Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas topped Azerbaijan FP1 ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez. Meanwhile, Ricciardo’s teammate Max Verstappen ended his session in the barrier.
The main issue that faced the drivers was a very ‘green’ track. As a result, a whole bunch of mistakes were made in the opening session. Even defending champion Hamilton was not immune to mistakes as he ran wide at turn two. Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley was one of many lock-up victims at turn one.
Haas’ Romain Grosjean and Williams’ Lance Stroll also got too close for comfort with the barrier on the outside of turn fifteen. Fortunately, they both got away scot free but with their hearts in their mouths.
The lack of grip was so evident that Renault drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz had to bail out early. As it turned out, the two flat-spotted their tyres whilst completing longer runs in Azerbaijan FP1.
Mercedes are keen to forget their woeful Chinese Grand Prix and Bottas answered by topping the session with ultrasofts on.
His lap time of 1:44.242 was 0.035 seconds faster than Ricciardo on the supersoft tyre.
The two Force Indias showed strong pace by finishing 3rd and 5th for Perez and Esteban Ocon respectively. The 2 were on supersofts at the time
Lewis Hamiton was fourth on ultrasofts and almost one second shy of Bottas’ time.
Verstappen crashed half-way through the session as he lost the rear under braking for turn five. He over-corrected and the car rotated right and the left-hand side of the car clipped the wall.
McLaren’s Fernando Alonso was seventh, ahead of Williams’ Sergey Sirotkin, Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. Vettel complained of poor rear grip throughout the session as both Ferraris struggled.
Kimi Raikkonen’s car was on axle stands after Ferrari discovered an issue which currently remains a mystery.