An update from Free Practice at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as the Bulls take to the Baku City Circuit.
Baku's known as ‘The City of Winds’, with a cold northern wind (Khazri) and a warm southern wind (Gilavar) fighting for dominance. In F1’s first two visits, in June of 2016 and 2017, that wasn’t hugely significant (though the aerodynamicists may argue otherwise) but last year, with the race being held in April for the first time, and the city being in the eye of a gale, it suddenly made a lot more sense. It seems bizarre that a sport as high-tech as F1 can be derailed by a stiff breeze, but on that truly vast start-finish straight, the difference between braking down from 370kph for Turn One into the teeth of a 40kph gust, or a moment of calm, is the difference between making the corner or not.
However, when the cars took to the track for the first session of the weekend there was a very lowly wind of 4kph blowing across the track. Although the wind wasn't the issue during Free Practice One, as after only one lap by the Bulls the session was red flagged. The Williams of George Russell took a sizeable impact from a loose manhole cover, which damaged the floor of the car and caused it to shut itself down.
It was then decided that the session wouldn't be restarted as the track required a thorough inspection and for oil to be cleared from the surface.
When the time came for Free Practice Two the track was ready for action. The Bulls put in some longer practice runs throughout the session, however they were slightly limited due to two red flags causing delays. Max finished the session in P4 with a time of 1:43.793 after his 24 laps. Pierre was P9 posting a 1:44.240 from his 24 laps.
After the session Pierre was summoned by the FIA and ordered to start to start Sunday’s race from the pit lane after missing the weigh bridge when attacking pit entry for a practice pit stop at the end of free practice.
In Saturday's practice session Max put in a solid performance to finish P3 with a best time of 1:42.852 after 16 laps. Pierre finished the session P20 having chosen to focus on race set-up completing 22 laps.