Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc went quickest in the second free practice session for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, outpacing team-mate Sebastian Vettel by more than three tenths of a second. Lewis Hamilton was third for Mercedes ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
After running fastest in the early part of the session on medium tyres, Leclerc also claimed top spot when the field moved to soft tyres for their qualifying simulations.
The Monegasque’s best lap of 1:42.872, which deposed team-mate Vettel from P1, was delivered on the second push lap of his run. His lap put him 0.324s ahead of Vettel and almost seven tenths of a second ahead of Hamilton.
The session saw a flurry of early activity as teams attempted to make up for the first session was lost following George Russell’s collision with a loose drain cover, which resulted in a full circuit check by race officials.
Their enthusiasm was damped, however, when Racing Point’s Lance Stroll hit the wall at Turn 3, bringing out the red flags after just 15 minutes.
The Canadian driver had a momentary loss of control under braking for Turn 2 and a moment of indecision as he appeared to at first attempt to turn in before thinking better of it. His late attempt top back out of the corner mean that he ran out of space on the way to the escape road and he hit the barriers, sapping off the front left wheel.
Unable to make it back to the pits the red flags were show and running was halted for just over 10 minutes.
When the session resumed, teams swiftly moved to the qualifying simulation topped by Leclerc. Verstappen was one of the last to do performance run and he took fourth place 0.252s behind Hamilton.
There was more drama later in the session, as teams’ attention turned to longer runs. With 26 minutes remaining Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat lost control on exit at Turn 7. The back end of his car slid out and hit the wall and after bouncing back the front left also went into the wall.
Kvyat had earlier shown good pace, however, and he ended the session in sixth place, behind the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas.
Kvyat was separated from Toro Rosso team-mate Alex Albon by McLaren’s Carlos Sainz. The Spaniard finished 1.3s off Leclerc and 0.033s ahead of Albon. The rookie Toro Rosso driver had a good session, beating ninth-placed Red Bull driver Pierre Gasly by 0.024s. Tenth place went to Lando Norris in the second McLaren.
2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix – Free Practice 2
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 28 1:42.872
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 28 1:43.196 0.324
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 31 1:43.541 0.669
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull 24 1:43.793 0.921
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 31 1:44.003 1.131
6 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 9 1:44.177 1.305
7 Carlos Sainz McLaren 27 1:44.183 1.311
8 Alex Albon Toro Rosso 33 1:44.216 1.344
9 Pierre Gasly Red Bull 24 1:44.240 1.368
10 Lando Norris McLaren 32 1:44.295 1.423
11 Kevin Magnussen Haas 25 1:44.901 2.029
12 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 31 1:45.366 2.494
13 Sergio Perez Racing Point 28 1:45.436 2.564
14 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 30 1:45.482 2.610
15 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 15 1:45.483 2.611
16 Romain Grosjean Haas 31 1:45.618 2.746
17 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 24 1:46.717 3.845
18 Lance Stroll Racing Point 8 1:47.875 5.003
19 Robert Kubica Williams 27 1:48.111 5.239
FIRST PRACTICE IN BAKU HALTED BY DRAIN COVER INCIDENT
The first practice session for this weekend’s Azerbaijan was brought to a premature finish when Williams’ George Russell hit a loose drain cover. The drain cover, on the straight before Turn 3, appeared to come loose when driven over by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc a little over 10 minutes into the session. Russell, the next car on track, ran over the loosened object which damaged the floor of his Williams FW42.
Russell pulled over on the exit of Turn 3 and the session was red-flagged to allow for the Williams car to be removed, for marshals to clear the debris and examine the manhole cover. Race control then reported that the session would not be restarted with further checks necessary around the track being required.
Just two drivers had posted times when the incident occurred. Charles Leclerc recorded the fastest time on the medium tyre, a 1:47.597s, two seconds ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel.