2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix - Saturday
THE ROAD TO POLE
- Red Bull driver Sergio Perez won the first F1 Sprint of the year at Baku, using the P Zero Yellow medium tyre. The Mexican started from P2 on the grid and managed to get past poleman Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) following a Safety Car preceded by a Virtual Safety Car, which was caused by on-track debris as a result of an incident involving AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda. The other Red Bull of Max Verstappen finished third. Perez continued his successful form in Baku, adding to his total of four podiums in seven grands prix (one win, one second place, and two third places).
- Leclerc set the fastest lap in the new Sprint Shootout this morning – 1m41.697s – that determined the grid for the F1 Sprint in the afternoon. The Ferrari driver underlined his recent supremacy over a flying lap in Baku, having already taken three consecutive pole positions from five qualifying sessions there. Perez and Verstappen were second and third, 0.147s and 0.290s behind respectively. Mercedes driver George Russell was fourth with a time of 1m42.252s. The SQ1 session was interrupted a few seconds from the end by Williams driver Logan Sergeant impacting the wall. Leclerc also didn’t complete his final SQ3 run after brushing the barriers in Turn 5, which additionally compromised his team mate Carlos Sainz’s flying lap.
- McLaren driver Lando Norris and Tsunoda were the only two drivers not to keep a new set of soft tyres after Friday’s sessions. The Englishman ended SQ2 with the 10th fastest time and so could have taken part in the final Sprint Shootout but was unable to participate as he didn't have a new set of softs available, as required by the regulations.
- All the drivers used the medium tyre to start the F1 Sprint race, with the exception of Norris on used softs and Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas on new softs. Norris and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon were the only drivers to change tyres during the F1 Sprint.
- Weather conditions for today’s race were similar to qualifying. Between the Sprint Shootout and F1 Sprint, track temperature dropped by 10 degrees centigrade from a peak of 48 degrees in the morning.
- Leclerc claimed the Pirelli Sprint Shootout Award for his P1 on today’s grid. The Monegasque received a Pirelli cap personalised by artist Saiff Vasarhelyi in the colours of the Azeri flag. The cap forms part of a capsule collection from Pirelli’s new merchandise range, as a variant of the iconic podium cap.
A one-stopper should be the quickest strategy according to simulations, starting on the medium before stopping for the P Zero White hard between laps 13 and 18. A slower alternative is to start on soft and then switch to hard between laps eight and 13. Drivers opting for this strategy will have to manage the hard compound carefully, considering the chance of warmer temperatures tomorrow.
Any two-stopper, which is slower on paper but may end up being used if the race is neutralised at any point, would optimally entail starting on the medium. The first option is to change to the medium again between laps 10 and 15, followed by a final stint on hard between laps 25 and 30. To swap to hard at the first stop already, this needs to be brought forward to between laps eight and 13, with the second stop coming between laps 27 and 33.
“The new-format Sprint weekend made this a rather different Saturday at Baku. We saw a spectacular and competitive shootout, with this afternoon’s race probably more closely-fought than it would have been had the result determined the grid for the grand prix, as was the case up to the end of last year. The medium tyre was chosen by the large majority of drivers (17 out of a total 19, as Sargeant didn’t start), with a roughly equal split between new sets and used sets: eight versus nine. This showed how the medium was able to offer not only good peak performance, having been used by all the drivers in SQ1 and SQ2, but also its ability to maintain that level over a notably longer distance. As expected, some of the teams that didn’t expect to have much of a chance of scoring points today used the 17 laps of the sprint race to try two different compounds and gather extra information ahead of tomorrow’s grand prix. From our point of view, an initial view of the data suggests a one-stopper to be the mostly likely strategy, probably using medium and hard. A total of 18 drivers will have two sets of hard tyres available, which would allow them to capitalise on any eventual neutralisations: distinctly possible on this street track, as we saw today both in the Formula 2 Sprint Race and the Formula 1 Sprint.”
The first event of the new F1 Academy celebrated three different winners from the first three races that took place at the Red Bull Ring in Austria. Prema Racing’s Marta Garcia won the first and third races, while Hamda Al Qubaisi (MP Motorsport) won the second race. In Race 1, the podium was completed by Bianca Bustamante (Prema Racing) and Jessica Edgar (Rodin Carlin). Léna Bühler (ART Grand Prix) was second in Race 2, ahead of Lola Lovinfosse (Campos Racing). Hamda Al Qubaisi was runner-up in Race 3, ahead of her sister Amna in third.
Founded in 1872, Pirelli is a company with deep Italian roots now recognised all over the world for its cutting-edge technology, capacity for innovation, and the quality of its products. Motorsport has always played an important part in Pirelli’s strategy, following the ‘race to road’ philosophy. The company has been engaged in motorsport for 116 years and today supplies tyres to more than 350 championships on both two and four wheels. Pirelli pays constant attention to the most efficient use of natural resources and energy, aiming to reach carbon neutrality by 2030.
Pirelli has been Global Tyre Partner of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship since 2011. The company also supplies championships including FIA Formula 2, FIA Formula 3, Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine, FIA World Rally Championship and GT World Challenge, alongside numerous national series.