Hitech Grand Prix’s Jüri Vips was the fastest man in the first Formula 2 session of the Baku weekend. He set a 1:55.924 to end Practice fastest of all, ahead of Lawson and teammate Marcus Armstrong.
Jack Doohan and Frederik Vesti followed in fourth and fifth places respectively, but all the drivers ended up getting less track time than they would have hoped around the fast Baku City Circuit.
Free Practice got underway with blustery conditions. Strong winds kept the trees that line the circuit blowing as the drivers took to the track for their initial laps. A dusty surface meant times were unrepresentative in the early phases of the session.
Ralph Boschung took the top spot with a 1:56.911 as more competitive times filtered in, two-tenths clear of Lawson who was P2. PREMA Racing’s Dennis Hauger occupied third position, almost a second down on Boschung’s session-topping effort.
Enzo Fittipaldi was the first to have a brush with the wall. The Charouz Racing System driver nudged the exit wall at Turn 4 but was able to continue without any visible concerns. Clément Novalak found himself facing the wall soon after in the first sector, bringing out the red flag. He avoided any contact with the barriers but couldn’t find reverse, necessitating a recovery of the MP Motorsport car.
The session was back to green with 20 minutes remaining but not for long. Boschung’s joy at the top was short-lived as he was the next to find the wall. The Campos Racing man lost the rear end of his car on downshift and spun backwards into the barrier at Turn 5, bringing out the red flags once more.
Green flags were back waving in the breeze with six minutes left of the only practice session of the weekend. It prompted a rush to get out on track and make use of the final moments of running time ahead of Qualifying.
With the track at its best entering the final two minutes, improvements began to filter through. Hauger moved up to second until teammate Jehan Daruvala took the top spot on his final lap with a 1:56.698. Felipe Drugovich matched Daruvala's time exactly but Jüri Vips left it until the dying moments of the session to take the top spot and break into the 1:55s. The Hitech man set a 1:55.924 to end Practice fastest of all.