Tag: F2

2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix Recap

The streets of Baku are are typically good for some wild action, but the weekend’s featured races were actually rather calm compared to other years. The non-featured races were a whole different story though, especially the F2 sprint.

In qualifying, American Brad Benavides crashed bringing out a red flag leading to him starting at the back of the field in both the sprint and featured race, two races he ended up not finishing either. The big incident of the weekend though came at the end of the sprint when a massive crash in turn one took out six cars.


The driver of the weekend in F2 is unquestionably Oliver Bearman, who had the fastest lap in practice, qualified in pole position, won the sprint, and stood atop the podium in the featured race. American Jak Crawford snuck onto the podium in the sprint finishing third and came away with another point finishing tenth in the featured race. Championship leader coming into the weekend Ayumu Iwasa really struggled, qualifying 17th, retiring during the sprint, and finishing twelfth on Sunday finishing the weekend with zero points, allowing Theo Pourchaire to take over as the Championship leader after four weekends.

The F1 weekend was the first double qualifying weekend with there only being a single practice on Friday followed by the featured race qualifying. Then Saturday had the sprint qualifying followed by the sprint race, then the traditional Sunday featured race.

Pierre Gasly had a Friday to forget as smoke came pouring out of his car in practice and he found the wall later on in Q1that also saw Carlos Sainz and Zhou Guanyu spin and Nyck de Vries hit the wall. The surprise in Q2 was Sainz off the track again and George Russell in the Mercedes that had so many upgrades in the month break missed Q3. Ultimately it was Charles Leclerc getting a Baku hat trick, grabbing his third consecutive pole in Azerbaijan.

Leclerc continued his qualifying dominance in the sprint qualifying, grabbing pole there as well. The sprint race saw Leclerc hold on for a bit before Sergio Perez was able to get by and dominate the race, finishing nearly 4.5 seconds ahead of Leclerc, with Max Vertappen also making the podium.

Unlike a year ago when Perez beat Leclerc to the first turn, Leclerc held onto the lead early on Sunday, but eventually lost his spot to Verstappen and not long after Perez, as the Red Bulls looked were easily the fastest cars on the track yet again. On lap 10, de Vries went down the escape road that led to a safety car, but before the safety car was determined, Verstappen entered the pit lane, costing his multiple positions. Perez took over the lead of the race and got his pit in during the safety car and didn’t look back completing the double finishing two seconds ahead of his teammate. Leclerc held onto third despite being more than 21 seconds behind Perez, but it did give Ferrari their first podium on a Sunday this season.

With two laps to go George Russel pit for soft tires and managed to secure the fastest lap on the final lap of the day, earning himself an extra point.

With the double, Perez has closed the gap to Verstappen who now only holds a six point lead at the top of the driver standings, while Fernando Alonso is 27 points behind Perez. Red Bull has more than double their nearest competitor in the constructor standings, as it appears they will be running away with that championship this season.


Meanwhile, in Austria the F1 Academy got underway, with Abbi Pulling grabbing herself a double podium, but it was Marta Garcia who stole the weekend. While Amna Al Qubaisi won the middle race of the weekend, Garcia found herself on top of the podium twice, including the first ever F1 Academy race. Garcia came away with 58 points this weekend, while Al Qubaisi securing 36 points, and her younger sister Hamda finishing the weekend with 26 points, one more than Pulling.



F1 Azerbaijan 2023 Preview

F1 is coming off a month long break and return with the race in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. F2 is in Baku as well, so there is plenty to preview. 

During the extended break Mercedes spent a ton of time working on their cars hoping to make them more competitive with the Red Bull team. Lewis Hamilton found himself on the podium in the last race, but admitted he still wasn’t comfortable with the car. Not much is knows as to how well the adjustments will translate to the track, so the Friday practice is incredibly important, especially given it is the only practice before qualifying since it is a weekend that features a sprint race. 

Speaking of the sprint race, that entire process has been reworked for this season, as there will be a separate qualifying specifically for the sprint and the sprint race itself will no longer impact the Sunday grid. That Sunday grid will still be determined via traditional qualifying on Friday following FP1, but now Saturday will be a sprint only day, with qualifying and the race both taking place Saturday. Qualifying will also be an abbreviated version, as SQ1-3 will now be 12 minutes, 10 minutes, and eight minutes while the point structure remains the same. This also means the only practice all weekend will be FP1, which is big in general, but even bigger this week given the month off and so many adjustments to the cars it seems all the teams have made.


Last year Max Verstappen ran away from the rest of the field, beating teammate Sergio Perez by more than 20 seconds, while George Russell also found himself on the podium despite being almost 46 seconds behind Verstappen. Both Ferraris found themselves with a DNF due to mechanical issues, with Charles Leclerc actually leading the race at the time of his car troubles. So, what can we expect this year? My predicted podium is Verstappen-Perez-Fernando Alonso.

I fully anticipate the Red Bulls to have a great weekend just as they did a season ago as their speed on the straights is simply unmatched this season and it is a track that plays right into their favor. Perez had a miserable qualifying in Australia, but drove incredibly well working himself all the way up to fifth despite starting the race in the pit lane. Alonso has seemed reinvigorated this season and is off to a fantastic start, and I expect that to continue. 

Logan Sargeant and Nyck de Vries are the only two drivers still with a zero in the points column, but I think that ends for one of them this weekend. Williams racing has followed the lead of Red Bull and Aston Martin in going to new “super-drilled” brakes. While these were on the cars in Australia and neither Williams car reached the checkered flag, there were some positive takeaways and another month to fine tune should result in at least a point this weekend.

Meanwhile, on the F2 side, I expect to see a podium featuring points leader Ayuma Iwasa to win again but he won’t extend his lead in the driver championship by too much as Theo Pourchaire is my prediction to come through in second, while I think this is the weekend Jak Crawford gets his first podium in a feature race. 


In racing news not tied to this weekend’s race, the F1 Academy, F1’s women’s only circuit, had their preseason testing days, two in Barcelona, Spain and two in Le Castellet, France. They are scheduled to have seven race weekends this season, with three races on each weekend. The only race weekend for the F1 Academy that will be a support race for a F1 weekend is the final Academy race of the season at the Circuit of the Americas in October. They will have their inaugural race weekend this week at the Red Bull Ring. 


Coming out of testing the clear favorite is PREMA Racing’s Marta Garcia as she had one of the top two fastest laps in five of the seven practices, and a top three fastest lap in six of the seven practices in France. Her biggest competition will likely come from Rodin Carlin’s Abbi Pulling, who put in the fastest lap in four of the seven sessions, two more than Garcia and finished second to Garcia in another. The only other driver to put in a fastest lap in France was MP Motorsport’s Hamda Al Qubaisi. The season kicks off in Austria with two free practices and two qualifying sessions