Press Release - Formula 1® Socar Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2019 - Automotive Event Images

Press Release - F1 Media-27 April 2019-Formula 1® Socar Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2019
Press Release - AMG Petronas Media -28 April 2019- Formula 1® Socar Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2019
Press Release - Renault F1 Media - 28 April 2019 - Formula 1® Socar Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2019

Image - Mercedes AMG Petronas Media

Archive number: M191837

Red was the dominant colour for the first day of the FORMULA 1 SOCAR AZERBAIJAN GRAND PRIX 2019, with the two Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow drivers topping the time sheets in both sessions on the enthralling Baku City Circuit which wends its way along the banks of the Caspian Sea and beneath the Walled City of the Azerbaijan capital, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The first session result was largely irrelevant, given that it only lasted 12 minutes before the decision was taken not to restart it. It was all due to a manhole cover between Turns 2 and 3 coming loose as George Russell drove over it. It caused considerable damage to his Williams. However, the outcome of FP2 was very significant, with Charles Leclerc being the only driver to get below the 1m 43 second (1.42.872) lapping 324 thousandths of a second faster than his team-mate Sebastian Vettel.

Next up on the theoretical grid, was third placed Lewis Hamilton, who posted a best time of 1.43.541 for Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport, with Max Verstappen fourth for Aston Martin Red Bull Racing with a 1.43.793. No other driver broke the 1’44 barrier, with a group of six drivers, led by Valtteri Bottas who got very close with a 1.44.003, all within less than three tenths of one another, making up the rest of the top ten: Daniil Kvyat sixth for Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda (1.44.177,) Carlos Sainz seventh for McLaren F1 Team (1.44.183,) Alexander Albon in the other Toro Rosso (1.44.216,) Pierre Gasly ninth in the other Red Bull (1.44.216) and Lando Norris tenth for McLaren in 1.44.295.

Overall, it was a good day for Italian teams, with Toro Rosso performing very well, using an updated version of the Honda power unit, as were their sister team Red Bull Racing. Kvyat unfortunately ended up hitting the barriers in the second part of FP2, bringing out the second red flag of the session, following on from one caused by Lance Stroll.

Pierre Gasly’s day turned even worse, as he will have to start Sunday’s race from the back of the grid. He failed to stop at the FIA garage to be weighed on the scales, ignoring the red light and his car number being shown. The infraction was compounded by the fact his team did not immediately push him back to the scales, carrying out a pit stop practice in front of the team garage.

FP 1 had to be abandoned after a drain cover became dislodged from the track and struck the floor of Russell’s car. This was the result of a break on an underside mounting of the drain cover. The session was red flagged and did not resume to allow the appropriate checks to be carried out by the Baku City Circuit, under the supervision of the FIA. All of the drain covers (more than 300) around the circuit have been checked prior to FP2, which began as scheduled at 5 pm local time. There will be further checks tonight to ensure maximum track safety.

There have been similar incidents in the past. These have taken place on permanent race tracks, for example Shanghai in 2005 and Sepang in 2017 and on street circuits like Monaco where, in 2016, Bottas’ Mercedes lifted a drain cover that frighteningly hit Jenson Button’s McLaren.

As for how this can happen, one has to understand that a Formula 1 car is designed to create suction (low air pressure) underneath it as this produces downforce, which in turn gives the tyres more grip. This suction pulls on the road and could lift a loose manhole cover. For example, under the front wing a manhole cover weighing less than approximately 110kg could be lifted by the car

The cancellation of almost all of FP1 and the two interruptions to FP2 considerably reduced the time available for teams to prepare properly for tomorrow’s qualifying and Sunday’s race. That makes predicting the outcome even harder and adds more uncertainty to the rest of the weekend. Ferrari definitely seems very quick on a single flying lap, as it was in Bahrain, but Mercedes is very competitive in terms of race pace and in Formula 1, things can change quickly and at this track, anything can happen during the race.

The Baku City Circuit is also hosting the FIA Formula 2 Championship, which was last in action for its opening round, in Bahrain four weeks ago. Nobuharu Matsushita brought home his second and Carlin’s third ever F2 pole position. The Japanese driver sealed top spot with a time of 1:54.555, to finish ahead of ART Grand Prix’s Nyck De Vries and UNI-Virtuosi’s Luca Ghiotto. Sérgio Sette Câmara, King, Mick Schumacher, Nicholas Latifi, Jack Aitken, Anthoine Hubert and Ralph Boschung completed the top ten. With plenty of twists and turns already in Baku and the Supersofts proving quick, the drivers and teams will now look ahead to tomorrow’s Feature Race, at 12pm local time.

Apart from all the spectacular on-track action, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix knows how to put on a show. Two superstar singers, Cardi B and Jesse J are performing on Saturday and Sunday respectively to the great delight of the thousands of music fans who flock to the Azerbaijani capital over the weekend.

Image - AMG Petronas Media

Archive number: M191536

2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix - Saturday Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport lock out the front row in Baku

Valtteri claimed his eighth Formula One pole position - his second of the 2019 season and first in Azerbaijan
Lewis will start tomorrow's race from P2 on the grid, completing the third front-row lockout for Mercedes-
AMG Petronas Motorsport in 2019 Both drivers will start the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on the Soft tyre.

