FP1 & FP2 - Azerbaijan GP 2021 - Team quotes
“I’m happy with today and I think we’ve definitely made some good progress. We did a very good analysis after Monaco and today felt like I am understanding the car more and how I need to drive it. I think this is probably the best Friday of the season for me, it’s the most complete in terms of data and how comfortable I feel with the car. Hopefully we can get a good, clean lap in qualifying tomorrow which is when it matters, but we’ll still work hard tonight to improve and try to find some more lap time.”
"Performance wise I think we had a great start to the weekend here in Baku. It was quite windy out there today which wasn’t easy for any of us, but it definitely makes things more interesting. In FP1 the car felt pretty decent, I was quite comfortable and then for FP2 we made a few changes to see if it was better but I don’t think it was, so we’ll look into that overnight and see what direction we will go for qualifying. So far I think we look pretty strong as a Team and I’m very happy with that so let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”
The winds that battered the Baku City Circuit yesterday may have abated – at least a little – but the Azerbaijani track wasn’t any less tricky today, as drivers tackled the twenty corners making up the venue of this weekend’s Grand Prix in today’s first two hours of practice.
Many were caught out, resulting in two sessions with a high degree of disruption – Virtual Safety Cars, yellow flags, even a red flag. In the confusion, the Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN team did a fine job across both sessions, keeping out of trouble and managing to bring both cars’ programmes to a successful conclusion. The stopwatch also provided validation to the team’s work, with Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi being in 11th and 12th respectively after the opening session and the Italian jumping to a credible P7 in the timesheets in the afternoon, his team-mate in P12.
Of course, it’s still early in the weekend and much work remains to be done to be ready for tomorrow’s qualifying and Sunday’s showpiece. The Baku City Circuit is sure to throw a few surprises our way, with wind conditions expected to become more challenging tomorrow and the advantage given by having a tow on the 2.2km home straight sure to play a decisive role in qualifying.
It will take all of the team’s ability to navigate through these challenges and bring home another good result : surely, though, the first day around this circuit in two years has proved to be a really positive start to our race weekend. Time to build on it.
“It was a good way to start the weekend, the car felt ok from the morning session but of course there is still a lot that can be improved. In the end, there were a few interruptions with the yellow and red flags, which broke up the day a little, but it’s the same for everyone and we have to deal with it. We will see what we can improve on the car tonight : hopefully we can have a strong day tomorrow.”
“The car felt good from the start : FP1 wasn’t too bad and we made a step forward in the second session. I am happy with what we saw in both the qualifying and the race simulations. It’s only Friday but I’m satisfied to be seventh in the standings, hopefully we can carry on this form tomorrow. There are still a few little things to improve, of course, but we can be happy so far. Tomorrow we will need to put everything together, as always, and make sure we make the most of the tow as it will be critical. We will try our best and hopefully have a good result.”
Alpine F1 Team finished practice ahead of this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix with both cars inside the top ten. The first practice in two years at the Baku City Circuit took place in hot and breezy conditions, with Fernando Alonso – driving for the first time in Azerbaijan since 2018 – finishing the day sixth and Esteban not far behind in ninth.
Free Practice 1 saw the team run an aero test on both cars to evaluate some updates to the A521. During the session, Fernando ran the Hard and Medium Pirelli tyres, but Esteban fitted the Hard and Soft to negotiate the twisty, dusty track.
On the Medium tyres, Fernando improved on his final lap of the session, placing him neatly inside the top ten in ninth position. Esteban finished sixteenth using the Soft compound.
For the start of Free Practice 2, Esteban opted for the Medium tyres with Fernando running the Soft. As track conditions evolved around the 6.003km circuit, drivers often found themselves exploring the escape roads after pushing beyond the limits of the track.
Esteban and Fernando stayed out of trouble despite several yellow flags and a red flag for Nicholas Latifi, which brought proceedings to a short halt mid-way through the session.
With the session quickly restarting, both drivers headed out with Soft tyres. After several push laps, Fernando’s 1min 42.693secs was good enough for sixth, with Esteban joining him inside the top ten in ninth on a 1min 43.020secs.
Both drivers ended the day on long runs and remained inside the top ten in Friday’s final classification.
“Overall we had a decent day, with good understanding and lots of data, especially on the longer runs. There are obviously some things we need to go through tonight but both cars finished in the top ten in the afternoon. The track was quite dirty this morning but made a huge improvement in FP2. On my side I was not completely happy with the car, but we know the direction we need to take for the rest of the weekend, which is positive: we obviously need to keep this momentum tomorrow.”
