FP2 - 0.1s splits Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari in Azerbaijan

Posted June 24, 2017

Daniel Ricciardo finished the morning session second on the timesheets, nearly half a second down on his team-mate, while championship leader Sebastian Vettel was third in his Ferrari.

Max Verstappen, a pilot of Red Bull, was in the lead during the second free practice for the Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku. He finished the session last, 4.4s off the pace. "This circuit is a tough one", Hamilton said.

Further proof of the circuit's lack of grip came midway through the session when Jolyon Palmer hit the barriers at Turn 9. "We'll work hard and if we can find those gains we'll be right up there fighting for pole position".

But Verstappen went into the barriers at the first corner in the dying minutes of practice, attempting to make the run-off area but losing control of his RB13.

Alonso, who is already due to start Sunday's race from the back of the grid following a series of engine penalties, launched his headrest out of his McLaren as he ground to a halt. Meanwhile, Verstappen went quicker still with a 1:44.410, putting him over a second ahead of Hamilton.

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McLaren is the only team yet to score a point, and continues to be blighted by its unreliable Honda engine, prompting growing speculation that management is out of patience and considering a deal with Mercedes as its engine supplier. Despite running this compound, Verstappen was running 3rd and Ricciardo 6th as the session approached its halfway point.

Sebastian Vettel was the quickest of the two Ferraris in third while the Mercedes duo of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, who failed to set a time on the quickest tyres, were fifth and sixth respectively.

The first practice got underway under a clear sky with track temperatures at a blistering 54 degrees C (129 degrees F).

It promises to be a tricky one.

A ten-minute suspension of the session followed as the marshals attempted to remove the auto from the circuit at the gates of Baku's old city, only to find that the pink Force India did not fit in the UNESCO-listed archway.

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They call the Baku street track a circuit of two halves, because some of it is frankly Mickey Mouse with tight corners and limited space, and some blisteringly fast. It was an error a number of drivers had made, but Verstappen was too late in making the decision to take to the escape road and ended up sliding sideways into the barrier and heavily damaging his vehicle.

Drivers were being severely tested in other sections, too.

Grosjean continued to complain bitterly about the brakes on the Haas - a rather essential component given the high speeds and close walls.

The session was an unhappy one for the Englishman as he struggled to "hook up" his auto to the required set-up for the circuit, but at least he kept away from the walls.

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