Formula 1

Verstappen leads the way on Friday in Baku

2 Mins read
BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 23: Max Verstappen. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

In a session filled with lock-ups and runs down escape routes, Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen reigned supreme. Almost all drivers had issues, with the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Romain Grosjean struggling the most to keep the car on track.

Two drivers were not able to finish the session – Jolyon Palmer in the Renault Racing Formula 1 Team car who crashed in the same place that Sergio Perez did in the first practice session, and Fernando Alonso, who’s engine in the McLaren-Honda failed halfway through the session. Perez was able to make it out for second practice despite his crash, thanks to some quick work by the Sahara Force India team.

It appeared that the majority of drivers struggled early on in the session, meaning that yellow flags became the norm as journeys down escape routes were common.

Similarly to FP1, Max Verstappen was fastest in the Red Bull Racing car, setting a time of 1.43.362, although in the last few minutes of the session he made contact with the barriers. Following 0.100 seconds behind him was Valterri Bottas, eight places ahead of his team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the other Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team car, who’s session was ended a few laps before the chequered flag.

In third place sat Daniel Ricciardo, once more proving that Red Bull are having a strong weekend thus far after the impressive one-two fastest in FP1. Following close behind in fourth and fifth respectively were the Scuderia Ferrari drivers of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, who seemed to be struggling for pace in relation to the Red Bull’s, not to mention the amount of time they spent off track.

In what was his strongest Friday to date, coming off the back of winning his maiden points in F1, Lance Stroll was a highly respectable sixth fastest, ahead of both Sahara Force India drivers of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon in seventh and ninth, and Daniil Kvyat in eighth – a good result for the young Russian after an odd race with double penalties in Montreal.

As Hamilton completed the top ten, eleventh fastest fell to Felipe Massa, who, for the first time this year, seemed to be genuinely off the pace of his young team-mate. He was closely followed by Alonso, even with his engine failure that brought his running to a premature end.

Carlos Sainz, Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg were thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth fastest, and all seemed to have relatively quiet sessions. Hulkenberg only finished slightly faster than Palmer even after his crash.

Stoffel Vandoorne also finished his session slightly early due to vibrations in the car meaning that he claimed that he couldn’t even see on the straights. He finished seventeenth, ahead of both Sauber F1 Team drivers, Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson, and Romain Grosjean in twentieth, who struggled all session long with brake issues in his Haas F1 Team car.

Even with his crash towards the end of the session, Verstappen has seemed dominant on the first day of the race weekend, displaying promising pace over a single lap and in race pace runs. Whether he will be able to maintain his position in qualifying or the race when Mercedes or Ferrari turn their engines up remains to be seen, but for the meantime, it looks as though Baku could provide a very interesting race weekend indeed.


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