The Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) dominated the first day of free practice this Friday at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, the eighth round of the Formula 1 World Championship, ahead of the Red Bulls of the Mexican Sergio Pérez and the Dutchman Max Verstappen, while the Spanish Fernando Alonso (Alpine) has surprised with a fourth place ahead of Carlos Sainz (Ferrari).
Leclerc, second in the championship nine points behind the leader Verstappen, was crowned the fastest of the weekend with a 1:43.224 that earned him to beat 'Checo' by two tenths and 'Mad Max' by three, who as in the morning session he was again behind his teammate.
Meanwhile, Alonso took another leap in the afternoon session and rose from fifth to fourth place, just the opposite path of Sainz, who lost a position and closed the 'Top 5' one second behind his garage colleague in the ' Scuderia'.
With most of the cars wearing medium tires -except for the McLarens, with hard ones-, the pilots launched themselves into the hunt for times in search of commanding the free seconds. Sainz was the first to set a benchmark time, a 1m46.705s that soon became obsolete as the track heated up.
The 1:45.476 that was worth the Mexican 'Checo' Pérez (Red Bull) to command the morning session took only ten minutes to be overcome. Leclerc, flying over the Azeri asphalt, established a 1:43.806 that distances him by more than a second from his pursuers. Pérez moved up to second place before Sainz, after fifteen minutes, fell behind his teammate.
As in the first session, the 'porposing' did its thing again, favored by the long straight of the Baku urban circuit, and also turn 3, where this time Lando Norris (McLaren) went long in the first section of session, where the action was located, above all, in the garages.
Red Bull, for example, focused on the rear of Verstappen's 'RB18', which returned to the track by just 30 thousandths of the Monegasque and leaving the top three by just one tenth. After half an hour, Pérez jumped with softs to snatch second place from his teammate.
In a new attempt to improve his time, the Mexican went wide at turn 15 and ruined the fastest lap of both Verstappen and Sainz, who also went through the breakaway while trying to beat himself with the time almost at zero. However, no one managed to beat Leclerc's mark.