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2018 F1

Verstappen crashes in Baku practice as Bottas sets pace

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Valtteri Bottas made fastest lap-time during the first practice session at the 2018 Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix at Baku street circuit. The Finn’s time of 1: 44.424 with his Mercedes, 0.035 seconds faster than the Red Bull speedy Daniel Ricciardo, who maintained his good form after winning in China two weeks ago.

Force India ace Sergio Perez was third, while defending world champion Lewis Hamilton was fourth but nearly a second off the pace set by his Mercedes team-mate and Ricciardo.

“It’s very encouraging for Bottas. He was very solid. It looked like Hamilton had the better of him initially but to be a second up on your team-mate,” Sky F1’s Paul di Resta said.

“It’s quite a mixed-up finishing order. I think Ferrari will come to the party. Maybe teams are just focusing on different things at the moment until the track clears up because it was very dusty.”

Red Bull’s aggressive Max Verstappen continued his early season struggles as he hit the barriers at Turn 5 after 30 minutes of the session and do significant damage to the RB14.

“I stalled in first gear, what do I have to do,” asks Max via team radio just after the incident.

The Dutchman was unable to get his RB14 going again and had to watch the remainder of the session from the Red Bull garage, finishing sixth in the timesheet.

McLaren speedy Fernando Alonso was seventh quickest behind the Force India’s Esteban Ocon, 2.2secs off the pace and 26km/h slower on the main straight than Red Bull’s Ricciardo, who uses the same Renault power unit.

Championship leader – Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was made only 10th, 2.2 seconds off the pace, and the German frequently complained of lacking rear grip.

Team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was three tenths further back in 15th, and the Finn’s session was brought to a premature end by a power unit problem.

“Raikkonen’s problem appears to be power unit related. Whether it is an ERS problem, or ICE”. says SkySports pit-lane reporter.
All Mercedes powered cars enjoyed the first practice session – Williams ace Sergey Sirotkin eighth, ahead of Pierre Gasly’s Toro Rosso, with team-mate Lance Stroll — who finished third in Baku a year ago — 11th.

Renault F1 team suffered a interrupted session with both Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz ending their sessions early after big lock-ups, they made 13th and 20th respectively, while Ferrari powered Haas F1 failed to show the potential of the opening three rounds with Romain Grosjean 14th and Kevin Magnussen 18th.

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