Verstappen leads Red Bull one-two in Baku FP1
Azerbaijan Grand Prix - FP1

Verstappen leads Red Bull one-two in Baku FP1

Red Bull led the opening practice session for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after making the best use of the softest compound tyre to beat Ferrari and Mercedes to the top spot.

Verstappen set a 1:44.410 on the super-soft tyres to go fastest of all by 0.470s from teammate Daniel Ricciardo. Red Bull is not expecting the high-speed Baku street circuit to suit its car, but the RB13 showed impressive pace in all three sectors -- including the long straight that finishes the lap.

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel was 0.557s off Verstappen but opted to save his faster super-soft compound tyres for later sessions in the weekend. His title rival Lewis Hamilton did use a set of the super-softs, but failed to improve on his soft tyre time and finished the session over a second off the pace.

After securing a podium at this circuit last year, Sergio Perez put Force India in the mix in first practice with the fourth fastest time, but ended his session early when he smacked into the barriers at Turn 9.

Turns 8, 9 and 10 make up the narrowest section of track on the calendar and Perez attempted to take too much speed into the first left hander at Turn 8 under the shadow of Baku's old city walls. He launched his car over the apex kerb at Turn 8 in the pursuit of a tenth of a second but was unable to get the car back under control before making contact with the barriers on the inside of Turn 9. The accident ripped the right rear wheel clean off the hub and also damaged the front suspension and left-hand side of the car.

A ten-minute suspension of the session followed as the marshals attempted to remove the car from the circuit at the gates of Baku's old city, only to find that the pink Force India did not fit in the UNESCO-listed archway. Only once it had been cleared into a run off area on the other side of the track was the session able to get back underway with less than ten minutes remaining on the clock.

That wasn't enough time for either Mercedes to improve, with Hamilton remaining fifth on his soft-tyre lap from earlier in the session and Valtteri Bottas sixth despite setting a time on the super-softs. Esteban Ocon was seventh fastest on the super-soft tyres ahead of Felipe Massa, who opted not to use the softest rubber. Kimi Raikkonen was ninth after mirroring teammate Vettel's runplan of remaining on the soft tyre throughout.

Daniil Kvyat rounded out the top ten for Toro Rosso ahead of Williams' Lance Stroll, the two Haas drivers, Nico Hulkenberg's Renault and the McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne. Carlos Sainz was limited to 13 laps in his Toro Rosso and finished the session 16th ahead of Fernando Alonso, Jolyon Palmer and the two Saubers.

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