FP1: Verstappen quickest as Perez crashes out

Max Verstappen was the surprise leader of a tricky first practice in Baku as Sergio Perez crashed his Force India into the barrier at Turn 8.

The Dutchman has suffered a frustrating season so far, but did manage to set the early pace in Azerbaijan with a best time of 1:44.410 – four tenths quicker than his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo in P2 with both Red Bull drivers switching to supersoft tyres halfway through the session.

Sebastian Vettel, half a second off the pace on soft tyes, rounded off the top three, but not before making full use of the run-off areas, a familiar sight as drivers struggled with a lack of grip and tyre temperature on a grubby, hot street circuit.

Perez finished P4, but his session came to an abrupt end with 25 minutes remaining as he smashed into the barrier at Turn 8 as he tried to negotiate the seriously tight castle section. The session restarted with six minutes on the clock, leaving precious little time for the timesheet to change too much.

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas came P5 and P6 respectively, with the latter suffering from an early spin-out at the same section as Perez.

His Force India team-mate Esteban Ocon, with their differences in Canada settled, finished P7, as Felipe Massa, Kimi Raikkonen and Daniil Kvyat closed out the top 10.

Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson adopted their usual positions as the session backmarkers, but both McLaren-Honda drivers are set to start the race at very back due to a plethora of engine changes ahead of Sunday.

FP1 timesheet

1 Verstappen 1:44:410s
2 Ricciardo 1:44.880
3 Vettel 1:44.967
4 Perez 1:45.398
5 Hamilton 1:45.497
6 Bottas 1:45.737
7 Ocon 1:45.752
8 Massa 1:45.968
9 Raikkonen 1:46.000
10 Kvyat 1:46.617
11 Stroll 1:46.649
12 Magnussen 1:46.721
13 Grosjean 1:46.837
14 Hulkenberg 1:47.217
15 Vandoorne 1:47.446
16 Sainz 1:47.501
17 Alonso 1:47.551
18 Palmer 1:48.525
19 Wehrlein 1:49.048
20 Ericsson 1:49.937

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