Valtteri Bottas topped first practice for Formula 1’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix while Max Verstappen crashed his Red Bull during Friday’s opening session.
Bottas edged the other Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo by just 0.035s in Baku despite having to use ultrasoft tyres to the Australian’s supersofts.
However, Verstappen’s sideways slide into the Turn 5 barriers meant Red Bull’s encouraging start to the street circuit event had a sour note as well.
The first half of the session was a two-by-two affair as first the Mercedes duo jostled over P1 and then the Red Bulls came to the fore, with Verstappen and then Ricciardo going quickest.
Several drivers complained about low grip and Brendon Hartley had a trip down the escape road at the tight Turn 8 into the castle section, but the first real victim was Verstappen.
He lost control of his Red Bull under braking for Turn 5 and appeared to overcorrect the rear of the car stepping out heading towards the 90-degree left-hander.
That swung the rear round to left and caused the car to slide sideways into the barrier on the outside.
A virtual safety car was deployed for almost 10 minutes as the stricken Red Bull was removed to safety.
Significant improvements followed, with Hamilton jumping to first on ultrasofts despite a poor final sector.
Ricciardo, on supersofts, got back ahead of the four-time world champion with a 1m45.150s, but Bottas cleared both on his first ultrasoft run with a 1m44.242s.
That remained the benchmark to the end of the session although Ricciardo, still on supersofts, improved to a time just 0.035s slower as Hamilton remained almost a second adrift of his team-mate.
Sergio Perez took advantage of Hamilton’s mistake to go third-fastest for Force India as the chequered flag came out, within a second of Bottas’s best.
|2||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m44.277s||0.035s||24|
|3||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m45.075s||0.833s||26|
|5||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m45.237s||0.995s||29|
|6||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m45.559s||1.317s||11|
|9||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m46.492s||2.250s||18|
|12||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m46.747s||2.505s||32|