Pierre Gasly’s preparations for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix have been heavily disrupted after his Alpine caught fire during the weekend’s only practice session. The Frenchman had run wide at Turn 1 a quarter of the way into the one-hour session and was told over team radio not to change gear. But it quickly became apparent that flames were emerging from the back of the A523 and although Gasly attempted to return to the pits to minimise disruption to his plans, he was forced to stop at the exit of the castle section at the Baku City Circuit. Kevin Magnussen stopped simultaneously in his Haas with a suspected fuel pressure issue leaving him stranded in the runoff area at Turn 1. With qualifying to follow the session, Alpine faces a race against time to repair any internal and bodywork damage to Gasly’s car, with no chance of it being returned until after the end of practice. The team had added a raft of updates to the car for the weekend, including new front and rear suspension, a front wing and bodywork, though it is unclear how many spares of the upgraded components are available. Rival teams have also been set-back, with crucial practice time being eaten into by the red-flag period meaning compromises will have to be made between long-run and short-run simulations.
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