Leclerc trailed Perez in Friday’s opening session at Baku but they swapped places during the qualifying simulation runs in second practice, with the early 2022 championship leader setting the benchmark time, 0.248s ahead of the FP1 pacesetter. 

Reigning world champion and current points leader Max Verstappen was again slower than his Red Bull teammate on his way to setting the third-fastest time, 0.356s adrift of Leclerc’s timesheet topping effort. 

Verstappen had been forced to abort his first soft tyre run after Perez had brought out the yellow flags when he went straight on at Turn 15.

Fernando Alonso put his Alpine and impressive fourth, albeit nearly a full second down on Leclerc. 

Carlos Sainz had looked on course to match Ferrari teammate Leclerc’s pace but posted a slow final sector, leaving him only fifth in the FP2 order. 

Pierre Gasly ended up sixth as George Russell put his Mercedes seventh to split the AlphaTauri pair, while Esteban Ocon and Lando Norris completed the rest of the top-10 for Alpine and McLaren. 

After heading his Mercedes teammate in FP1, seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton dropped out of the top-10 in FP2 as he could only manage a time good enough for 12th, some 1.6s off the pace. 

The session passed without any crashes, though several drivers including Leclerc, Hamilton and Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel took trips down Baku’s many escape roads.

Williams’ Alex Albon came closest to having a major drama when he brushed the wall at Turn 17, breaking the steering on his car. 

Despite the incident, the Anglo-Thai driver was still able to outpace teammate Nicholas Latifi by eight-tenths, with the Canadian ending up nearly four seconds down and slowest of all in P20.