RACE DEBRIEF

    Sergio Perez continued Red Bull's pacesetting form on Friday afternoon, finishing ahead of team mate Max Verstappen and third-place Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz in second practice for the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix – with Lewis Hamilton down in 11th.

    The session was punctuated by multiple incidents, especially early on, as grip was at a premium at Baku. Williams' Nicholas Latifi (P20) brought out a red flag after 13 minutes with a loss of power, and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc (P4) triggered a brief Virtual Safety Car halfway through after he hit the barriers and ripped off his front wing at Turn 15.

    FP1: Verstappen heads Ferrari pair in first practice as Azerbaijan GP weekend gets under way

    Perez went fastest on soft tyres after the VSC for Leclerc's crash, the Mexican's benchmark of 1m 42.115s putting him 0.101s faster than FP1 leader Verstappen.

    But it was Ferrari who were fastest before that VSC, as Carlos Sainz set a quick time on medium tyres, followed by Leclerc. Thirty minutes in, Leclerc locked-up heavily and crashed into the Turn 15 barriers, but recovered to the pits for a new nose and was able to carry on to end up fourth. When the field all bolted on softs, Sainz dropped to third.

    Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2021

    Azerbaijan 2021

    Practice 2 results

    POSITION TIME
    1 Sergio Perez PER Red Bull Racing 1:42.115
    2 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing +0.101s
    3 Carlos Sainz SAI Ferrari +0.128s
    4 Charles Leclerc LEC Ferrari +0.321s
    5 Pierre Gasly GAS AlphaTauri +0.419s

    Hamilton was left sounding demoralised after his first soft-tyred runs, telling his race engineer: "Do whatever we need to do, I'm not going to go any faster. I don't know where all the time is". The reigning champion could do no better than 11th overall (ahead of Kimi Raikkonen of Alfa Romeo), with Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas down 16th with a late spin at Turn 1.

    AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly finished fifth in this session, a tenth behind Leclerc, while his team mate Yuki Tsunoda finished 10th, fresh off a move to the team's Faenza base, and ahead of Hamilton.

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    With reserve driver Daniil Kvyat watching on, Alpine's Fernando Alonso finished sixth – ahead of Alfa Romeo's P7 driver Antonio Giovinazzi – and team mate Esteban Ocon took ninth in this session.

    McLaren's Lando Norris began with a lock-up at Turn 15 but continued to post the eighth-fastest time (just 0.002s ahead of Ocon), while team mate Daniel Ricciardo was 13th at the track where he won for Red Bull in 2017.

    FP2 Highlights: 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

    Aston Martin's Monaco star Sebastian Vettel spun immediately in FP2 at Turn 16, but the four-time champion continued to finish 15th – his team mate Lance Stroll 14th and a tenth ahead of the German.

    Last-place Latifi began with an off at Turn 2 and soon came to a stop at Turn 15 with an engine issue. His stranded Williams brought out a short red flag, after which team mate George Russell finished 17th overall.

    READ MORE: Verstappen is oozing confidence – but will he extend or lose his title lead to Hamilton in Baku?

    Between the Williams were the Haas pair of Mick Schumacher (P19) and Nikita Mazepin (P18), the Russian shrugging off a Turn 1 spin early on. Schumacher encountered a drop in oil pressure, then a battery issue, before finishing half a second behind Mazepin.

    The action continues on Saturday, with FP3 at 1300 local time and Qualifying at 1600 local time. Join us live, with full reaction and news on F1.com.

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    Defending champion Lewis Hamilton was not happy in FP2, finishing 11th