Max Verstappen goes quickest again in Baku F1 practice then crashes

Red Bull's Max Verstappen completed a Friday clean sweep by topping an error-laden second practice for Formula 1's Azerbaijan Grand Prix, which he himself capped off with a last-second crash

Max Verstappen goes quickest again in Baku F1 practice then crashes

Verstappen led most of the 90-minute session and wound up heading a tightly-knit top four at the chequered flag, with Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas, team-mate Daniel Ricciardo and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen all within 0.127 seconds.

But Verstappen went into the barriers at the first corner in the dying minutes of practice, attempting to make the run-off area but losing control of his RB13.

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel was not far off team-mate Raikkonen in fifth, while Lewis Hamilton, Vettel's nearest rival in the title fight, could only muster 10th, his best lap recorded on softs early on.

The Baku street circuit had caught out a fair few drivers in the earlier Friday session, but yellow flags were almost a permanent feature in the afternoon, with almost all competitors either making ample use of the run-off areas or brushing the barriers.

The soft was again the tyre compound of choice early on in the session, and Verstappen, picking up where he left off in first practice, swiftly put in a new weekend benchmark of 1m44.288s.

His subsequent lap time gains put him in the 1m43s margin and he ended his first run with a best lap of 1m43.894s.

None of Verstappen's rivals had even surpassed his morning time by that point, although Ricciardo soon improved to 0.220s away and reinstated the Red Bull one-two out front.

Bottas, who had languished down the order after the run on softs, was the first driver to bolt on a set of super-softs half an hour in, but it was Raikkonen who disrupted Verstappen's dominance with his first proper effort on the compound.

Vettel went a tenth quicker than his team-mate shortly afterwards, only for Verstappen to retake the spot with a sole representative lap on super-softs, lowering the weekend's benchmark to 1m43.362s.

The super-soft runs were interrupted at the halfway point when the narrow, twisty Turn 8 claimed its second F1 car of the day, as the Renault of Jolyon Palmer ground to a halt in the barriers with broken right-front suspension.

The session was restarted after 10 minutes of clean-up, but while many drivers carried on with super-soft runs, Verstappen's lap would remain unmatched.

At the flag, the top five wound up well clear of the chasing pack, which was led by Williams rookie Lance Stroll - who outpaced his 11th-placed team-mate Felipe Massa by half a second.

Daniil Kvyat was the lead Toro Rosso in eighth, splitting the two Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, despite having triggered a brief virtual safety car in the first half of the session, as he put debris on track from barrier contact at the sharp right-handed Turn 15.

Fernando Alonso had made an early cameo at the sharp end of the timesheets, running second behind Verstappen, but was eventually shuffled out of the top 10.

His session then came to a premature end with half an hour left on the clock, as he pulled over with smoke bellowing out of his McLaren-Honda and radioed "engine, engine" - McLaren later clarified that it was a gearbox issue.

Haas driver Romain Grosjean endured a particularly troubled time.

He avoided crashing but went off on several occasions at Turn 3 and Turn 8 and was constantly voicing his frustration over a perceived brake problem on the team radio. He finished the session last, 4.4s off the pace.

PRACTICE TWO TIMES:

Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m43.362s - 36
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m43.462s 0.100s 32
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m43.473s 0.111s 34
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m43.489s 0.127s 35
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m43.615s 0.253s 35
6 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 1m44.113s 0.751s 27
7 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m44.306s 0.944s 34
8 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Renault 1m44.321s 0.959s 27
9 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 1m44.484s 1.122s 37
10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m44.525s 1.163s 23
11 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m44.609s 1.247s 33
12 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1m45.515s 2.153s 15
13 Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso/Renault 1m45.733s 2.371s 34
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m45.831s 2.469s 33
15 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m46.003s 2.641s 29
16 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1m46.061s 2.699s 17
17 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Honda 1m46.174s 2.812s 28
18 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber/Ferrari 1m47.150s 3.788s 25
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m47.347s 3.985s 25
20 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m47.722s 4.360s 22


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