Max Verstappen mastered the streets of Baku on the opening day of practice for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with him ending the day on top of the time sheets in both sessions.
The Red Bull Racing driver finished Free Practice 1 four tenths of a second ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, with a time of 1:44.410s on the super-soft compound, and with their recent poor performance, it’s good to see Red Bull on the top with a strong car.
Before the Grand Prix, there were a lot of preparation for the R13 at the Milton Keynes-based outfit, the Dutchman believes this preparation has allowed them to come to Baku with a strong setup.
“The whole day has been really positive,” said Verstappen. “Except the last lap, everything has been working well.
“From lap one I felt comfortable in the car, it was handling really well and I was confident with the setup. I think the preparation we did at the factory and in the simulator has allowed us to come here with a strong setup and competitive car from the go. This has definitely been the most positive Friday of the year so far.”
Verstappen was in strong form heading into Free Practice 2 and his performance did not dwindled, as he set a time of 1:43.362 to finish the session on top of the time sheets, ahead of Valtteri Bottas. In the last few minutes of the session, Verstappen made contact with the barriers, with grip levels remaining low around the Baku Street Circuit.
From his performance on Friday, Verstappen is confident heading into Qualifying, but will be wary about the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team, which he feels will mean an exciting session tomorrow.
“In the second session I felt I couldn’t get the maximum out of the short run pace due to yellow flags and traffic,” added Verstappen. “So we can be very happy to still finish P1.
“We are confident heading into Qualifying but also wary that Mercedes will turn their engines up a bit. We are on top at the end of Friday which means they have to catch up, so it will be exciting in the session tomorrow. At the end I locked up at turn 1, I could see I wasn’t going to make the corner so decided to take the run off, as I turned right I lost the rear and ended up sliding into the wall.”