Perez hails 'best Friday' of 2021, Verstappen less satisfied after Baku practice

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Sergio Perez hailed the progress made in understanding his Red Bull car after leading Friday practice at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The Mexican finished a tenth clear of Max Verstappen at the top of the FP2 timesheets in Baku, and a second ahead of Lewis Hamilton in the lead Mercedes down in P11.

And while Perez has shown glimpses of speed before as he gets to grips with the RB16B's unique characteristics, today felt different for Checo.

“Yeah I think we’ve done very good progress,” he said in the paddock.

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“After Monaco, we did a very deep analysis and today, I was like, well I finally understand a bit more this car, how I need to drive it and so on. So in all regards, I think this is the best Friday of the season, the most complete Friday in terms of data, in terms of how comfortable I feel with the car."

While positive, Perez's main issue has been finding the pace over a single lap in qualifying, something Red Bull bosses are keen to see improve.

But Sergio is more confident that he can replicate the pace he showed on Friday on Saturday,

“I think we are definitely going to be in the mix," the two-time podium scorer in Baku predicted, "so hopefully tomorrow we are able to get a good, clean lap, which is very important."

Asked if pole was possible, Perez added: “That would be the target, of course, but tomorrow is when it matters. We have some work to do overnight to try to get a couple of tenths and then we can be in the mix.”

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As for Verstappen, he was left to rue changes made over the lunch break despite Red Bull's strong pace.

“Performance-wise, I think we had a great start to the weekend so far, the car in FP1 felt really decent," he explained.

"I mean I was quite comfortable and then for FP2, we made a few changes to see if it would be better but I think we went a bit backwards.

“We will look overnight at what direction we will go into but nevertheless for the team it was a very good day.”