Perez fastest in second Azerbaijan practice as Hamilton struggles - GulfToday

Perez fastest in second Azerbaijan practice as Hamilton struggles


Red Bull’s Sergio Perez steers his car during the second practice session ahead of the Formula One Azerbaijan Grand Prix at the Baku City Circuit in Baku on Friday. Reuters

Sergio Perez was fastest in the second practice at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Friday as Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes struggled on the streets of Baku.

Perez clocked 1min 42.115sec, just 0.101sec ahead of his Red Bull teammate, championship leader Max Verstappen.

“Today it was like, I finally understand how to drive this car,” said the Mexican.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was third with teammate Charles Leclerc was fourth despite a brush with a barrier.

“It’s definitely better than we expected,” said Leclerc. “But it’s only FP1 and FP2. The pace looks promising. Now we’ll keep on working during the night and hopefully we’ll be as competitive tomorrow.”

Hamilton was down in 11th, more than a second slower than Verstappen.

The reigning world champion urged his team to “do whatever we need to do, I’m not going to go any faster. I don’t know where all the time is.”

“Honestly, I generally had a really good day; it was clean, I got all the laps that we needed, there were not really any mistakes, but just slow,” said Hamilton. “There’s just no more time in it. We’re definitely quite a chunk down, and I think everyone will be scratching their heads and looking into the data to see how we can improve. The car is limited,” added Hamilton. “But we’ll work at it. It’s not easy to be out of the top 10 when we’ve had pace in other places, but I don’t really know why we’re where we are.”

His Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas performed even worse, finishing 16th.

“It was very tricky for us today, clearly lacking pace,” said Bottas.

“I think it’s going to be a long night tonight.”

Azerbaijan, making its first appearance since 2019, presented drivers with a slippery and gusty circuit and Mercedes were unable to get significant results from the soft tyres.

Hamilton trails Verstappen by four points in the overall standings.

Singapore Formula 1 GP cancelled: The Singapore Grand Prix, scheduled for Oct. 3, has been cancelled “due to ongoing safety and logistic concerns brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic,” the race promoter announced on Friday.

“To cancel the event for the second year in a row is an incredibly difficult decision but a necessary one in light of the prevailing restrictions for live events in Singapore,” Colin Syn, deputy chairman of the race promoter, said in a statement.

“We would not be able to deliver a full event experience fans have come to expect over the years while safeguarding the health and safety of our fans, contractors, volunteers and staff,” Syn added. “Ultimately we have to be responsible, cautious and prudent.”

Shortly before the announcement, a spokesman for F1 world championship promoter Formula One told AFP it would “continue to work with all promoters during this uncertain period and have many options to adapt if necessary”.  Races in Turkey (Istanbul) and China (Shanghai), postponed earlier this season, could replace Singapore, while the United States could also host a second race.

Agence France-Presse

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