Red Bull’s Max Verstappen topped the times once again, despite crashing out in the final moments of second practice ahead of this weekends Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The Red Bull driver was one tenth faster than the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, with team-mate Daniel Ricciardo third.
The Dutchman was doing his long runs when on his final lap he locked up going into Turn One and was too late to correct the mistake so had to go straight on into the wall.
Kimi Raikkonen was fourth fastest ahead of his Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel. The top three teams were all covered by less than one thousandth of a second between Verstappen and Vettel on track. But there was one name missing Lewis Hamilton, who was only tenth.
The British driver appeared to struggle to get in a clean lap on track as he got caught in traffic, yellow flags and the red flag interrupted his run, meaning he was unable. The red flag came out after Renault’s Jolyon Palmer crashed in the narrowest section of the circuit at turn nine to eleven.
The Brit appeared to lose the rear before sliding into the wall breaking the front suspension. That was the headline accident, but no one can really claim they had a trouble free evening, as nearly everyone had a slight brush at least with the barrier.
The problems the drivers appeared to have was a lack of grip from the supersoft tyres catching a number out on track. This also saw a traffic jam emerge at Turn Nine, after Vettel followed by Massa missed the corner going straight on.
Fernando Alonso went into this weekend knowing he would be most likely be starting last. That now appears certain, after his McLaren once again ground to a halt. Honda had fitted an upgraded MGU-H/turbo for the weekend. The Japanese company was also trying development parts in the engine on Friday.
Williams Lance Stroll was sixth fastest, half a second faster than his team-mate Felipe Massa in Eveleth. Sergio Perez was eighth with his Force India team-mate Esteban Ocon ninth.
It was a good recovery for the Frenchman, who had made contact earlier in the session with the barriers. But Romain Grosjean had more problems with a perceived brake problem on the team radio. He finished the session last, 4.4s off the pace.