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Verstappen fastest in Baku as Ferrari again show street form

Verstappen fastest in Baku as Ferrari again show street form

F1 News

Verstappen fastest in Baku as Ferrari again show street form

Verstappen fastest in Baku as Ferrari again show street form

Max Verstappen carried over his form from the streets of Monaco on to those around Baku as he emerged quickest from the opening practice session for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Fresh from his victory in the Principality that propelled him to the top of the drivers' standings for the first time in his F1 career, Verstappen posted a time of one minute 43.184secs around the Azeri capital.

Verstappen finished ahead of Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz as the Scuderia suggested their performance in Monaco was not a one-off despite claims to the contrary in the build-up to this event.

As for Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time champion was down in seventh, seven-tenths of a second behind Verstappen despite initially setting the pace.

The Mercedes driver, aiming to bounce back following the disappointment of losing his title lead in Monaco where he only finished seventh, initially went fastest on the soft tyre.

The 36-year-old Briton was later usurped by McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo as the Australian put behind him his own woes around the streets of Monte Carlo, although he eventually had to settle for fifth fastest

Moments later, team-mate Lando Norris set the quickest times in the opening two sectors, only to lose the back end of the MCL35M out of turn 16, leaving him down in eighth position on the timesheet, 0.812s behind Verstappen.

With the drivers then in the prime of the session late on, Leclerc took over at the top, only for Verstappen to ultimately claim top spot from the Monégasque by just 0.043secs, with Sainz a further three-tenths of a second further back.

Red Bull's Sergio Perez managed to elevate himself into fourth quickest, 0.446s behind his team-mate and a tenth of a second ahead of Ricciardo, with Pierre Gasly in his AlphaTauri also managing to get ahead of Hamilton.

Behind Norris was Alpine's Fernando Alonso, the only driver in the top 10 whose best time was set on the medium tyre, with Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas a lowly 10th fastest, 1.707s back.

Bottas and Hamilton, along with Norris, were all forced to use the run-off at turn 15 at various stages as they became accustomed to the track.

In the bottom half of the timesheet, Aston Martin duo Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel also set their best times on the medium compound, but were 13th and 15th respectively.

Sandwiched in between was AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda who was involved in one of the more entertaining moments of the session when he went off and nudged a barrier at turn four before spending an age reversing his way out of his tight situation.

At the bottom of times was Haas' Nikita Mazepin, with the Russian 3.761s behind Verstappen.

While it was good to see the action on track around what is a high-speed venue for a street circuit, considerable focus this weekend will centre on the flexi-wing debate.

As part of its clampdown and in a bid to test the level of potential flexing on the cars, the FIA has placed locator dots on the rear wings. A protest cannot be ruled out.

Azerbaijan Grand Prix first practice times

1 Max Verstappen [Red Bull] 1:43.184

2 Charles Leclerc [Ferrari] +0.043s

3 Carlos Sainz [Ferrari] +0.337s

4 Sergio Perez [Red Bull] +0.446s

5 Daniel Ricciardo [McLaren] +0.548s

6 Pierre Gasly [AlphaTauri] +0.573s

7 Lewis Hamilton [Mercedes] +0.709s

8 Lando Norris [McLaren] +0.812s

9 Fernando Alonso [Alpine] +1.593s

10 Valtteri Bottas [Mercedes] +1.707s

11 Kimi Räikkönen [Alfa Romeo] +1.759s

12 Antonio Giovinazzi [Alfa Romeo] +1.908s

13 Lance Stroll [Aston Martin] +2.050s

14 Yuki Tsunoda [AlphaTauri] +2.200s

15 Sebastian Vettel [Aston Martin] +2.231s

16 Esteban Ocon [Alpine] +2.262s

17 George Russell [Williams] +2.268s

18 Nicholas Latifi [Williams] +2.590s

19 Mick Schumacher [Haas] +3.715s

20 Nikita Mazepin [Haas] +3.761s

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