Green light: FP1 begins
60 minutes, as usual.
Well, the first (and only!) practice session is about to begin
Could be a busy person…
Lewis Hamilton and George Russell are confident that the chaos in Baku could favor Mercedes
The seven-times world champion says he’s not worried about rumors that Charles Leclerc may have had talks with his team principal Toto Wolff. Read more here.
Raw pace ranking after three rounds
This is, in essence, how well a team has performed so far in qualifying this season.
Has F1 lost a trick with this sprint shootout?
Not so much the introduction as the format. They’ve tweaked the normal three-part qualifier elimination format slightly. I would have advocated something a little more radical, or at least something different. Maybe turn it into an actual shootout and have each rider set a timed lap. Any errors and that’s it.
They had that in the early 2000s. If they’re going to experiment, that’s a good thing, but this was an opportunity to experiment with different formats and it was missed. Probably because the teams would never accept it. Ah well.
Rounds remaining this season
Current constructors’ standings after three rounds
Every team so far has scored at least one point. McLaren are doing well to be in fifth place given the poor start to the season they have had. However, they were helped by some other teams’ bad luck. A brilliant start for Aston Martin, who already have 10 points more than they obtained during the whole of last year.
Current driver standings: Top 10
Read more about the format change for this weekend
How effective incentives are remains to be seen. There are still doubts that drivers will risk too much as the points on offer remain unchanged and the potential for costly crash damage is greater.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said in Melbourne it was “absolutely ridiculous” to enter the first sprint race of the year in a road race like Azerbaijan, which has become famous for its dramatic and action-packed racing. action, considering the potential impact on both spare parts and their balance sheet.
“I think from a show point of view, from a fan point of view, it’s probably going to be one of the most exciting sprint races of the year.
Read more from Tom Cary about the changes here.
A reminder of session start times
Friday 28th April
Practice 1: 10.30am BST
Qualifying (for Sunday’s race): 2.00pm
Saturday 29 April
Sprint shootout/qualifying: 9.30am
Sunday 30th April
Race: Midday BST
Good morning F1 fans
Welcome to our coverage of first practice and subsequent qualifying for the 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix. F1 has had an unwanted enforced gap of nearly a month since the checkered flag fell on the Australian Grand Prix at the start this month, and you’d expect some excitement as the sport returns. Obviously.
However, the outlook for the season doesn’t look particularly exciting at the front, with Red Bull and Max Verstappen by far the superior pack. The only hope of a title fight is for Sergio Perez to do something most people think he is incapable of and challenge his Dutch teammate. It’s doable in one or two races…but in one season? Very unlikely, apart from a bit of bad luck that happened to Verstappen. In any case, he is already behind Verstappen by 15 points after the first three rounds.
However, there are a few teams with updates for Baku, it’s a sprint race weekend which adds some drama and danger to things (more on that in a bit) and some racing at this track has been chaotic. Furthermore, the fight behind Red Bull is quite close and intriguing, with the resurgent Aston Martin and Fernando Alonso in particular worth considering.
The biggest talking point from the last race, however, was the revised format of the 2023 sprint race weekend. Previously qualifying for the sprint race took place on Friday, with Saturday’s sprint result setting the grid for the race on Sunday. The changes, only confirmed earlier this week, now mean that the sprint is almost a race in its own right with its own qualifying session and race.
In short: today we have free practice first and then the full three-part qualifying hour that sets the race for Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Tomorrow we have a shortened three-part qualifying session which sets the grid for Sunday afternoon’s sprint. The first eight in that sprint are awarded points, but that now has no relevance to Sunday’s race. There are some complications with grid penalties and so on.
It’s better? That remains to be seen, but at least sacrifice that stupid and useless practice session we had on Saturday before the sprint race. It takes away some of the uncertainty with the sprint no longer defining the grid for Sunday’s race, but maybe it makes more sense to race?