Valtteri Bottas
This pole feels really good, the entire team did a great job today. We saw early on in the Qualifying that the Ferraris were very quick, as they were all weekend, but by the time we got to Q3 we were able to extract the maximum from our car and the tyres. As the track was evolving and cooling down, our car was behaving better and better, so it was good that it all came together when it really counted. It's nice to start from the front, but nothing is done yet - tomorrow is what counts. As we've seen in the past, anything can happen around this track, so staying out of trouble is going to be important. Race pace is going to be crucial as well as it is relatively easy to overtake on this track. I think it's going to be an exciting race tomorrow, the top teams all looked very close on long run pace, so it should be fun. I have a bit of unfinished business here in Baku from last year, so I'll give my best tomorrow.

Lewis Hamilton
We didn't think we'd be quick enough to lock out the front row here, Charles in particular had been very strong all weekend. We've made improvements and we thought we'd get within one or two tenths, but not quite make it. So I'm really proud of everyone in the team that we did it. This is one of the toughest, most challenging Qualifying sessions and circuits of the season, but I really enjoy the challenge. I've struggled at this track in the past, so I'm grateful to be on the front row. I was really close to getting pole today, my first lap in Q3 was actually quite good, but on my second lap I lost three tenths in the first two corners and while I did make most of it up, it wasn't enough for pole in the end. So I'm happy in one respect, but on the other hand I'm disappointed because I could have taken pole today. I'll try and make a difference tomorrow - the start is going to be important, our long run pace looked good, but there are usually lots of Safety Cars here, so lots can happen in the race.

Toto Wolff
The longer the Qualifying session took today, the better our performance looked. It's really tricky to get the tyre temperatures in the right window and we were struggling with that all weekend long, but when the ambience and track temperatures dropped towards the end of the session, our car was behaving much better than it had all weekend long. We gained relative performance the longer the session went on and by the time we got to Q3, the competitive order had changed. We didn't expect so many cars going out right with us at the end of Q3, so we were bunched up behind them and both Lewis' and Valtteri's outlaps were compromised. As a result, both of them struggled and Lewis lost quite a bit of time in the beginning of his final lap, but it was enough to lock out the front row for us. It's relatively easy to overtake in Baku, so race pace is going to be key tomorrow.

James Allison
We absolutely love coming to Baku, but boy, oh boy, is it stressful! Last night at the end of FP2, looking at a one and a half second gap to the Ferrari of Leclerc in front, today's front-row lockout in Qualifying felt very distant. We were reasonably sure that the car had good lap time in it, but persuading the tyres into a state where they were willing to give their best in a flying lap was not at all easy for the team and far harder still for the drivers. The Qualifying session today showed just how difficult this track is with a number of people finding themselves casualties of the unforgiving walls, so we were very grateful to finish the session with our drivers having managed it immaculately, able to get the car flying and finally to have the 1-2 and we're really pleased that both cars are in good shape for the race tomorrow.

Image - Renault F1 Media

Formula One World Championship


Renault F1 Team faced a disappointing qualifying for tomorrow’s SOCAR Azerbaijan Grand Prix with Daniel Ricciardo twelfth and Nico Hülkenberg eighteenth at the Baku City Circuit.

Both drivers struggled with grip throughout a fragmented Saturday in Baku with qualifying hindered by a number of yellow and red flags. Nico exited at the first stage of qualifying with Daniel falling 0.096secs short of Q3. Due to penalties, both drivers will gain a grid position with Nico lining up seventeenth and Daniel eleventh for Sunday’s race.

Nico Hülkenberg, #27, R.S.19-02, Q: P18, 1:43.427 / FP3: P16, 1:44.043 “I’ve been missing the harmony between myself and the car all weekend. We couldn’t find that sweet spot with the car or the tyres. Things didn’t quite go our way in qualifying with a yellow flag hampering my first fast lap and then I locked up and went in too deep on my second. The race, however, is not written off. We know it will be difficult but we know what’s happened here in the past. You have to be in it, and we’ll race hard tomorrow.”

Daniel Ricciardo, #3, R.S.19-03, Q: P12, 1:42.477 / FP3: P11, 1:43.561 “Considering how the weekend has gone so far, we probably lowered our expectation for today. Twelfth isn’t ideal. This weekend we’ve been a little bit off the pace and small things make a big difference. We’ve made changes from yesterday and certainly made progress. You never know what will happen here. I’m right in the midfield for the start and it can be crazy at this place. We have to keep it clean, keep chipping away and aim to come through the field.”

Alan Permane, Sporting Director “It wasn’t a particularly good qualifying for the team today with both drivers missing out on Q3. The weekend has been difficult and a little intermittent, but that’s the same for all teams and that’s part of the challenge of racing in Baku. Nico has struggled with confidence in the car, while Daniel was slightly happier and managed to get through to Q2 and very close to a shot at the top 10. We know anything can happen here as we’ve seen in the past couple of years, so we’re not counting anything out for tomorrow’s race.”

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