Verstappen leads 1st practice in Baku; Perez crashes

  • Verstappen leads 1st practice in Baku; Perez crashes

Verstappen leads 1st practice in Baku; Perez crashes

"I hope it's close tomorrow and hope we come out on top".

Verstappen set a 1:44.410 on the super-soft tyres to go fastest of all by 0.470s from teammate Daniel Ricciardo.

"I'm not blaming the auto".

"Cancel out Mercedes - they don't exist today", said Ricciardo. "Just the outcome of trying to get a bit more out of the vehicle". But an engine glitch, requiring a lower mode, cost the Dutchman dearly while Ricciardo crashed out as "a outcome of trying to get a bit too much".

Hamilton recorded the best time in each of the three practice sessions in Baku previous year, before a crash in qualifying ruined his chances of success.

"When you look at sector two, where you have most of the corners, we were very competitive so I can be happy with that". "Relative to Ferrari it looks like we've closed the gap (in terms of speed)".

Bottas led qualifying and set an even quicker time on his final lap, only for Hamilton to beat him by almost half a second. "It was all or nothing", Hamilton said.

"This has definitely been the most positive Friday of the year so far", Verstappen said.

Red Bull has brought aerodynamic updates to Baku, while engine supplier Renault has made improvements to its power unit.

"We're still not flawless yet", the Australian driver said. "Still trying to find the sweet spot".

Hamilton, meanwhile, seemed to get stuck in traffic and with many cars out on track pushing hard it was hard for him to get any room to set a quick time.

"The effect of trying to get a bit more out of it in Q3", he said. I'm a bit disappointed at the moment with fifth, even with all the issues, because we should have been third. And while running second in Canada two weeks ago, Verstappen suffered an electrical problem, before another failure in his RB13 forced him out of a good position in Baku.

"It is looking a lot better, the vehicle in general was always improving", said Verstappen. "Mercedes is a bit too quick but with the Ferraris, for sure, we can fight".

Although not all of Red Bull's retirements were down to vehicle or engine failures - Verstappen exited at Turn 1 in Spain after a clash with Kimi Raikkonen - it is clear that recent engine issues have left the team a bit frustrated.

It is the fourth retirement Verstappen has suffered in the last six races, and none have been of his making.