Ferrari fastest in Azerbaijan F1 GP practice, Leclerc leading teammate Vettel
German Formula One driver Nico Hulkenberg of Renault in action during the third practice session of the Formula One Grand Prix of Azerbaijan at the Baku City Circuit in Baku, Azerbaijan, Apr. 27 April 2019. EPA/ZURAB KURTSIKIDZE
Finnish Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen of Alfa Romeo Racing in action during the third practice session for the 2019 Formula One Grand Prix of Azerbaijan at the Baku City Circuit in Baku, Azerbaijan, Apr. 27 April 2019. EPA/VALDRIN XHEMAJ
German Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari during the third practice session at the Baku City Circuit in Baku, Azerbaijan, Apr. 27 April 2019. EPA/SRDJAN SUKI
German Formula One driver Nico Hulkenberg of Renault during the third practice session at the Baku City Circuit in Baku, Azerbaijan, Apr. 27 April 2019. EPA/SRDJAN SUKI
Finnish Formula One driver Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes AMG GP during the third practice session at the Baku City Circuit in Baku, Azerbaijan, Apr. 27 April 2019. EPA/SRDJAN SUKI
Baku, Apr 27 (efe-epa).- The final practice session before the season’s fourth Formula One Grand Prix race in Azerbaijan was dominated on Saturday by Ferrari with Charles Leclerc setting the pace ahead of his teammate Sebastian Vettel.
Defending champion Lewis Hamilton had predicted that his Mercedes team would find it tough to achieve the same speed around the track as the blood-red Italian race cars which saw Leclerc lap in one minute 41.604 seconds, 0.198 of a second faster than Vettel.
“Free Practice 2 went really well, I was feeling good out there and I was more comfortable in the car than I was last year,” the five-times world champion said at the end of practice on Friday. “However, the Ferraris are clearly very quick and it looks like they're quite a bit ahead of us, so we'll need to investigate to see where we are losing time compared to them.”
The Mercedes driver said it was not likely that his team would be able to find the seven-tenths of a second difference that Ferrari had over the Silver Arrows on Friday.
“We will do everything we can to push the car in the right direction,” he added, not mentioning the pace that Red Bull was also showing.
Max Verstappen drove his Red Bull into the third-fastest slot, leaving Mercedes down in fourth and fifth place with Valtteri Bottas actually outpacing his teammate Hamilton.
Friday’s practice sessions had been marred with drama dominated by a shattered Williams car after it hit a metal manhole cover.
Many other cars had spun and crashed into barriers.
Behind the Mercedes cars were a tight pack, with Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat and his rookie teammate Alex Albon showing the best times.
Baku specialist Sergio Perez finished ninth and Kimi Raikkonen completed the top-10 in his Alfa Romeo, with teammate Antonio Giovinazzi - who has a 10-place grid drop after having had to change his power unit almost on the same pace, finishing 12th.
George Russell was finally able to drive his rebuilt car Williams after having had the floor pan shattered on Friday by the drain cover.
He was able to clock four-tenths of a second behind teammate Robert Kubica.