Salem Radio Network News Thursday, June 30, 2022


Motor racing-Monaco winner Perez goes fastest in opening Azerbaijan practice

BAKU (Reuters) – Mexican Sergio Perez carried over his race-winning form from Monaco to Baku as he set the pace in Friday’s opening practice session for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver, who won at the Baku street track last year and is bidding to become the first repeat winner of the race, lapped the 6km layout in one minute, 45.476 seconds, going 0.127 seconds quicker than Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

Perez’s championship leading team mate Max Verstappen was third, 0.334 seconds adrift after suffering a spin on his final flying lap.

Carlos Sainz was fourth in the other Ferrari.

Perez, who goes into the weekend in the form of his life and with a new two-year extension to his Red Bull contract in his pocket, lifted himself into title contention following his Monaco win.

The 32-year-old, who is also now the most successful Mexican driver, is only 15 points behind Verstappen in the overall standings, with Leclerc nine points behind the Dutchman in second.

Behind the top four, Spaniard Fernando Alonso went fifth quickest for Alpine edging out old rival Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes. 

Yuki Tsunoda was seventh for AlphaTauri with Hamilton’s team mate George Russell in eighth.

Frenchman Pierre Gasly was ninth for AlphaTauri ahead of compatriot Esteban Ocon, who rounded out the top-10 for Alpine.

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix, run around an unforgiving layout known for catching drivers out, has a reputation for serving up unpredictable thrillers. 

But drivers negotiated the track without major incident in the opening hour of running.

Mick Schumacher and Nicholas Latifi caused two virtual safety car periods. The German was forced to stop with his Haas spewing water while Latifi lost power in his Williams. 

There were some complaints of ‘porpoising’ or bouncing as the cars sped down the long start-finish straight.

(Reporting by Abhishek Takle; editing by Toby Davis)


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