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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 04: Sergio Perez of Mexico and Red Bull Racing and Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP walk in the Paddock prior to practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan at Baku City Circuit on June 04, 2021 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202106040105 // Usage for editorial use only //

Verstappen leads FP1 after a session filled with yellow flags.

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This session is all about data collecting for the teams. As the FIA are hot on the ‘Flexi-wings’ at the moment, the teams want to gauge the situation and make time if they want to change their rear wing. Interestingly, Red Bull are using a very similar wing to the one they used in Barcelona but have slightly altered the end plate, which is what helps to support the rigidity of the wing.

Both Leclerc and Sainz went out and pushed hard from the get-go showing their aggressive pace. However, Hamilton and Norris both got their claws out and topped the Ferrari’s times.

Hamilton was keen to redefine his dominance this weekend after his disappointing round in Monaco and pushed the car hard heading into the 1:43’s.

Unfortunately, about halfway through, the track was yellow flagged due to Tsunoda sitting on the runoff area at turn 4 after knocking the wall. He struggled to get back out as the car wouldn’t reverse. Discussion turned to his confidence and performance after Bahrain, after a stunning testing period and astonishing first race Tsunoda has alluded to the fact he thought he was better than he was. This may explain the mistakes he’s made over the season; he was putting too much pressure on himself, but now he has recognised this, he may be able to relieve himself of some of the pressure giving him a clearer headspace each weekend.

An impressive lap from Daniel Ricciardo put him P1 1 tenth ahead of Hamilton. Although it looked like teammate Lando Norris was going to steal that P1 from underneath him with 9 tenths lead until he went in too hard to turn 16 and spun, thankfully he didn’t cause any damage to the car.

Ferrari retaliated to Ricciardo’s impressive lap by putting both cars ahead separating 1st and 3rd by half a second. Hamilton was on a good flying lap but locked up and had to abort leaving him sat in 4th position.

Verstappen attempted his fast lap but was stuck behind Mazepin who didn’t move out of the way, thankfully this was early on and he was able to recharge the battery and attempt again. Second time lucky he managed to pip that 1st position by four-hundredths of a second.

Stroll and Vettel had some good runs but finished 13th and 15th respectively.

Mazepin stuck his car into the wall at turn 16 with 3 minutes to go after losing the rear, possibly as a result of a tailwind catching the rear end ending his practice prematurely. Schumacher also ended his practice session early after running off at the same point that Tsunoda did earlier in the session.

Verstappen, Leclerc and Sainz lead the way after FP1. The most surprising finishes come from Hamilton in 7th and Bottas in 10th.

The string of yellow flags prevented some drivers from pushing the car as they wanted, leaving the final lap times all over the place and not quite as any of us were expecting but it’s early days, we are looking forward to seeing what FP2 has to offer.

Headline image credit: Red Bull content pool.

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