Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Baku City Circuit, 2018

Bottas on top as Verstappen crashes in first session

2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix first practice

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Valtteri Bottas narrowly led Daniel Ricciardo in the first practice session for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

But while Red Bull could take some encouragement from being within four-hundredths of a second of Mercedes in practice, they also suffered a setback as Max Verstappen crashed early on. His car snapped sideways at turn five, sending him into the barrier. He attempted to restart the engine using his power unit’s MGU-K but was unable to get going again, meaning he missed more than half of the session.

With his final lap of the session, Sergio Perez gave Force India some encouragement by setting the third-fastest time. He had to back out of a lap earlier on after being held up by Kevin Magnussen’s Haas.

Team mate Esteban Ocon joined him in the top 10, the pair separated by Lewis Hamilton. The reigning world champion was almost a second off his team mate, and late in the session he complained on the radio his car wasn’t turning left properly.

Ferrari gave nothing away about their potential, lapping over two seconds off the pace. Sebastian Vettel was only 10th quickest, five places ahead of Kimi Raikkonen.

Ahead of Vettel was Verstappen’s damaged Red Bull in sixth and Fernando Alonso in seventh. McLaren again practiced using their drivers to give each other slipstreams, Stoffel Vandoorne helping Alonso down the straight on their final runs.

Sergey Sirotkin’s Williams made it five Mercedes-powered cars in the top eight. The midfield looks finely poised again, as he was a hundredth of a second slower than Alonso and had the same margin over Pierre Gasly’s Toro Rosso.

Carlos Sainz Jnr ended the session at the bottom of the times after pitting with an apparent problem on his car.

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Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
177Valtteri BottasMercedes1’44.24226
23Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’44.2770.03524
311Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’45.0750.83326
444Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’45.2000.95824
531Esteban OconForce India-Mercedes1’45.2370.99529
633Max VerstappenRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’45.5591.31711
714Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Renault1’46.4652.22325
835Sergey SirotkinWilliams-Mercedes1’46.4802.23828
910Pierre GaslyToro Rosso-Honda1’46.4922.25018
105Sebastian VettelFerrari1’46.5132.27118
1118Lance StrollWilliams-Mercedes1’46.5902.34826
1228Brendon HartleyToro Rosso-Honda1’46.7472.50532
1327Nico HulkenbergRenault1’46.7492.50711
148Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’46.8562.61423
157Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’46.8612.61910
1616Charles LeclercSauber-Ferrari1’46.8752.63321
179Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’47.0732.83121
1820Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’47.4343.19218
192Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren-Renault1’47.9673.72521
2055Carlos Sainz JnrRenault1’48.7414.49911

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First practice visual gaps

Valtteri Bottas – 1’44.242

+0.035 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’44.277

+0.833 Sergio Perez – 1’45.075

+0.958 Lewis Hamilton – 1’45.200

+0.995 Esteban Ocon – 1’45.237

+1.317 Max Verstappen – 1’45.559

+2.223 Fernando Alonso – 1’46.465

+2.238 Sergey Sirotkin – 1’46.480

+2.250 Pierre Gasly – 1’46.492

+2.271 Sebastian Vettel – 1’46.513

+2.348 Lance Stroll – 1’46.590

+2.505 Brendon Hartley – 1’46.747

+2.507 Nico Hulkenberg – 1’46.749

+2.614 Romain Grosjean – 1’46.856

+2.619 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’46.861

+2.633 Charles Leclerc – 1’46.875

+2.831 Marcus Ericsson – 1’47.073

+3.192 Kevin Magnussen – 1’47.434

+3.725 Stoffel Vandoorne – 1’47.967

+4.499 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’48.741

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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61 comments on “Bottas on top as Verstappen crashes in first session”

  1. I know it’s early, but has Lewis lost it this season ? he really seems on the back foot since losing the win in Australia.

    1. I wonder how often a driver has won the WDC after failing to win any of the first four races of the season.

      Not that I would read too much into the times at this point in the weekend.

