Azerbaijan GP: Leclerc leads commanding Ferrari 1-2 in FP3

Charles Leclerc set a stunning pace in final practice for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as the Ferrari team outpaced its Formula 1 rivals by more than a second.

Azerbaijan GP: Leclerc leads commanding Ferrari 1-2 in FP3

Leclerc was quickest in Friday practice and reinforced his early control of the Baku weekend in emphatic fashion in FP3, which he led for the majority and eventually topped ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel.

The 21-year-old, seeking his first F1 win, set a 1m41.604s that briefly put him 1.2s faster than anyone near the end of the session.

Vettel lapped 0.198s slower than his young teammate to complete Ferrari's one-two, with Max Verstappen next up for Red Bull on a 1m42.852s.

Meanwhile, Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton were stuck in the 1m43s in fourth and fifth.

Leclerc was 0.3s clear of Vettel at the halfway point of the session, with Hamilton the same distance back in third after a longer run on medium tyres.

Switching to softs hauled Hamilton and Bottas closer to the Ferraris, with Hamilton initially edging his teammate by 0.06s but eventually losing out by just over a tenth.

Both were overhauled by Verstappen after the Red Bull driver punched in a 1m42.852s to split the Ferraris and go second, just 0.2s behind Leclerc.

Leclerc then put an enormous gap between Ferrari and the rest of the pack with a 1m41.604s on a fresh set of softs to go 1.2s clear at the top.

Vettel's efforts to match his teammate were hindered when he locked his left front and ran deep into Turn 1, where he took to the escape road. His second effort was tidier, and allowed him to improve to a 1m41.802s.

Hamilton also made mistakes, ending up on the escape roads at Turn 2 and Turn 15, as neither Mercedes showed the sort of pace the team is likely to have in qualifying.

Toro Rosso was a surprise best-of-the-rest, with Daniil Kvyat sixth fastest and 1.6s off the pace.

Kevin Magnussen's Haas split the two Toro Rossos as Alex Albon – briefly fourth fastest at one stage – wound up eighth, and Sergio Perez (Racing Point) and Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) completed the top 10.

Raikkonen was involved in a minor incident with Carlos Sainz near the end of the session as the two drivers appeared to race each other through the end of the final sector and down to Turn 1.

They did not make contact although Sainz complained to his McLaren team over the radio after the bout of slipstreaming.

George Russell completed an early installation in his new Williams chassis following the drain cover incident he suffered at the start of FP1 yesterday. Among the changes Williams has had to make around the new chassis is a new floor, while it also has new Mercedes control electronics and energy store.

The Formula 2 champion went on to complete 20 laps as he clocked his first real Baku mileage in an F1 car, and though he was outpaced by teammate Robert Kubica by 0.3s he was not the slowest.

That fell to Pierre Gasly, as the Red Bull driver ignored performance running in preparation for his pitlane start – though his difficult weekend continued with a near miss with the wall that took him down an escape road.

Cla Driver Chassis Laps Time Gap
1 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari 14 1'41.604  
2 Germany Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 14 1'41.802 0.198
3 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull 16 1'42.852 1.248
4 Finland Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 19 1'43.064 1.460
5 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 17 1'43.176 1.572
6 Russian Federation Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 18 1'43.223 1.619
7 Denmark Kevin Magnussen Haas 19 1'43.294 1.690
8 Thailand Alex Albon Toro Rosso 19 1'43.300 1.696
9 Mexico Sergio Perez Racing Point 15 1'43.430 1.826
10 Finland Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 19 1'43.537 1.933
11 Australia Daniel Ricciardo Renault 20 1'43.561 1.957
12 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 20 1'43.637 2.033
13 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren 20 1'43.924 2.320
14 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren 19 1'43.978 2.374
15 Canada Lance Stroll Racing Point 16 1'44.039 2.435
16 Germany Nico Hulkenberg Renault 19 1'44.043 2.439
17 France Romain Grosjean Haas 16 1'44.374 2.770
18 Poland Robert Kubica Williams 19 1'46.000 4.396
19 United Kingdom George Russell Williams 20 1'46.290 4.686
20 France Pierre Gasly Red Bull 22 1'47.836 6.232
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