RACE DEBRIEF

    Red Bull’s Sergio Perez continued his rich vein of form as he topped the timesheets in opening practice for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc slotting into second.

    Perez, winner not only at Monaco last time out but at this very venue in 2021, used the soft tyres to go quickest – 0.127s ahead of Leclerc, with championship leader Max Verstappen three tenths adrift in third.

    READ MORE: Perez says he has ‘good opportunity’ to win 2022 title after signing Red Bull contract extension

    Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, who like the rest of the top 10, set his best time using soft tyres, was fourth with Alpine's Fernando Alonso shooting up to P5 very late in the session.

    Alonso's late jump bumped Lewis Hamilton to P6, the Mercedes one of a number of cars that appeared to be aggressively bouncing, particularly on the near-2km straight, while several drivers commented on the windy conditions.

    FORMULA 1 AZERBAIJAN GRAND PRIX 2022

    Azerbaijan 2022

    Practice 1 results

    POSITION TIME
    1 Sergio Perez PER Red Bull Racing 1:45.476
    2 Charles Leclerc LEC Ferrari +0.127s
    3 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing +0.334s
    4 Carlos Sainz SAI Ferrari +0.536s
    5 Fernando Alonso ALO Alpine +1.095s

    Yuki Tsunoda was an impressive seventh in the leading AlphaTauri, a fraction ahead of Mercedes’ George Russell and AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly – the Frenchman having taken a trip down an escape road earlier on to finish ahead of compatriot Esteban Ocon (Alpine, P10).

    READ MORE: Gasly calls Perez contract deal 'logical' as he plans more talks with Red Bull management

    Lando Norris was 11th, 2.2s off the pace, with his McLaren team mate Daniel Ricciardo – who addressed comments about his future at the team on Thursday – down in 18th.

    Lance Stroll gently kissed the barriers at Turn 15 but was able to continue with his session as planned. He was 12th, a fraction clear of Haas's Kevin Magnussen and Sebastian Vettel – both Aston Martin drivers having set their times on mediums.

    FP1 Highlights: Azerbaijan Grand Prix

    Valtteri Bottas was the top Alfa Romeo – the team running a one-off special livery in Baku as part of their SUV launch – in 15th with team mate Zhou Guanyu a tenth off in P16.

    Alex Albon was a couple of tenths of a second slower, as he slotted into 17th. Williams team mate Nicholas Latifi’s weekend got off to a frustrating start as he lost precious track time when his car “just died” with just seven laps on the board.

    READ MORE: Why both Leclerc and Verstappen have unfinished business in Baku

    There was pain for Mick Schumacher too, the German forced to park his Haas on track with a suspected water pressure issue before he had the chance to set a competitive lap time.

    Second practice for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix takes place later Friday at 1800 local time.

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