Max Verstappen Dominates, Tsunoda Crashes in Intense Baku Free Practice

The city of Baku, Azerbaijan, was alive with the sound of engines as the racing weekend officially kicked off with a free practice session on Friday.

by Faruk Imamovic
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Max Verstappen Dominates, Tsunoda Crashes in Intense Baku Free Practice

The city of Baku, Azerbaijan, was alive with the sound of engines as the racing weekend officially kicked off with a free practice session on Friday. The session was the only one scheduled for the weekend, as the event format has shifted to a Sprint Weekend with new rules in place.

Max Verstappen Dominates Free Practice

The standout performer of the free practice session was none other than two-time and current Formula One world champion Max Verstappen, who piloted his Red Bull Racing RB19 car to a lap time of 1:42.315.

Verstappen topped the timing charts, outpacing Ferrari's Charles Leclerc by a mere +0.037 seconds. Verstappen's teammate, Sergio Perez, rounded out the top three with a lap time of +0.139.

Incidents Mar Free Practice Session

Unfortunately, the free practice session was not without its share of incidents.

French Alpine driver Pierre Gasly was at the center of attention when his car caught fire mid-drive. A message from the pit crew instructed Gasly not to change gears as smoke began to billow from his car, followed shortly by a raging fire under the bodywork.

Gasly safely exited the vehicle as thick smoke filled the air, leading to a shutdown of the session. Haas' Kevin Magnussen also encountered difficulties, stopping due to a fuel pressure issue. Meanwhile, AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda crashed into the barrier, resulting in a flat tire and a pit stop. "It looks like we lost fuel pressure on the straight," said Haas team boss Guenther Steiner.

"It stopped the engine and everything." The Sprint Weekend format separates the Sprint race, to be held on Saturday, from the main race on Sunday. Friday's schedule included the free practice session, as well as qualifying for the Sunday race.

Saturday will feature the Sprint Shootout, a shorter qualifying format for the 100 kilometer Sprint race.

Times

  • 1 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing 1:42.315 [soft]
  • 2 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +0.037 [soft]
  • 3 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing +0.139 [soft]
  • 4 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +0.584 [soft]
  • 5 Lando NORRIS McLaren +0.810 [soft]
  • 6 Nyck DE VRIES AlphaTauri +1.099 [soft]
  • 7 Lance STROLL Aston Martin +1.140 [hard]
  • 8 Fernando ALONSO Aston Martin +1.245 [medium]
  • 9 Alexander ALBON Williams +1.313 [soft]
  • 10 Guanyu ZHOU Alfa Romeo +1.433 [soft]
  • 11 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +1.483 [medium]
  • 12 Oscar PIASTRI McLaren +1.665 [soft]
  • 13 Valtteri BOTTAS Alfa Romeo +1.695 [soft]
  • 14 Yuki TSUNODA AlphaTauri +1.822 [soft]
  • 15 Nico HULKENBERG Haas F1 Team +2.008 [soft]
  • 16 Logan SARGEANT Williams +2.585 [soft]
  • 17 George RUSSELL Mercedes +2.767 [medium]
  • 18 Esteban OCON Alpine +3.640 [medium]
  • 19 Pierre GASLY Alpine +4.006 [medium]
  • 20 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas F1 Team +5.183 [hard]

Max Verstappen
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