Azerbaijan GP 2018

APRIL 27, 2018

Practice 1 Report - Fast and Crash

Valtteri Bottas, Azerbaijan GP 2018
© RV Press

By Dan Knutson

Valtteri Bottas topped Free Practice 1 for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in his Mercedes. Meanwhile, Max Verstappen exited the session early when he spun his Red Bull into the barriers.

The line-up for the weekend was: Mercedes - Lewis Hamilton and Bottas; Ferrari - Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen; Red Bull TAG Heuer - Daniel Ricciardo and Verstappen; Force India Mercedes - Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon; Williams Mercedes -Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin; Renault - Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz; Toro Rosso Honda - Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly; Haas Ferrari - Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen; McLaren Renault - Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne; Sauber Ferrari - Marcus Ericsson and Charles Leclerc.

First out on the 3.731-mile (6.003 km) 20-turn track was Vandoorne.

"I prefer street circuits in general," he said earlier in the weekend. "Probably any driver prefers street circuits because it feels much more on the edge and much nicer when you pull out a good lap, when you have really been on the limit, touched a few walls, or brushed a few walls, you have a much more rewarding feeling after that."

The ambient temperature at the start of the 90-minute session was 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 108 degrees Fahrenheit (42 degrees Centigrade).

Pirelli's slick tire compounds for the weekend were: soft, super soft and ultra soft.

Those tires for the most part were in the pits early in the session as the track was green and dirty, and the drivers were not all that anxious to go out. Hartley proved that by going straight on at Turn 8.

Hamilton laid down an early time of 1:47.563 followed by a 1:46.465.

"This session is all about cleaning the track, laying down some rubber and relearning the circuit," Pirelli tweeted.

More drivers took to the track as the 30-minute mark approached, and Verstappen was the fastest at 1:46.267 and then 1:45.559 on the soft tires.

But a few minutes later he spun and hit the barrier at Turn 8. The car stalled in first gear and he climbed out.

Meanwhile, Ricciardo laid down a 1:45.369 on the softs.

At the 40-minute break, the top 10 were: Ricciardo, Verstappen, Hamilton, Bottas, Hulkenberg, Stroll, Grosjean, Hartley, Alonso and Ocon.

Once again, Vandoorne was the first out as the second part of the session began.

It was still slippery out there, and Hamilton briefly went straight on at Turn 2, and Hartley at Turn 1.

Back on track, Hamilton turned a 1:45.200 on the ultra soft Pirellis. Ricciardo, on the super softs, cut that down to a 1:45.150.

Bottas was now on the ultras and on the move as the clocked a 1:44.242.

Raikkonen wasn't moving at all as the Ferrari mechanics were working on his car. He was out for the rest of the session.

Vettel, with 25 minutes remaining, was down in 20th in the other Ferrari. But he then moved up to 11th.

Both Renault drivers had flat spotted their tires and were also done for the session. They could have used new sets of tires but preferred to save those for the rest of the weekend.

The other drivers were in a similar situation as they did not want to get fresh tires in the waning minutes. So they kept lapping but their times did not improve. An exception was the late-starting Vettel who moved up to ninth. Perez, as well, sneaked in a fast lap at the last minute to jump up to third.

At the end of FP1 the top 10 were: Bottas, Ricciardo, Perez, Hamilton, Ocon, Verstappen, Perez, Alonso, Sirotkin, Gasly and Vettel.