“It was a positive Friday for us today and good to be back driving in Baku. The car felt good straight away in FP1 and we didn’t play around too much with the setup. We tried some different tyre combinations just to understand the needs of the entire weekend and we will take some valuable data from this. Overall, it was a good start to the weekend, but we know there are some other areas of performance for us to still unlock.”
Davide Brivio, Racing Director
“It was a positive day as we ran through our programme this morning and afternoon. It looks like our performance is not so bad at the moment and we can be fairly satisfied with the day’s work. Fernando is quite happy about the car and we made an improvement for Esteban from the morning. Let’s keep the positive trend going for the rest of the weekend.”
“It’s been a very good Friday for us, a really positive P6 this morning and P5 this afternoon, at the moment I’m feeling very good in the car. I’m able to be quite aggressive and push the limits, I went over too far once or twice but that’s how we find the line and extract the maximum from the car. I’m pretty pleased so far, especially because we did the lap without any slip streams so potentially there’s more pace available to us tomorrow.”
“It’s fairly similar to Monaco here, you have to build up the pace and also confidence in the braking zones, as most of the corners need strong braking. I went into the run-off areas a few times but it was good practice for me to find the limit and luckily I didn’t go into the wall! I think the progress from FP1 to FP2 was good, I struggled a bit in the morning, so it was a good step up in FP2. There are a few areas I still need to work on, but the pace is definitely there this weekend, we just need to put it altogether tomorrow.”
Jonathan Eddolls (Chief Race Engineer)
“We managed a busy but successful Friday practice here in Baku. Pierre has driven here before but for Yuki it was his first time, in any category, and FP1 was a challenge for him. The dirty and low grip track, combined with the wind, definitely had an impact on his initial performance. We mainly used today’s sessions to build a better picture of how to maximise the performance from the tyres, with both drivers using the Mediums then the Softs, as well as working on the car balance in FP1. The higher track temperatures and the use of a softer compound this time in Baku has enabled us to get the tyres working quicker than in the past here, which is positive. We were quite happy with the car in FP1, although we could still see a number of areas to improve, so we made some set-up changes to both cars for FP2. This appeared to be a step in the right direction and was reflected in the short-run performance. Yuki did exactly what we asked of him and by the end of FP2 he was a close match to Pierre, I am sure he will find more time in FP3 and Qualifying. The long-runs today were difficult when fighting with cars around, as will be the case at the start of the race, but we have some good data now to analyse, which will help us understand where the limit is and we can then use that in our strategy model.”
“It is great to be driving in Baku. It is a place that holds special memories for me and it is great fun to drive here. It is so high-speed; you are constantly close to the wall, and it is a challenge for the driver. You can gain a lot of lap time under braking because you arrive at high speeds, and getting the braking point right really helps bring a lap together. I think we made some good progress with the car today; we learned a lot about the set-up and I think we can make further gains with car balance. We will go away tonight, review it all, and try to make improvements for tomorrow.”
“We covered plenty of laps and end the day feeling satisfied that we have done our homework. The track was in good shape from the start, but obviously improved quite a bit during the day. It is a tricky circuit at the best of times, but by the end of the sessions I was finding a nice rhythm. During my laps on the soft tyres, I did not maximise everything and I am sure it is the same for the others because there were a lot of yellow flags, especially this afternoon. So there is more to come. The long runs were a bit cleaner and I have a good feel for the car already. Let’s see where we can improve overnight.”
"A decent day. Hot! But on the whole, I think it wasn’t too bad. FP1, we looked quite good; FP2 we struggled a little bit more, so we’ll try to understand and see if it was anything we did with the set-up or the conditions. A lot of room for improvement going into tomorrow, so we’ll see what we can do with our data tonight and work out how we can improve the car.”
“It was a pretty good day. We certainly found a few things and made progress. The lap times don’t always tell the full story, and 13th doesn’t show much, but I think we’re a lot closer than that. Obviously, we’ve still got to work hard to make it happen, but I think today was certainly a step in the right direction and I feel more comfortable and confident going into tomorrow.”
Andrea Stella - Executive Director, Racing
“An interesting and productive Friday. We didn’t suffer any major disruptions and acquired a lot of data. This track sets plenty of challenges for the team. For the drivers, it’s always a challenge with the low grip and the walls, for the engineers it’s the tough choices on choosing the best rear wing level. The tyre allocation this year is interesting too, with both the Soft and Medium compounds having high degradation. However, we had an encouraging day, and the car looks to be in good shape. We’re looking forward to building from here for a positive qualifying session tomorrow, and a good race on Sunday.”
