Formula 1

The Australian was in imperious form on Friday.

Daniel Ricciardo leads eventful Friday practice ahead of Azerbaijan GP

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Daniel Ricciardo continued his momentum from China, by setting the fastest time in practice ahead of the Azerbaijan GP this Sunday.

The Australian was in impressive form as he didn't put a foot wrong on a day when many drivers struggled around the technical Baku street circuit.

One such man was the other Red Bull driver, Max Verstappen, as the Dutchman, under pressure after incidents in recent races, would crash out during the first session, losing control at the rear and sliding into the barrier.

His car would be repaired and in practice two, the 20-year-old would be just over a tenth of a second slower than the best time of 1m42.765s set by Ricciardo.

There would be some concern right at the end though when Verstappen was told to return to the pits with a possible engine issue.

Despite that, Red Bull were effectively the fastest cars on track on Friday with Kimi Raikkonen putting Ferrari into second only thanks to a huge slipstream on the 2.2km main straight behind the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton on his qualifying simulation.

In fact, it was a difficult day for the Scuderia, with Sebastian Vettel and Raikkonen among the most regular visitors to the various escape roads around the track as they misjudged their braking points.

Vettel would make one such error on his attempted qualifying-style lap at Turn 15, meaning his lap time, only good enough for 11th fastest, was not representative.

Mercedes appear better but still not entirely comfortable with their car, as the challenge of building and maintaining temperature in the front tyres plays directly to their main weakness.

Azerbaijan F1 Grand Prix - Practice

Nevertheless, they do appear to be Red Bull's biggest threat with Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton finishing fourth and fifth, albeit three-quarters of a second slower than pacesetter Ricciardo.

The best times in the midfield were largely dictated by who was able to benefit most from a slipstream along the main straight and in that regard, it was Fernando Alonso in sixth for McLaren.

Force India looked the main contenders to finish 'best of the rest' however, with Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon finishing third and fifth in the opening session.

Ocon would follow that up with P7 in the later session, though his Mexican teammate would slip down to 12th.

Azerbaijan F1 Grand Prix - Practice

The long straights in Baku do require a setup more reminiscent of Canada or Monza with low downforce and Renault has been the most aggressive with the skinniest wings of any car.

In Practice 1, both Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg would have to end their running early as the damaged the tyres with lock-ups, perhaps linked to running less wing.

But they would be a little better in Practice 2 with Sainz taking eighth and Hulkenberg tenth, around the positions they would be expected to finish.

In between them, Kevin Magnussen would hustle his Haas through the streets to end the day in ninth for the American team.

AUTO-PRIX-F1-AZE

Down the field, Williams had a slightly more competitive day with Lance Stroll in 14th and Sergey Sirotkin 17th, though still quite some way down on where they would be expected around a low downforce circuit.

Baku is also a track where Toro Rosso may surprise, thanks to the similarities with Bahrain where Pierre Gasly finished fourth.

The Frenchman ran in the top 10 in the morning, offering hope, but slipped down to 15th by the end of the day with teammate Brendon Hartley in 18th.

Charles Leclerc enjoyed a better day in 16th for Sauber, as teammate Marcus Ericsson saw his day ended early by a gearbox problem.

The full classification of Practice 2 can be seen below:

On a separate note, GiveMeSport has joined up to the new official F1 fantasy game and we've even created a league for our readers to test their management skills against the writers.

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Topics:
Max Verstappen
Daniel Ricciardo
Mercedes
Ferrari
Valterri Bottas
Formula 1
Lewis Hamilton
Kimi Raikkonen
Max Verstappen

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