F1: Charles Leclerc finished the first day of Azerbaijan practice in the fastest time

Formula One F1 - Azerbaijan Grand Prix - Baku City Circuit, Baku, Azerbaijan - June 10, 2022 Ferrari's Charles Leclerc during practice.

Formula One F1 – Azerbaijan Grand Prix – Baku City Circuit, Baku, Azerbaijan – June 10, 2022 Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc REUTERS / Leonhard Foeger during practice

BAKU: Red Bull pushed Sergio Perez to the top of the timesheet to end Friday’s practice at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix with the fastest time for Charles Leclerc Ferrari.

Monegasque, trailing Perez at the end of the first session, pulled a lap of 43.224 seconds in the second hour of the race, 0.247 seconds away from the Mexicans.

Championship leader Max Verstappen was third with a time of 0.356 seconds.

The Dutchman are nine points ahead of Lecler in the overall standings after seven of 22 rounds this season.

Perez, the winner of Monaco two weeks ago who is bidding for the first repeat winner in Baku on Sunday, is third behind his Red Bull teammates by 15 points.

Behind the top-three, Fernando Alonso was fourth for Alpine faster than compatriot Carlos Sange, who was fifth for Ferrari. The double world champion showed promising momentum in both sessions, becoming the fifth fastest in the opening hours.

Frenchman Pierre Gasley finished the sixth day for Alfatouri ahead of George Russell and teammate Yuki Sunoda at Mercedes.

Elsewhere, Esteban Oakon and McLaren’s Lando Norris are in the top-10, behind Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel and seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix, run around an unforgiving format known for catching drivers, has a reputation for serving the unexpected.

However, no major incident was reported on Friday.

Mick Schumacher and Nicholas Latifi created two virtual safety car periods in the first session. Several drivers kissed obstacles or ran wide in the run-off area while checking track boundaries.

Cars have also been seen to ‘porpoise’ or bounce dramatically when they have a straight start-finish.

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