The sixth round of the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship began with practice on Friday at Baku City Circuit, Baku as teams prepared for Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Friday’s track running, held in mostly sunny conditions, consisted of two 60-minute sessions – FP1 and FP2 – on the 6.003-kilometer (3.730-mile), 20-turn street circuit.
Mazepin and Schumacher ran identical tire strategies in FP1 with both VF-21’s utilizing the Pirelli P Zero Yellow medium rubber to start. Their initial wake-up runs were followed by a baseline outing on the Red soft compound – both drivers duly setting their fastest laps of the session. Schumacher logged a best time of 1:46.899 for 19th with Mazepin recording a fastest tour of 1:46.945 for 20th. A high-fuel stint back on the medium tires concluded their respective FP1 run-plans.
Lap times dropped in the afternoon as the track rubbered in. Mazepin opened FP2 with a short run on mediums before bolting on a fresh set of soft tires for his quali simulation. The Formula 2 graduate posted a 1:45.563 on his fastest lap to place 18th overall. Mazepin capped his day with an 11-lap high-fuel run sampling the harder White compound. Schumacher’s session was blighted early on by an oil pressure issue after just four laps on hard rubber. An extended stay in the garage ate up precious time but the German returned on softs to clock a 1:46.095 for 19th. Schumacher added another five laps to his tally in the dying minutes of FP2, a short high-fuel run – also on softs, seeing him through to the checkered.
Uralkali Haas F1 Team ran a total of 73 laps on Friday across FP1 and FP2 – 41 by Mazepin and 32 by Schumacher.
“I really enjoyed today; I think we’re in a good place. We made some important steps forward. Although the car isn’t performing on high and low downforce tracks, the things that we are able to extract, in terms of the set-up of the car, are encouraging. There’s obviously plenty to go through but today has definitely gone to plan. In terms of feedback, I felt that tire overheating on long runs is a big issue, not only for us but for other competitors. The track is very low grip and that makes the asphalt just overheat the tires, that’s just something I have to get used to coming from Monaco and Barcelona. I think long runs were our stronger point today though. At the moment where we stand on Friday, I’m not imagining that we’ll go forward too much come Sunday, but who knows, maybe Saturday and Sunday can bring some surprises.”
“The track was quite dirty to begin with this morning and it didn’t really clean up through the first session. With F2 running it did clean up a bit for FP2. Unfortunately, we didn’t get all the laps in that we wanted. I had a few issues, but I still got to do one flying lap on the C5 and one or two laps with high fuel. We will probably have to change engines back to the first PU so we will find out and hopefully everything will be fine for tomorrow. In general, we have stuff to learn but we have done quite a bit already and now it’s about putting the puzzle together to be in a good window for FP3 and then for qualifying.”
“It’s always difficult to come here – you know, the track is very green when we start, and our two drivers are rookies, they’ve both raced here only once before in F2. We knew it was going to be a challenge, but I think the guys did a good job of it. FP2 went well for Nikita (Mazepin), he got in the most running he could there. Mick (Schumacher) had a good FP1, but in FP2 there was a problem with his oil pressure. We tried to chase down what it was, but we could never find out, so he had to come in and out all the time. He at least got half a session in there in FP2, but he’s saying he’s ready for tomorrow. We continue on the learning curve Saturday – but as you can see, we go from each practice session and improve. That’s the aim and that’s what we’ll continue to do.”
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance
It has been a tough day with high quality laps around this long circuit at an absolute premium. Having had a decent first practice session, we lost valuable time on Nicholas’s car this afternoon when the power unit protection strategy was triggered following a trip down the escape road. Unfortunately, Nicholas couldn’t get the car back on track quick enough to prevent the power unit getting too hot and so the protection strategy intervened to prevent any damage to the unit.
George had a smoother day but struggled a bit for pace at both low and high fuel. However, we got most of the key work done and we know that there is more time to come from both car and drivers as this is not a circuit to push too hard too soon.
The tyres are given a hard time on this long track, especially when the track is hot and there will probably be little room for error during qualifying tomorrow. There are likely to be some incidents during the session and it is possible that not all drivers will get the chance to show their pace in Q1. The race could be interesting with a range of tyre strategies possible.
It was a tough day here in Baku. Our competitors are looking a little faster than we expected, but I think with some hard work tonight and the right changes to the set-up we can find some lap time. I wasn’t pushing the boundaries massively as it’s only practice so it’s about getting the laps under my belt and finding a rhythm. Hopefully I can make it count when it matters tomorrow; Q2 is the goal for me and I think it’s possible if we can put absolutely everything together. Above all, I think the race on Sunday is going to be really interesting.
