Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas topped the opening free practice session ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, with Max Verstappen ending his session in the barrier.
With drivers having to contend with a very ‘green’ track, many made mistakes in the opening session. Hamilton ran wide at turn two in order to prevent a lock-up and Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley was one of many to lock-up and run wide at turn one. The likes of Romain Grosjean and Lance Stroll also threatened to brush the barrier on the outside of turn fifteen, but narrowly avoided contact. Such was lack of grip, Renault drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz were for forced to end their session early after flat-spotting their tyres whilst completing longer runs.
Scuderia Ferrari German driver Sebastian Vettel was only 10th fastest on the ultra-soft, with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen 13th. As the German was 2.3secs off the pace, the red cars’ speed cannot be representative. However, the Maranello team will not be encouraged by the fact that the Finnish driver was forced to end the session prematurely due to a to a technical issue which appears to be power unit related. He might have to take a grid spot penalty, but Ferrari will hope to avoid this and get the car ready for the second practice session at the Baku City Circuit, which takes place later in the afternoon.
Azerbaijan – Practice 1
|2||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:44.277||0.035||24|
|3||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:45.075||0.833||26|
|5||Esteban Ocon||Force India||1:45.237||0.995||29|
|6||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1:45.559||1.317||11|
|9||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso||1:46.492||2.250||18|
|12||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso||1:46.747||2.505||32|