Azerbaijan Grand Prix – Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas topped the opening free practice session ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, with Max Verstappen ending his session in the barrier.
With drivers having to contend with a very ‘green’ track, many made mistakes in the opening session. Hamilton ran wide at turn two in order to prevent a lock-up and Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley was one of many to lock-up and run wide at turn one.
The likes of Romain Grosjean and Lance Stroll also threatened to brush the barrier on the outside of turn fifteen, but narrowly avoided contact.
Such was lack of grip, Renault drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz were for forced to end their session early after flat-spotting their tyres whilst completing longer runs.
With Mercedes keen to put their Chinese Grand Prix tyre problems behind them, it was Bottas who topped the session with an ultrasoft compound tyre.
His lap time of 1:44.242 narrowly beat Ricciardo’s time by 0.035 of a second, albeit with the Red Bull driver setting his lap on the supersoft tyre.
At a circuit where they have normally demonstrated strong pace, the two Force India’s of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon finished third and fifth, setting times on supersoft tyres.
Lewis Hamiton ended the 90-minute session in fourth on ultrasofts, but without setting a representative lap time, he was almost one second shy of Bottas’ time.
Verstappen’s troublesome start to the season continued with a crash half-way through the session. The Dutchman lost the rear of the car under braking for turn five and over-corrected, the car rotated right and the left-hand side of the car collided with the wall.
McLaren’s Fernando Alonso ended the session in seventh, ahead of Williams’ Sergey Sirotkin, Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who complained of poor rear grip throughout the session.
The second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen ended his session down in fifteenth with his car on axle stands with a currently-unknown issue.
To view the full results of the session, click here.