At the start of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc and Ferrari are raising hopes of their first triumph in two months. Meanwhile, Mick Schumacher suffers another setback. The 23-year-old falls out right at the start of the first session.
The disappointing Monaco home game ticked off, the first win in sight in two months: Ferrari star Charles Leclerc left a strong first impression at the start of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The Monegasse turned the fastest lap in practice with 1: 43.224 minutes and left his Red Bull rivals Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez behind.
Leclerc, who reported engine problems at the end of the session, was more than two tenths of a second ahead of second-placed Baku specialist Sergio Perez. Leclerc is under pressure in the Drivers' World Championship. His once comfortable lead is gone, the 24-year-old has only been on the podium once in the last four races. He now ranks behind world champion Max Verstappen.
Perez, who won the race on the Caspian Sea last year, was a tenth of a second faster than team-mate Verstappen. The Dutchman wants to reach the podium in Baku for the first time in the race on Sunday (1 p.m. / Sky), but experienced a bumpy start. Technical problems with the wobbly rear wing slowed down the defending champion. Championship leader Verstappen has never been on the podium in Azerbaijan and has bad memories of the Caspian Sea circuit.
Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) ended practice in eleventh place. "It was okay, we found our rhythm well. We know roughly where we have to go. There has to be a little more to come, we're sure there's more to come," said Vettel on Sky. Record champion Lewis Hamilton fought in the Mercedes with the still strong bouncing of the silver arrow, the Briton was only twelfth.
Mick Schumacher, who actually wants to prove himself against the growing criticism of his performance in Baku, got off to a false start. The 23-year-old had to park his Haas right at the beginning of the first session with a large leak in the cooling system. In the second training session it was only enough for 19th place.
Schumacher is under pressure after his renewed total loss in Monaco two weeks ago. Team boss Günther Steiner had issued a crash ban. "At some point we'll run out of cars, we just can't make them anymore," Steiner said on Thursday: "That's why it's so important that nothing happens here." Schumacher was not responsible for the damage to the Haas this time, but he still struggled after the repairs in the second practice session.