Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull Racing continued their good form from the previous race in China. The two free practice sessions on Friday at the Baku City Circuit for the Azerbaijan GP are done and dusted. The form shown by the top teams continued in Baku.
Daniel Ricciardo Leads The Way In Friday Practice
The sessions were held in sunny but cool conditions. The street circuit on Friday takes time to rubber in. On the green and slippery track, drivers routinely went off the track into the escape roads and reversed onto the track.
Free Practice 1 (FP1)
The main takeaways from FP1 were:
- Daniel Ricciardo continued with his top form and led the way for most of the session. The Australian ended the session second fastest, just +0.035 seconds behind.
- Teammate Max Verstappen after some major errors in the previous races needed a clean session. But it was not to be as he crashed into the barriers.
- Valtteri Bottas topped the time charts with a good lap at the end of the session on the ultrasoft tyres.
- Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes are still on the backfoot and not the pace-setters they once were.
- Ferrari struggled as both their drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen languished at P10 and P15 respectively.
- Force India has brought some crucial updates to their car and showed improved form with Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez ending the session P5 and P3 respectively.
Free Practice 2 (FP2)
The second free practice session started in the cool evening temperatures of Baku and the temperatures continued to fall. The key takeaways from FP2 were:
- Ricciardo and Red Bull Racing again showed they could be the team to beat with strong runs through out the session. The Australian topped the time charts.
- Kimi Raikkonen showed Ferrari can turn it around on Saturday as he finished just 0.069s behind Ricciardo. The Finn did get a massive tow on the long start-finish straight from Hamilton.
- Verstappen’s damaged car was ready only 30 minutes after the session started. The Dutchman got through the session without further mishaps and ended P3 on the timesheets.
- Both the championship leaders continued their struggles on Friday. Vettel finished only P11. Hamilton fared a little better at P5 but stil 0.808s behind the leader.
- Fernando Alonso was in usual combative form as he ended P6, even as teammate Stoffel Vandoorne languished at the bottom.
- All the three top teams, Red Bull Racing, Ferrari and Mercedes, were separated by very little in terms of race pace.
- The midfield teams are closely bunched up together.
Ricciardo showed strong form on all the three Pirelli tyres- soft, supersoft and ultrasoft tyres. If Verstappen can eliminate his mistakes the two Red Bull drivers could lead the way on Saturday. Mercedes and Ferrari showed flashes of form, but have a lot of work to do before the all-important qualification session on Saturday evening.
|1||3||Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer||1:42.795||35|
|3||33||Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer||1:42.911||+0.116s||27|
|7||31||Force India Mercedes||1:43.814||+1.019s||30|
|12||11||Force India Mercedes||1:44.142||+1.347s||31|
|15||10||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda||1:44.712||+1.917s||39|
|18||28||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda||1:45.051||+2.256s||36|
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