matter of it gettting jammed by the wing flexing then it may not be something they want to fix though. At least not in a direct way.

    1. @dmw I think the fact their competitors are starting to suspect the reason they’re having so many issues is they’re somehow cheating will mean at some point in the next few races they’ll be instructed to fix it properly or start getting penalties. It does seem like they’re probably doing something around flex to cut drag which would perhaps explain some of their increased top speed this year.

      1. @slowmo My understanding is that this has more to do with their attempt to save weight. It is not that the wing is flexing it is that it is vibrating/flapping and it is not adding to performance nor is it desirable and they are wanting to fix it. If it was a matter of the wing flexing in some manner that they believe is legal and which gives them some advantage that’s different. But that isn’t the case here. They don’t want Max’s wing to do this.

        1. @Robbie I guess we’ll see in the coming races. I seriously doubt this is about weight saving and I expect other teams are starting to think the same. What if the vibration is by design to create an aerodynamic effect. There is also the fact that depending on the deflection caused by the vibration it’s likely the gap is expanding and shrinking thus being wider at times than it should be and hence is illegal. Obviously they have a test for this when the car is parked but this can’t check compliance at all time in the same way they have issues measuring wing flexibility.

          This has been going on with their wings since last year so if it hurt performance as people expected it would in the past, then they’d have fixed it by now. The fact it’s not been fixed suggests it’s desirable to an extent.

  3. I know it’s FP1, and essentially means nothing. But what if Checo won here? One glance at the table, and he’s still in the WDC hunt.

    A couple more wins and there might be some tough decisions to be made at RB. Obviously Max is no.1, but Checo could cause some headaches down the line.

    Long way to go of course

    1. @bernasaurus I think they’d love to have the ‘problem’ of locking out Ferrari from the top 2 spots ala Mercedes for so long.

    2. After Jos said Red Bull should have favoured Max in Monaco, Horner responded saying they are not “Max Verstappen Racing” and he elaborated on Sky today by saying whoever is faster is the number 1 driver.

      Red Bull don’t care who wins as long as they are in a Red Bull. If Checo starts beating Max regularly, they’ll shift their backing to him just as they did when Ricciardo started beating their previous “Golden Boy”, Vettel.

    3. It might be wise to wait a few races. I havent seen Checo finish all the races he finishes on the podium for more than a season long. Sure he can win races, but so can everybody else given the rigjt material. Lets see consistency in performance first.

    4. @bernasaurus I think they’ve given Perez some high risk pit strategies to force LeClerc’s hand against Verstappen that have actually paid off big for Perez this year. I wouldn’t expect his luck to hold out in that regard for the rest of the year. While being closer this year, I think Verstappen is still comfortably quicker and will actually pull further ahead on pace as they dial in the setup of these cars over the year.

  4. Let’s go, Checo!

    1. Yeah really great to see him in such form. It’s been a long time coming but it makes sense. First time he’s been on a top team in a top car and not new to the team like last year. Only FP1 for now but still he keeps confirming his comfort level and confidence in the car.

  5. Ssshhh! Not a word about the excessive top wing fluttering big time on the RBR.
    RBR assure us & Ferrari! That the wing elements pass the “new” inspection.

  6. Just usual FP stuff, although Ferrari has quite noticeably more bouncing than Mercedes.

  7. Another good start to the weekend for Checo. It did seem as though he was pushing a bit harder than Max (he brushed the walls a couple of times whilst Max left quite a bit of room for error) but that could just be because Checo feels happier and more confident in the car.

    On the DRS issue, Horner seemed to confirm the two cars were running different rear wings or are at least set up differently in some way so it should be something they can resolve. Checo’s wing wasn’t fluttering like Max’s.

  8. max spun under increasing pressure from his teammate. he was moaning all the way back to the pits.

  9. Something I noticed watching some OnBoard’s during FP1 is that some of the cars are running super stiff are are bouncing badly off some of the bumps which is resulting in drivers having to lift off the throttle through the usually easy flat out kinks of turns 13/14 & 19.

    It’s not porpoising through there, It’s just how stiff they are having to run causing them to bounce off the bumps & the Aston Martin & Mercedes in particular looked atrocious on the bumps through that turns.

    1. It’s how they’ve resolved the porpoising. They’re having to run the cars lower which means they have to be stiffer. That has resolved their issues but it means they are no good over bumps. On the nice flat circuits (like Barcelona), they’ll have some pace but they’re going to have a bad time on the street circuits.

      The teams that weren’t as affected by porpoising can go a bit softer with the setup so they look much better going down the straights.

  10. Sky coverage was disgraceful, commentators kept harping on about Red Bull’s rear wing not being legal while Merc’s front wing flexing got one passing mention and that it was acceptable.

    Look I get it, they cater to British viewers first and foremost. But their coverage is being shown all over the world, maybe they need to be a little more mindful of that.

    1. I think it’s pretty fair to have as a talking point that there maybe legality concerns about a rear wing which has had serious flexibility issues at many races this year on the fastest car. This is nothing to do with a “British” bias.

      1. @slowmo Serious flexibility issues at many races this year? Hmmm…this is the first one I’ve heard of this year and it isn’t even a flexing issue but more of an undesirable flapping one that is not helping their performance and they don’t want to have happening. Or perhaps I’ve missed something and you can point me to where a flexing read wing has been a topic this season?

        1. @Robbie so you’ve missed all the times Verstappen’s DRS has “failed” this year. I’m not going to go through each race step by step.

          1. @slowno No need to as this has nothing to do with some advantage they are seeking and are in fact only looking to solve it and get rid of it. I’ll let this answer stand as a response as to your above comment too. It sounds more like you are mixing up last year’s early season flexing accusations of which they were never deemed illegal anyway, but this year the issue Max has been having has only been a headache for them. Consider Checo does not have this issue and is faster so far. If this issue was desirable Checo’s wing would be doing it too.

          2. Should be @slowmo Just to add, they are indeed seeking an advantage but apparently that is only in an effort to save weight and so far that seems to be backfiring on them.

          3. “all the times” = 1 time

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