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Perez signals intent in final practice


Ahead of today's sole free practice session the air temperature is 27 degrees C, while the track temperature is 47 degrees. Like yesterday it is bright and sunny.

Hopefully F1's powers that be weren't watching the F2 race which ended just over 30 minutes ago. A late incident meant the deployment of the safety car with the race restarting with just one lap remaining.

Though, other than a pile-up at the back of the field, there were no significant changes to the order, it is the scenario the Drive to Survive era of fan can only dream off.

Another dream, certainly as far as F1's combatants are concerned, is an end to porpoising, which in all honesty appear to have got worse this weekend.

Sergio Perez set the pace yesterday morning, while it was Charles Leclerc who ruled in the afternoon, with Fernando Alonso out-pacing Carlos Sainz in the second session. That said, the numerous yellows meant the Spaniard failed to get clean lap on the softs.

Few drivers appear happy with their cars, especially at Mercedes where the German team appears to have taken a step backwards.

Perez out-paced his teammate in both sessions - much to the consternation of a certain driver's father, the world champion still suffering rear wing issues.

Both AlphaTaris have looked good so far, while Lando Norris continues to be McLaren's pace-setter.

Nine minutes before the start of the session, race control announces that the start of the session is delayed while the barrier at Turn 1 is repaired following that F2 crash.

Meanwhile, the FIA continues to 'clarify' the rules relating to the pit entry white lines, with the race director now stating that: "The dashed white line at the pit entry defines the track edge. For safety reasons, no tyre of any car continuing on the track, may cross that line.

"Any car with all four (4) wheels to the left of the solid white must enter the pit lane, if in the opinion of the Stewards, the driver has committed to entering the pit lane, except in cases of force majeure accepted as such by the Stewards."

Fifteen minutes later than originally scheduled, the lights go green. Stroll is first out, the Canadian on mediums, as is Schumacher who follows.

Among the early risers are the Mercedes pair who are both on hards.

All pit bar Stroll who remains on track. Despite the delayed start there is no rush to work.

The Canadian pits after 3 laps without posting a time, as teammate Vettel heads out.

Russell heads out again, followed by Sainz, Bottas, Zhou, Leclerc and Hamilton.

Russell, on softs, now, crosses the line at 47.256, as Bottas takes to the escape road at Turn 1.

Schumacher is the second driver to post a time, the German stopping the clock at 48.195.

A 46.457 sees Sainz go top, but teammate Leclerc is already on a hot lap.

Magnussen goes second (46.641), ahead of Russell, Zhou, Schumacher and Bottas.

Leclerc crosses the line at 45.260.

Again, the Mercedes (Hamilton) looks a real handful, indeed the Briton has to use the escape road at Turn 1.

Despite the bouncing, Russell improves to second with a 46.029. Hamilton subsequently goes fifth with a 46.701.

"Quite low grip at the moment," warns Sainz.

Perez goes second with a 45.503, having gone quickest in S3.

With 40 minutes remaining, as Sainz goes top with a 44.744, Verstappen is the only driver yet to appear.

Onboard with Hamilton reveals the bouncing to be as bad as ever. Nonetheless, the Briton improves to fifth with a 46.299.

Magnussen is sixth, ahead of Tsunoda, Bottas, Vettel and Norris.

Leclerc leapfrogs his teammate with a 44.661, as Verstappen finally emerges.

Zhou complains his rears are "too pointy".

Courtesy of a tow from Norris, Gasly goes fourth with a 45.507... on the hards!

On his first flying lap, Verstappen goes quickest in S1. He loses pace in S2, though just a little, finally crossing the line at 44.468 to go second... to his teammate who had just posted a 44.416.

All bar the AlphaTauri pair (hards) and Ricciardo (mediums) are on softs.

A 44.001 sees Sainz go quickest, but Leclerc is on a hot lap. Having completed a double-cool lap, like his teammate, the Monegasque posts a 43.514.

"I have no rear today, mate," complains Hamilton.

Ricciardo is told that "P9 on mediums is pretty good". Not pretty, pretty good, just pretty good.

With just five drivers on track, Verstappen improves to second (43.653), the world champion looking likely to go top until he lost time in the final sector.

On his mediums, Ricciardo improves to eighth with a 46.026.

With 20 minutes remaining, Latifi has the track to himself. The Canadian is currently 18th (47.127).

The king of the late brakers, Ricciardo is being advised where he can still find a few metres. Clearly the Australian still doesn't have the required confidence in his car.

On fresh softs, Latifi improves to tenth with a 46.070.

Magnussen goes fifth (44.919), while Alonso can only manage 14th (46.299).

"Wow, no rear end there," complains Russell, despite improving to fifth with a 44.573.

Zhou goes eighth (45.457), Schumacher ninth and Bottas tenth.

A 45.479 sees Tsunoda go ninth, only to be demoted when Vettel posts a 44.971 to go eighth.

As Leclerc improves to 43.240, all bar the Alpines are on track.

PBs in all three sectors are enough for Norris to go 5th (44.418).

"It's not selecting," says Bottas as he appears to have trouble escaping the escape road at Turn 3.

Verstappen consolidates second with a 43.449, only to be demoted when Perez responds with a 43.170.

"A lot of rear grip but no front," says Sainz.

Now on softs, Ricciardo improves to sixth with a 44.476.

"Did you turn down the engine down," asks Hamilton. He is told that the team needs to save mileage.

Currently twentieth, Alonso improves to eleventh, the Spaniard receiving a helpful tow from Perez. He demotes Hamilton who had just posted a 44.845.

As ever, traffic is an issue, with Verstappen almost tripping up over Ocon. "Unbelievable, man," says the Dutchman.

No such issues for Perez who goes quickest in S1. However, he loses pace in S2 due to a slow car in front (Magnussen).

The session ends. Perez is quickest, ahead of Leclerc, Verstappen, Sainz, Norris, Ricciardo, Gasly, Russell, Ocon and Vettel,

Alonso is eleventh, ahead of Hamilton, Stroll, Zhou, Magnussen, Tsunoda, Albon, Schumacher, Bottas and Latifi.

All of which sets us up nicely for qualifying.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Baku, here.


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1. Posted by kenji, 11/06/2022 13:15

"That's an amazing revelation....Hamilton asks his tesm, 'did you turn the engine down' and is told that they had done so! Did they actually do that remotely [ ? ] or did they do it in the garage but not tell Hamilton! Either way...very very strange and should be looked at more closely because if they were able to do that on the fly then surely the driver is not totally in control."

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