Hamilton leads FP1 & FP2 in Baku

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The European Grand Prix got off without a…well, actually there were a few hitches. After Free Practice 1 (FP1), it was determined that 90% of the tires were coming back to the Pirelli with cuts in them. The culprit? Loose bolts in the curbing (Kerbing for our British readers) and this prompted a serious delay canceling the GP2 session in order to fix the circuit.

While Lewis Hamilton topped the time sheet for Fp1, he then set about doing the same thing in FP2 even though turn 6 still had loose curbing. Hi teammate, Nico Rosberg, experienced a stoppage on track with 20 minutes to go in the session with a reported “drive” problem.

The day didn’t end well for Ferrari running 8th and 13th until Kimi Raikkonen had an MGU-K issue that locked his rear wheels at Turn 4 and he promptly parked the car there. Vettel was radioed back to the pits to be safe. The Ferrari’s were near 2s off the pace of the Mercedes team and clearly the track is favoring the Mercedes power unit with the top five position all powered by Merc.

McLaren seemed to be doing relatively well even with that long front straight and Jenson Button slotted 9th in FP2 while his teammate had an issue which meant he spent he majority of the time in the garage getting repaired.

As for safety? The track is certainly different with Valtteri Bottas reaching 218mph on the long straight and certainly the Twitter-verse was ripe with comments about safety and the circuit. The challenge for me is the incredibly high speeds on what is effectively a street circuit but it’s a very long one—the second longest track on the calendar behind Spa Francorchamps—and at those speeds in those confines, it does seem like it could be dangerous.

FP2 results:

PosDriverCarTimeGapLaps
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1m44.223s33
2Nico RosbergMercedes1m44.913s0.690s26
3Sergio PerezForce India/Mercedes1m45.336s1.113s37
4Valtteri BottasWilliams/Mercedes1m45.764s1.541s35
5Nico HulkenbergForce India/Mercedes1m45.920s1.697s37
6Carlos SainzToro Rosso/Ferrari1m46.027s1.804s35
7Max VerstappenRed Bull/Renault1m46.068s1.845s35
8Sebastian VettelFerrari1m46.219s1.996s36
9Jenson ButtonMcLaren/Honda1m46.234s2.011s32
10Daniel RicciardoRed Bull/Renault1m46.293s2.070s32
11Fernando AlonsoMcLaren/Honda1m46.498s2.275s27
12Romain GrosjeanHaas/Ferrari1m46.681s2.458s29
13Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1m46.694s2.471s32
14Daniil KvyatToro Rosso/Ferrari1m46.744s2.521s35
15Esteban GutierrezHaas/Ferrari1m46.830s2.607s26
16Felipe MassaWilliams/Mercedes1m47.060s2.837s28
17Kevin MagnussenRenault1m47.329s3.106s38
18Rio HaryantoManor/Mercedes1m47.487s3.264s33
19Marcus EricssonSauber/Ferrari1m47.772s3.549s22
20Jolyon PalmerRenault1m47.794s3.571s35
21Pascal WehrleinManor/Mercedes1m48.018s3.795s36
22Felipe NasrSauber/Ferrari1m48.081s3.858s38

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Peter Riva
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Peter Riva

And not a sky crane to be seen…

Member

I’m amused at the some of the signs that appear to be slightly lost in translation:

“Baku Welcomed All of You”-Well, I would certainly hope continues to welcome F1 throughout the weekend. Did Bernie offend Baku somehow? Maybe it was the lack of sound.

“Well Done Baku”- is that some kind of local grilled dish? ” Don’t go for the Medium Rare Baku, mate, Well Done Baku is where it’s at.”

jiji the cat
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jiji the cat

I’ve been wanting the element of danger and less run off for years. I’ve wanted tracks that punish drivers when they make a mistake also. I want a track that sorts out the boys from the men. Well I have it in the Baku circuit and I for one am loving it.

longshot
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longshot

You said pretty much what I wanted to say :) I am so glad this track is on the calendar – hardly any asphalt runoffs (apart from turn one), and totally unforgiving of mistakes. The off-camber corners, the undulations, the elevation changes, the mix of fast, medium & slow sectors, the lack of grip from it being a green track, which it will always continue to be in future years … and the uniquely spectacular surroundings. It doesn’t feel like this is a new track, but a throwback to old times. It reminds me a lot of Adelaide – though… Read more »

Tom Firth
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Tom Firth

I like the speed, I think its quite a nice layout. My only major concern is that cars have to reverse back onto the track in some of the run off areas. That’s the only bit that seriously scares me.

Besides that, sure it’s bumpy, is no run off in places and stuff, but we race at Monaco, and Macau, and Indycar races on a multitude of road courses that look far more sketchy than this place, so I guess by that logic, even if it does concern me personally. I’m not too against racing at Baku.

MIE
Editor

The length of the straights and the the lack of opportunity to recover energy under braking is highlighting the differences in effectiveness of the manufacturers ERS. Honda would appear to have improved massively in this area compared to last year.