Azerbaijan Grand Prix: Sprint RecapApril 29, 2023
MoneyGram Haas F1 Team drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen finished Saturday’s 17-lap Azerbaijan Grand Prix Sprint in P11 and P15 respectively, at the Baku City Circuit.
Saturday’s action kicked-off with the first Sprint Shootout, a revised qualifying format for the F1 Sprint. Both drivers safely navigated their respective VF-23s through SQ1 on predetermined Pirelli P Zero Yellow medium tires. Their second timed runs were their ticket into the next session, Magnussen’s fastest lap of 1:44.101 netting him P12 and Hulkenberg recording 1:44.843 to secure P15.
SQ2 meant a new set of medium compounds for the session, and both drivers setting two timed laps. Hulkenberg’s fastest time of 1:43.806 claimed P12, with Magnussen in P14 with a lap of 1:44.332. Charles Leclerc made it two from two in qualifying in SQ3, claiming top spot for the Sprint, ahead of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing.
Due to the Alpine of Esteban Ocon starting the Sprint from the pitlane, Magnussen was elevated to P13 on the grid. Equipped with Yellow medium compounds, both drivers were able to maintain position through the opening lap of the race. A Virtual Safety Car (VSC) was brought out on lap 2, which a lap later developed into a full Safety Car, for car debris and a tire carcass left on track by Yuki Tsunoda in his AlphaTauri. Racing resumed on lap 6 and cars settled into a rhythm.
Tire strategy came into play with those on softs struggling to keep up with the pack, and on lap 10 Hulkenberg and Magnussen dispatched the McLaren of Lando Norris in the space of two corners, for P11 and P12, respectively. One lap later, the Dane overtook his team-mate thanks to the aid of DRS and continued to set competitive lap times all the way to checkered flag, coming home in P11. Hulkenberg was dealing with high tire degradation and unable to clear graining on his rear tires, finishing P15.
Up front, Sergio Perez and Red Bull Racing claimed the first F1 Sprint victory of the season, after an overtake on Charles Leclerc on lap 8, with team-mate Max Verstappen rounding out the top-three finishers.
“The car felt good again, of course, we didn’t change it after yesterday’s qualifying, but I had a good rhythm and our pace was decent. We were fast enough to be in the top 10 – so that’s encouraging for tomorrow. It’s obviously a longer race, and unfortunately I’m starting a bit far down with the problems we had in qualifying on Friday, the electrical issue putting us in P18. But, there’s a lot more pace than that and hopefully I can get a good first lap, have a clean race and try to make it into the top 10. That would be nice.”
“We have to look at that one as it was weird, after the first couple of laps the rear tires completely switched off. I think we had pretty heavy graining, so we need to investigate, but it was definitely going in the wrong direction that race. The Sprint was the long-run practice, so we’ll hopefully learn from that. There’s not much we can do being under parc ferme, which is a bit frustrating, and tomorrow we also start quite far back, so it’s going to be a tough one.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal:
“It was a much better day today than yesterday for us. I think we qualified where we thought we would in the Sprint Shootout, we knew it would be difficult to get into Q3, but we made a big step forward from yesterday. In the Sprint, with Kevin, our race pace was good. Nico struggled a little bit with his rear tires, so we need to find out why. Now we get ready for tomorrow. We still have a chance for points.”
Event: Azerbaijan Grand Prix Sprint Race – Saturday April 29
Location: Baku City Circuit, Baku
Layout: 6.003-kilometer (3.730-mile), 20-turn circuit
Air Temps: 22.2 degrees Celsius (72 degrees Fahrenheit)
Track Temps: 36 degrees Celsius (96.8 degrees Fahrenheit)
Team Result: Kevin Magnussen – Started Sprint 13th / Finished 11th (Running – completed 17/17 laps)
Nico Hulkenberg – Started Sprint 12th / Finished 15th (Running – completed 17/17 laps)
SQ1 Shootout: 12-mins with all 20 Drivers – Top 15 Advance to SQ2
Magnussen: 12th overall (1:44.101) – Advanced to SQ2
Hulkenberg: 15th overall (1:44.843) – Advanced to SQ2
Fastest: Charles Leclerc of Scuderia Ferrari (1:42.820)
SQ2 Shootout: 10-mins – Top 10 Advance to SQ3
Hulkenberg: 12th overall (1:43.806)
Magnussen: 14th overall (1:44.332)
Fastest: Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing (1:42.417)
SQ3 Shootout: 8-mins – Top 10 Drivers
Sprint Pole: Charles Leclerc of Scuderia Ferrari (1:41.697)
Sprint Race Rundown:
Magnussen: 11th overall
Hulkenberg: 15th overall
Sprint Winner: Sergio Perez of Red Bull Racing