Sergio Perez was left satisfied as he topped FP2 ahead of Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The Mexican driver was 0.1s ahead of teammate Max Verstappen as Red Bull continued their strong start to 2021.
Perez believes he and his side of the garage have taken an important step forward following a deep analysis after the Monaco Grand Prix and stated today was his best Friday of the season.
“I think we’ve [made] very good progress. After Monaco we did a very deep analysis and today it was like, I finally understand how to drive this car, how I need to drive it, and so on,’’ said Perez.
“In all regards, I think this is the best Friday of the season, the most complete Friday in terms of data, in terms of how comfortable I feel with the car, and yes, I think we are definitely going to be in the mix – so hopefully tomorrow we are going to get a clean lap, which is important.”
Perez struggled to P8 and P9 in qualifying at the last two races but has a very strong record in Baku. He believes he can be in the fight for pole if they can find a bit extra tomorrow.
“That will be the target [pole], of course, but tomorrow is where it matters; we have some work to do overnight to try and get a couple of tenths, and then we can be in the mix,” Perez said.
World Championship leader Max Verstappen was quickest in FP1 but had to settle for P2 in FP2 behind his teammate. Despite not sounding too happy with the car on the radio in the afternoon, he believes it has been a good start to the event.
“We had a good start of the weekend,’’ said Verstappen. “The car felt good in the first free practice and I felt very comfortable.”
“We changed a couple of things for the second session to see if that would be better but I think we went backwards. We’ll have a look this evening in which direction we need to be heading, but for the team it was a good day.”
As usual around Baku, conditions are tricky with a low-grip surface and the wind which makes things very tricky. Nonetheless, Verstappen enjoys the challenge.
“Yes, it was very windy which is never easy, but it’s the same for everyone. It makes driving here a bit more interesting,’’ he said.
“So far we are looking very strong so I am very happy with that, let’s wait and see what we can do tomorrow.”