The two Friday free practice sessions at the Baku City Circuit for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix were shortened for various reasons. The first practice session was cut short and red-flagged after a drain cover came loose and seriously damaged the floor of George Russell’s Williams car.
The first practice session was abandoned with drivers like Antonio Giovinazzi not even setting a timed lap . In the second free practice session, Giovinazzi finished twelfth on the time sheets and set a best lap time of 1:45.366s in 31 laps.
Giovinazzi is yet to score a point since his debut for Alfa Romeo Racing this season. The Italian driver has been out-qualified and outraced by his team-mate Kimi Räikkönen in the first three races.
Giovinazzi did not participate in qualification at the Chinese Grand Prix because of issues with the Control Electronics (CE) unit in his Power Unit (PU). It was the same problem that denied Charles Leclerc victory at the second race in Bahrain.
The works Ferrari team then went to a new specification control unit to solve the problem at the Chinese Grand Prix. But the Alfa Romeo Racing team elected to stay with the old version of the control electronics unit due to problems with the installation.
It cost Giovinazzi dear, as his CE unit failed during qualification before the race. Giovinazzi’s car was fitted with a new CE unit for the race in China. With the team electing to use the new specification CE for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Giovinazzi will be fitted with his third CE for the season.
As each driver can use only two Control Electronic units without penalty for the season, Giovinazzi will take a 10-place grid penalty for using his third unit.
“Again I could only drive one session today. For me it is becoming quite normal as I also missed FP1 in China – at the next race I’ll only show up on Saturday,” said Giovinazzi.
“Joking aside, FP2 was not too bad and I got quite a few laps in. I’m happy with the car and even if I’ve been given a 10-place grid penalty I think something is possible here.”
The third free practice session on Saturday will be hectic for all drivers as they prepare for the qualification and race.