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Azerbaijan GP: Practice team notes - Pirelli

NEWS STORY
04/06/2021

Red Bull drivers were fastest in both hour-long free practice sessions today, with Max Verstappen topping FP1 and Sergio Perez going even faster in FP2: on each occasion using the softest tyre in Pirelli's Formula 1 range. This comes to Baku for the very first time as the P Zero Red soft (C5) this weekend.

Perez's best FP2 time (1m42.115s) was more than half a second quicker than the best FP2 time in 2019, when the race was last run. On that occasion, the tyre nomination was a step harder.

With the Azerbaijan Grand Prix held more than a month later compared to 2019 the weather was extremely warm all day, with ambient temperatures of around 30 degrees and track temperatures that peaked at 50 degrees in the afternoon (16 degrees more than FP2 in 2019).

The teams concentrated mainly on the P Zero Yellow medium and P Zero Red soft, with more limited running on the P Zero White hard.

From the estimated simulation data, the performance gap between the hard and medium tyre is approximately 0.6 seconds per lap, while the gap between medium and soft is around 0.8 seconds per lap.

Mario Isola: "As expected, we had a slippery surface at the start of the day, with quite rapid track evolution. It was a hot day in Baku with asphalt temperatures in excess of 50 degrees centigrade, but that doesn't tell the full story as there's so much light and shade on this city circuit that the track temperature in reality can be very varied, leading to changeable grip levels. Getting used to that, as well as balancing the grip between the front and rear axles and working out which compound - soft or medium - will be the optimal choice to start the race with were the main jobs today, throughout a demanding free practice that was also influenced by both yellow and red flags. This isn't an easy track to get to grips with and the surface is still evolving, so there is plenty for the teams to analyse before qualifying, with just a bit of graining seen on the softer compounds in these high temperatures so far. As it's the first time that we're here with the very softest tyres in the range the performance gaps are very much an estimate, but all three compounds are set to play a strong role."

Check out our Friday gallery from Baku, here.

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