Lewis Hamilton topped the first practice session of the weekend at the all new Baku City Circuit in Azerbaijan, in what was a step into the unknown for the drivers, having never driven round this all new track before.
Hamilton set his first place time of 1:46.435 on the super soft tyres, in a session that was delayed due to the crash of Daniel Ricciardo, who carried too much speed into the Turn 15 left-hander, and lost the rear of the RB12, before hitting the wall on the outside of the corner.
It was a quiet session for many teams as they worked on getting used to the layout of the Baku track, with Scuderia Ferrari having a particularly unimpressive session. For Mercedes AMG PETRONAS it was business as usual however, as Hamilton topped the times from team-mate Nico Rosberg, by four tenths of a second.
Valtteri Bottas was third for the Williams Martini Racing team, in an impressive run completed on the soft tyre, which saw the Finn post a time just six tenths off the pace of the Brit. Bottas was also the fastest driver in the speed traps, clocking up a cracking speed of 351 km/h – the Finn was really flying! He was ahead of the McLaren Honda of Fernando Alonso, a solid effort from the Spaniard at a track many believed would be tricky for the Woking based squad, due to its very long straights.
After a fairly quiet start to proceedings for the Ferrari boys, Sebastian Vettel ended the session in fifth, ahead of Sergio Perez in the Sahara Force India, and the second McLaren of Jenson Button, who had a small off at Turn 3 towards the end of the session, but was able to continue on.
The second Williams of Felipe Massa, who had looked a little twitchy in the FW38 at the start of the session, on what was described as a slippery track by many of the drivers, was eighth, ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr in the first of the Scuderia Toro Rosso runners, and Nico Hulkenberg in the second Force India.
Romain Grosjean was eleventh in the first of the Haas F1 Team cars, ahead of the lowly placed second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, who was in the garage along with team-mate Vettel for the majority of the session, receiving a front wing change. The Finn did however finish ahead of Red Bull Racing driver Riccardo, whose shunt at Turn 15 in the later stages of the session, saw the Australian sustain too much damage to the rear of the RB12 to be able to get back out in the thirteen minutes that remained following the red flag that followed.
Esteban Gutierrez, who had a number of off road moments at Turn 15 during the FP1 session, was thirteenth in the second Haas F1 car, ahead of the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson.
Max Verstappen finished down in sixteenth place after an oil leak early in the session kept the Dutchman in the pits for the majority of FP1, with barely any laps to his name. It was not the best of sessions for the Milton Keynes based squad, who have it all to do in getting the cars repaired in time for FP2, let alone in catching up on missed track time.
Daniil Kvyat was seventeenth in the second of the Toro Rosso’s, over a second slower than team-mate Sainz, and just three tenths ahead of Jolyon Palmer in the first of the Renault Sport F1 Team cars.
Pascal Wehrlein was nineteenth for the Manor Racing Team, ahead of the second Renault of Kevin Magnussen, who had a spin at Turn 3 during the early part of the session. The Renault team have no available spare parts here in Azerbaijan following the damage sustained by both cars in Canada, and so both drivers were taking it relatively easy in this first session of the weekend, so as not to cause any further incidents.
Felipe Nasr sustained damage to the Sauber C35, and finished twenty-first, with the Manor of Rio Haryanto bringing up the rear of the field, in what was an exploratory session for most.
Baku Street Circuit Free Practice 1 Result
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