Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo led the way in Friday's opening practice for the 2017 Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, but there wasn't such good news for Sergio Perez, who crashed his Force India heavily at the narrow Turn 8 with around 20 minutes to go.
Daniel Ricciardo backed up Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen's good form in Baku by taking third place in FP2, and the Australian is confident that the team will be in the fight for the rest of the weekend.
Sergio Perez (Force India), who suffered an accident during the first session, nearly tapped the same wall in the second session, leading to a red flag and a brief interruption in mid-session.
Hamilton was left in tenth position, 1.163s off Verstappen, after failing to set a fast lap on the super-soft tyres for the second session in a row.
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Lap times started to tumble as drivers strapped on the supersoft tyres, and Max Verstappen put in a 1:45.409 to go almost a tenth faster than Hamilton. Romain Grosjean set the first timed lap of the day, but only after locking up his brakes on his way round, suggesting Haas are still struggling to get on top of their perennial brake issues.
"It was very weird to be honest", he explained.
Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz eventually finished 10th and 16th, respectively, but they will hope to get a great deal more track time under their belts in Friday's second session.
"But then, suddenly, I lost the rear and then I had a four wheel power slide into the barriers".
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Yet on his first attempt on supersofts, Verstappen squeezed Hamilton off the top by eight-hundredths of a second, the Red Bull showing its prowess through the corners, helped by the Dutchman's considerable commitment.
Although Verstappen was beaten by Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen in qualifying for the Azerbaijan GP, he knows that a wound-down engine and a gear sync problem made all the difference as he ended up fifth on the grid.
The marshals took just over 10 minutes to clear the vehicle and debris, allowing the session to get restarted with just under six minutes to go.
McLaren entered the weekend knowing that Alonso and team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne would be starting from the back because of penalties for using excessive numbers of engine parts. We've clearly still got lots of work to do ahead of qualifying, but Valtteri's time in FP2 looked promising, so there is obviously pace in the auto, which is encouraging.
The gloves are off between Hamilton and Vettel
Vettel was handed a 10 second stop/go penalty but the Brit driver was not satisfied with the punishment. When asked specifically about the penalty Vettel received, he added: "I think it's not driving conduct".
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