Lewis Hamilton made it two from two after finishing top of the time sheets at the end of the second free practice session at the Baku City Circuit in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Hamilton set a time of 1:44.223 on the super softs tyres to give him the fastest time of the session. Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg was a little more than a second adrift in 2nd with a time of 1:44.913. The Mercedes powered Force India of Sergio Perez finished 3rd fastest with a time of 1:45.316, 1.113s off Hamilton’s time.
There were issues with the kerbs before the session started after it was revealed that the kerbs at certain corners around the track were causing cuts to the tyres. Drivers were advised to stay off the kerbs at those corners when the session went ahead as planned.
The Baku City Circuit is a power hungry circuit and with the long straights and long periods of full throttle Mercedes powered cars seem to have the upper hand. As evidenced by the top 5 placed cars were all Mercedes powered.
Valtteri Bottas finished 4th fastest in his Williams 1.541s off the pace. Nico Hulkenberg in the sister Force India was 5th fastest with a 1:45.920.
Carlos Sainz in the Toro Rosso was the highest place runner with a Ferrari engine finishing 6th fastest ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who was the highest placed runner with a Renault engine.
Jenson Button finished 9th fastest with Daniel Ricciardo in the second Red Bull rounding out the top 10.
It was a session filled wide running as the drivers continued to push the limits of the tyres and the brakes to find the latest braking spot possible.
Nico Rosberg had to retire early from the session with a suspected engine issue.
Fernando Alonso was seen coasting around the track with a gearbox problem. He took quick action and pushed the neutral button on the nose of the car which the marshals use to enable to move the car. He was then able to coast in neutral to the pits. He emerged later in the session.
Ferrari, apart from being off the pace the entire session, had problems as well. Kimi Raikkonen came to a halt before the end of the session after his rear wheels locked up. Vettel was then told a few mins later to return to the pits as he may have had the same issue. Riccardo Adami, Vettel’s race engineer, said that there was an issue with the [MGU-]K as Vettel pulled into the pits.
Long run pace suggests that Mercedes have the upper hand going into the weekend. Williams, Ferrari, Red Bull and Force India to some extent are quite close together but are not anywhere close to the pace of the Mercedes cars.
With a few safety concerns which track officials are addressing the circuit seems to have gone down well with the drivers and most of them are enjoying the mix of corners the circuit offers. The layout seems to favor the brave. The drivers will relish the opportunity to take their cars to the absolute limit this weekend.
|3||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:45.336||+1.113||37|
|5||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:45.920||+1.697||37|
|6||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Toro Rosso||1:46.027||+1.804||35|
|7||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1:46.068||+1.845||35|
|10||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:46.293||+2.07||32|
|14||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1:46.744||+2.521||35|
Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team