Kimi Räikkönen finished fourteenth on the time sheets with a best lap time of 1:45.482 over thirty laps for Alfa Romeo Racing, yet the veteran driver was not pleased with the events on Friday.
The two Friday free practice sessions at the Baku City Circuit for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix were riddled with stoppages. 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 FIA and the circuit officials had to inspect all the drain covers around the circuit for safety reasons. The first practice session was abandoned after only the Scuderia Ferrari drivers had set timed laps .
The second free practice session was also stop and go with two red flags as drivers struggled on the dusty and low grip track surface. The drivers did not get enough time to test the setups and tyre performance as they normally would on Friday. This fast and narrow street circuit offers a big challenge to the teams to find the sweet spot in setups.
The loss of time especially in the first practice session and the lack of data will seriously hamper the teams in their preparation for the qualification and race.
“Obviously it was far from ideal for everybody and we looked like amateurs here today,” said Räikkönen. “It should not be like this. It’s up to the FIA to make sure that the track is like it’s supposed to be.
“It seems to be that every year some drainage hole comes loose, or something slides up. Luckily nobody got hurt, but it obviously destroyed everybody’s day.”
The third free practice session on Saturday will be crucial for the teams to get in enough practice and get ready for the qualification session later in the day.