BAKU, Azerbaijan – The practical Friday practice in Baku was one affair with stopping after one session, and was dissolved early because of loose brains, and another was interrupted by two red flags. From the outside, it's easy to assess how drivers are slipping from the left, right and center trajectories, but listening to the description of Lewis Hamilton for the lapping sector, it's easy to understand how many errors in the circuit can be pulled , like Baku.
"I do not know if people are looking to fully understand the speeds through which we go through many of these angles," Hamilton said after the session. "Turn 1 is so bumpy that it comes in an angle that you can not see the 100-meter mark, the vibrations are so high that you brak on your peripherals and your instinct.
"The speed when you estimate how fast you go and whether you can make the angle, the balance is very, very difficult and if you look at places like turning 3, if you lay down and do not go so well, they are in the wall. Much faster than in Monaco, where it may look similar. "
Regardless of the challenges of the 6-mile circuit, things started poorly, when, after 13 minutes of the session opening session, the drain cap pulled out and ripped the floor of George Russell from Williams to pieces. Such are the aerodynamic forces acting on – and under – the F1 car that the drain roof was literally impregnated by its holders with the low air pressure that created the floor of the car.
At 320 kilometers per hour, sucked from the front wing has the ability to raise an object over 110 kilograms, and on the front of the floor the suction that creates under the floor of the car can raise an object of 200 kilograms. The inspection of the consequences revealed that the lower casing of the bucket shell was corroded, and as a result, a heavy metal disk spread when Charles Leclerc crossed and completely displaced as Russell followed.
The drainage covers were checked before the session, and the first Formula 2 session was held without incident, but shortly after lifting each brakes it covered and renewed, there was no way to check if any braking cap would withstand the extreme forces of the F1 car. The result was a disassembled chassis for Williams and a canceled session for everyone else, as workers at the workplace set up for further checks on the 300-plus drainage covers interrupted around the track.
"Surprisingly, it did not hurt it at all," Russell said later. "He set up the fire extinguisher in the car, and it was so cold that I thought something was burning!
"I was lucky. If the impact was 10 or 15 millimeters higher, it went straight to the place where I sat, so it could have been much worse, but shame for all the guys.
"You have a full program, weekend plans, and you get it all thrown into your brains, literally."
The team's deputy director Claire Williams was clearly upset about the situation, but after explaining the race director, Michael Massey, he accepted that such things could happen on street cars.
"My reaction is probably not surprising, I'm pretty upset," she said. "However, it was explained to us, the circumstances surrounding the manhole and what happened. I do not have to believe that someone is guilty, but it is still very disappointing for us. It seems that this is one after the other for our team in the moment. However, this happened, we must correct the damage.
"Our chassis is cracked, so we have to go back to the chassis three, the floor is a write-off, and we have some other small parts of damage around the car. The guys obviously work pretty hard to make sure we deploy the chassis three, we will clearly not we go out for the second practice and George will have to just get all his teachings in the morning. "
The rest of the field had a second practice to deal with the track, but with up to no running during the FP1 session the circuit was still incredible dust. For short runs, Ferrari had a clear speed advantage – over 0.6 seconds separated Leclerc into the fastest Ferrari and Hamilton in the fastest Mercedes – but the conditions on the track were improved at such a rate that made it difficult for confidence in the holes with any certainty.
Unusually, Leclerc has set the fastest time of the third flying circle at its low fuel level when normally the first flying circle reaches the highest tire grip and the best time of the paw. This is partly due to the low levels of degradation experienced by the Pirelli tires in Baku, but also on the cold conditions in the late afternoon, which made it difficult to generate tire temperatures with only one outflow. Add to that unforgiving nature of the track and the difficulty of connecting all 20 corners in one drive, and only one circle as the fastest attempt of Leclerc will shine in a day like Friday.
"He is very narrow, very technical and very difficult, so you have to be very precise," Leklek said. "As soon as you make a mistake in one corner, you will be late for everyone, and maybe it suits my driving style better than the other paths. But overall, that's good, and I hope tomorrow will be a good day for me. "
As it happened, Lechtortz and Hamilton appeared to raise decent circles based on footage from both cars. Vettel, who split the two, looked less at home with his car, struggling to climb the gas from his teammate through the tougher section around the castle. But with Ferrari holding a 0.4-second lead just ahead, Hamilton believes that Mercedes will find it difficult to complement the full gap of his rivals on Saturday afternoon.
"There are always areas where we can improve, but I feel like it's a solid session – it's not like we have a lot of the time to be found here or there," he said. "They are before 0.6, so I need to go and study the data and find out if we find 0.6 at night or not, we would say it is very small."
Regarding long paths, the data from Friday practice is even less complete. Daniel Kvit's accident in the 7th race in the last 30 minutes of the session resulted in a red flag at the start of the planned racing events, and as a result, the usual sets of data were slightly unstable.
However, from the time we gathered, the most effective comparison between Ferrari and Mercedes appeared between Vettel on 11 laps in the middle tires and Hamilton in nine rounds ran the same line. Hamilton went faster after a dozen of rounds, with an average time of 1: 47.9 per Vettel with 1: 48.1, indicating that the race could be close even if the qualifications passed the Ferrari road.
"They [Mercedes] were pretty fast in the race, "said Leclerc." Therefore, I expect them to be there for the qualifications when they put together [on low fuel]. "
Battle in the middle row
McLaren and Toro Rosso set up solid races for a single round, but did so later in the session after the conditions on the track improved. Then they failed to support their first pace with a 10 top-notch top with equally impressive long races – a situation that did not help Quot to get rid of all lengthy comparisons with his accident.
Renault struggled to get the tires in the right operating window – the team suspected of setting its lower levels too low – and Daniel Ricciardo destroyed both sets of tires before starting a long time. Haas also struggled with tuning, with Romain Grosjean the only driver who complained about the rear tire building.
However, the middle tire of the 10 laps of the Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen has set aside, with an average time of 1: 48.1, or a similar pace of Ferrari, using the same compound. Raikkonen is an experienced pair of hands who can stay out of trouble, so if you are looking for an external pledge for the podium, it may be your man.