Verstappen pips Leclerc to fastest time in only practice session of the weekend in Baku

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Ahead of qualifying for Sunday’s race later today, the 20 drivers headed into FP1 knowing this is the only practice session of the weekend for them.

Nyck de Vries set the first time of the session on a 1:49.541 using the soft tyre. Red Bull quickly went 1-2, before Tsunoda split them on his softs.

Carlos Sainz clipped the wall on the entry into turn 5 but escaped without damage.

At the ten minute mark, Leclerc led Verstappen, Perez, Sainz and De Vries.

AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda lost the rear and hit the wall at turn 3. The Japanese driver damaged the right rear following the hit and limped back to the pits.

A red flag was thrown just after the fifteen mark as Pierre Gasly’s Alpine started smoking and ultimately flames appeared. He stopped at turn 12 and it took some time for everything to be extinguished. Alpine confirmed it was a loss of hydraulic pressure on the car.

In the run-off at turn 1, Kevin Magnussen stopped as well due to a fuel pressure problem according to Guenther Steiner.

After 13 minutes under red flag conditions, the session got underway again.

Verstappen led Perez, Leclerc, Sainz, Ocon, Alonso, Bottas, Norris, Gasly and De Vries on the resumption.

A terrible session continued for Alpine as Ocon’s FP1 ended early with his car up on jacks with 27 minutes left.

Inside the final twenty minutes, Verstappen’s 1:43.834 continued to hold up well, with Stroll, Perez, Sainz, De Vries rounding out the top 5. The Ferrari showed competitive pace on the hards as Leclerc was P6.

On the soft tyres, Verstappen lowered the benchmark to a 1:43.042, but he was quickly beaten by teammate Perez as the Mexican did an impressive 1:42.651. Alex Albon vaulted up to P3 in his Williams.

Although he improved on his next attempt, Verstappen couldn’t beat Perez as he ended up 0.194s adrift of his stablemate.

Charles Leclerc pumped in a purple first sector as he split the Red Bulls, missing out on top spot by 0.093s. That came following a couple of adventures in the run-off zones at turns 2 and 7.

Perez went even faster with a 1:42.600, but he got beaten by Leclerc as the Monegasque did a stonking 1:42.352.

However, Verstappen delivered at the end as he clocked a 1:42.315 to be quickest from Leclerc and Perez. 0.139s covered the top 3.

Sainz, Norris, De Vries, Stroll, Alonso, Albon and Guanyu completed the top 10 as 1.433s covered the first half of the order.

Hamilton, Piastri, Bottas, Tsunoda, Hülkenberg, Sargeant, Russell, Ocon, Gasly and Magnussen rounded out the order. Mercedes did not run on the soft tyre.

Photo credit: Red Bull Content Pool