The fourth round of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship began with an abbreviated day of practice Friday at Baku City Circuit as teams prepared for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix Sunday.
Only one of the two 90-minute sessions – FP1 and FP2 – that were scheduled on the 6.003-kilometer (3.730-mile), 20-turn circuit on the downtown streets of Azerbaijan’s capital city were completed after a loose manhole cover damaged the car of Williams driver George Russell early in FP1. Officials cancelled the session so a thorough track inspection could be done and necessary repairs made in time for FP2.
Rich Energy Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen were able to complete only a single installation lap before FP1 was cancelled, as did most of the rest of the field. Scuderia Ferrari teammates Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel were the only drivers to record timed laps, Leclerc laying down a best of 1:47.497 among his five tours of the circuit.
Both Grosjean and Magnussen began FP2 – run under clear and sunny skies – on the Pirelli P Zero Yellow medium tire before transitioning to the Red softs and then finishing the session on mediums. Magnussen’s quick time of 1:44.901 came on his 13th lap shod on softs. He ran 25 laps and was the 11th-fastest driver. Grosjean’s best time was a 1:45.618 on his 16th lap, also set on softs. He ran 31 laps and posted the 16th-quickest time.
- Leading the way in FP2 was Scuderia Ferrari’s Leclerc, whose fast lap of 1:42.872 was .324 of a second better than the next-quickest driver, his teammate Vettel.
- Haas F1 Team ran a total of 56 laps – 31 by Grosjean and 25 by Magnussen – during the abbreviated day of practice.
Romain Grosjean: “It’s always challenging in Baku. I didn’t quite get the confidence in the car that I wanted, so there’s work to be done for tomorrow. The track was quite dirty as well, so all-in-all it’s quite complicated. It’s a good challenge, but it would have been nice to get a two-hour session and an extra set of tires for this afternoon, it would have helped us get a bit more running and more understanding. I’m looking forward to tomorrow, especially qualifying, and then as always the race on Sunday. We’re working in the right direction.”
Kevin Magnussen: “Lots of yellow and red flags – as usual here in Baku, but we didn’t cause any of them. For us it was a smooth as it could get, it wasn’t too bad of a Friday. Unfortunately our long run was not so long, but we got a feeling for what was happening on the soft tires. There was lots of graining on that tire, so that won’t be easy for the race. I’m sure the graining will get better once the grip on-track increases, but by how much is the big question. I didn’t really get a feeling for the medium tires. We need to see how it’ll go on Sunday I guess. Maybe we can try something tomorrow in FP3. The overall car balance wasn’t too bad, it felt okay, but we’ll see if we can find some more for Saturday.”
Guenther Steiner: “It was a very strange day today. We didn’t get to run FP1 for the obvious reason – with the manhole cover. FP2 was then littered with a lot of red flags. We need to go through a lot of data to see what we can learn out of it. I wouldn’t call it a lottery, but I don’t think there’s a clear set pattern for tomorrow – like we’re used to seeing from other Friday’s. I don’t really know where we are at the moment.”