In FP2, I moved out of the way of another car but couldn’t turn back left to get back onto the track. In the time it took me to reverse from the escape road the power unit got too hot; the safety measures put in place to make sure it doesn’t get damage kicked in and it shut off. Unfortunately, that was the end of my session.
You don’t want to miss track time, especially on a street circuit, so it’s not ideal but we will make the best of it and see what we can do. Q2 is still the objective for us as a team but we need to see where we are in FP3 tomorrow.
A difficult day in Baku for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team
— The first session of the day saw Lewis finish in P7 and Valtteri in P10.
— The team’s struggles continued into the afternoon with Lewis in P11 and Valtteri finishing P16 in FP2, reflecting the single lap performance of the car.
— Both drivers looked more competitive on long runs towards the end of the afternoon session.
We had a clean run and worked through everything we needed to in both sessions - it just wasn’t very fast! The car felt better in P1 but in the second session, there just wasn’t more time in it - I was pushing hard but we were struggling for grip. We’re definitely a chunk of time down and I think everyone will be scratching their heads tonight, looking into the data to figure out what the issue is. The long runs were slightly better but there’s lots of work to do.
It was very tricky for us today, we are clearly lacking pace and it feels like we’re missing overall grip and sliding around. Monaco wasn’t easy but at least we were more or less there for qualifying. It’s been more of a challenging day than we anticipated and we need to figure out why. We were slightly better on the long runs but we’re still lacking pace. So overall not an easy day with lots of work to do - I think it’s going to be a long night.
Today was our worst Friday by some margin. Our biggest issue seemed to be the single lap; we’re a long way from our normal positions so clearly we need to find something very significant there. The long run picture was not as bad - a fair bit behind Red Bull but still in the mix. So, lots to work on overnight; we’re planning a comprehensive programme of analysis and simulator work to try and understand some of these issues but we clearly have an awful lot to find.
Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow got through all its planned programme for Friday free practice for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix with the priority being for the drivers to get comfortable with the Baku City Circuit and its walls. Between them, Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc completed 86 laps, using all the available tyre compounds and evaluating two different aerodynamic configurations.
FP1. In the first session, Charles and Carlos completed twenty laps each. They started out on the Hard tyres, waiting for the track to clean up after a lot of dirt had blown onto the circuit with the strong wind over the past few days. When the conditions improved, both drivers switched to the Softs, setting their best times: 1’43”227 for the Monegasque and 1’43”521 for the Spaniard. In the final minutes, the team decided to switch them back to the Hard compound to work in race configuration.
FP2. In the afternoon, the programme continued with Sainz and Leclerc going out on the Medium tyres, with which Charles did a 1’43”162 and Carlos stopped the clocks in 1’43”210. After a red flag period, when Latifi stopped on track, Sainz and Leclerc went back out on the Soft tyres for a qualifying simulation. Naturally, their times improved: 1’42”243 for the Spaniard and 1’42”436 for the Monegasque. Then came the only unplanned moment of the day, when Charles hit the barrier at turn 15, damaging the front wing. Apart from that, the car was fine and he was able to drive quickly back to the pits and then go out for a race simulation, as did Sainz. Carlos, who also tried the Soft tyre with a heavy fuel load, completed 24 laps, two more than Charles who only used the Medium compound on his long run.
Programme. The cars are back on track tomorrow at 13 local (11 CET) for the final free practice session, prior to qualifying at 16 (14 CET). The fifth Formula 1 race at the Baku City Circuit gets underway on Sunday at 16 (14 CET).
“Today we were a bit quicker than we had expected. However, the time sheets can be misleading, with cars getting tows on the straights – myself included – and others not finishing flying laps for various reasons. Still, it was an encouraging first day for the team here in Baku.
Tomorrow afternoon will obviously be a better indicator ahead of qualifying, so we need to work out where we can gain a bit of lap time on the short runs, as well as finding a good compromise to make the tyres work on the long runs. There could be opportunities this weekend and we need to be ready to make the most of them.”
“It was definitely a better day than we expected, but it’s only the first day of practice.
The pace looked promising, and we will keep working overnight to be as competitive tomorrow. I felt quite comfortable in the car today, especially in terms of braking, maybe even too comfortable, pushing a bit too much into turn 15. But in the end, that’s what free practice is for – testing the limits. I was on a good lap there and we will see what we can do tomorrow.
Our main competitors are quick, even though they haven’t shown it yet. We have to make sure we do everything perfectly. We have to maximize our potential and hopefully we can have a good qualifying.”