Sergio Pérez narrowly beat team-mate Max Verstappen by a tenth of a second to hand Red Bull Racing a 1-2 in the second practice session for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as Mercedes struggled on the Baku City Circuit.
In the first part of the session, run on medium tyres, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz led the way with a lap of 1:43.162s. Any assault on that benchmark would have to wait, however, as soon after the Spaniard set his time the session was halted.
Nicholas Latifi was forced to use the escape road at Turn 15 after a mistake but when he reversed back onto the track he reported his that his car had lost all power. With his Williams stranded on track and the cranes being positioned to move it the session was red-flagged.
After a seven-minute delay running resumed and the field emerged from the pit lane on softs to undertake their qualifying simulations.
On the red-walled tyre Sainz improved to 1:42.243s to retain P1 with Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc taking P2. The Monegasque driver might have gone quicker on a second flying lap but after setting the fastest first sector he locked up on entry to Turn 15 and went nose first into the barriers.
The contact was not heavy, however, and he was able to reverse away and make his way back to the pits.
The incident meant that several drivers missed out on a meaningful soft tyre run, with one of the disadvantaged being Lewis Hamilton. The Mercedes’ driver’s best lap on softs handed him P9 but as quicker times were posted he dropped to P11 at the flag. Team-mate Valtteri Bottas, meanwhile, finished in P16 in a difficult session for the Silver Arrows.
Pérez then found enough time to take P1 with a lap of 1:42.115s. Verstappen also improved as like his team-mate he gained time across multiple soft tyre laps. However, the Dutchman was not happy with the balance of his car and complained of a lack of front-end grip as he claimed P2, 0.101s behind his teammate
Sainz and Leclerc took P3 and P4 in the session respectively, while AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly finished fifth ahead of Alpine’s Fernando Alonso.
The top 10 was completed by Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi, Norris, Alpine driver Esteban Ocon and Yuki Tsunoda in the second AlphaTauri.
2021 FIA Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix – Free Practice 2
1 Sergio Pérez Red Bull/Honda 1:42.115 22 211.631
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1:42.216 0.101 23 211.422
3 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:42.243 0.128 24 211.367
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:42.436 0.321 22 210.968
5 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Honda 1:42.534 0.419 26 210.767
6 Fernando Alonso Alpine/Renault 1:42.693 0.578 24 210.440
7 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:42.941 0.826 25 209.933
8 Lando Norris McLaren/Mercedes 1:43.018 0.903 24 209.776
9 Esteban Ocon Alpine/Renault 1:43.020 0.905 23 209.772
10 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri/Honda 1:43.130 1.015 25 209.549
11 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:43.156 1.041 24 209.496
12 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:43.220 1.105 23 209.366
13 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren/Mercedes 1:43.298 1.183 23 209.208
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:43.812 1.697 21 208.172
15 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:43.881 1.766 22 208.034
16 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:44.184 2.069 23 207.429
17 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1:44.557 2.442 24 206.689
18 Nikita Mazepin Haas/Ferrari 1:45.563 3.448 23 204.719
19 Mick Schumacher Haas/Ferrari 1:46.095 3.980 12 203.692
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 1:46.983 4.868 5 202.002