      1. A driver has only won the title without having won any of the four opening races seven times in the history of F1. These drivers were Hawthorn (1958), Surtees (1964), Lauda (1975), Scheckter (1979), Rosberg (1982), Piquet (1987) and most recently Prost (1989). It needs to be taken into account that all these seasons only held a maximum of 16-17 races.
        The standout cases are 1) Rosberg, who was the tenth different driver of a record eleven to take a win in the chaotic and tragic 1982 season, and clinched the only win of his title campaign as later as round 14 of 16, and 2) Piquet who by the time of his first win of the year in round 8 of 16 of the 1987 season was facing three different drivers including his teammate who had won two or more races so far until that point of the season, all the while quietly nursing lasting effects of his heavy Imola crash from earlier in the season.

        1. Excellent quick stat work there @johnbeak!

          Mentioning the difference in the number of races per season, also worth noting that the points system in those years was quite radically different, in some cases with points only being scored by the top six. Plus reliability was often a far greater factor in championship results.

          1. In all these cases as far as I am aware, points were only scored by the top 5 (pre 1976) and top 6 (pre 2003)… It’s also worth considering there were more drivers racing in each season for some of this time too…

            With the difference in points scored between first and fourth, also opens up a greater chance for points deficits to be more rapidly closed in the current scoring system than previous systems.

        2. So it’s 30 years ago the last time it happened…

      2. Brilliant, @johnbeak. Thank you ever so much!

    2. @abdelilah I think it’s too early to say. he’s been on the back foot before and then dominated. his form at some of the mid-season tracks is usually unmatched, although I would have expected him to go well in shanghai and that didn’t happen.

      I’m interested in the mclarens persisting with the slipstreaming – I wonder why other teams don’t do it, it must be worth at least a tenth, maybe more.

      1. They did say that they were looking at ways of improving their straight-line speed deficit.

    3. @abdelilah Hamilton maybe seems a bit out of it, but standings-wise, the season has been less of a two-horse race and the points are more spread out among the top four so far. So I wouldn’t say he has lost anything yet. No one has.

    4. Being P1 and noticing the double zero ending of LHs time I wonder if he was just out there amusing himself seeing how precise he could be at achieving a target time.

  2. The once in a generation driver cant seem to control his car so far this year

  3. Crashstappen

    1. I much prefer Max Vercrashen

      1. Sergey Martyn
        27th April 2018, 14:38

        When Red Bull will exile him to Toro Rosso and promote Gasly alongside Ricciardo?
        Max should study the fate of his predecessor and this is the fourth race of the season.

      2. Max Crash-Happens

      3. @mach1, me too since that was the surname I used for Jos when he was racing, Jos had a better excuse though.

    2. Pastor Verstappen gave me a giggle when I read it yesterday.

  4. I know it’s early, but did Ferrari take a serious hit after the clampdown? Jeez.

    1. @makana – good question. C4 were speculating whether both Ferrari and Haas have turned down their engines on Friday as we’re now on race 4 (out of roughly 7 they need to last). But your question is equally valid, given the timing of the FIA directive on exhaust blowing, and also since the speed trap figures of Ferrari were up there with the others.

      1. @makana
        Even with the clampdown, is it significant enough to create a difference of 2 seconds?
        Kimi had his session end early. may be they were trying out a few minor upgrades. maybe they ran heavier fuel loads.

        @phylyp: Engines being turned down seems more likely. The best time last year in FP1 was also around 104 seconds. and the track wasn’t slippery as it was today. Nil improvement in times means that all teams were saving their engines. perhaps…

    2. @makana I think the point raised by @phylyp on engine saving is a bit more relevant. The clampdown was supposed to detract teams from using mappings that would create the blown exhaust effect. Since both Ferrari’s and Haas’ are considerably off their usual pace I don’t think it has anything to do with that, otherwise it would have been only Ferrari.

      1. I thought the mappings were controlled by the supplier and were the same for each customer team? In that case if Ferrari changed the mappings then HAAS would have the mapping change too.

        1. If the effect comes from mapping yes. The rumours say that it is actually manually controlled, and that’s why Vettel has an extra paddle on his steering wheel.

          Regardless, now we know there won’t be any clampdown

          1. @johnmilk Wonder if that paddle will vanish or not!

          2. @makana if they take things literally it shouldn’t, the enforcement is on engine mapping, if it has been manually deployed, it is “within” the rules, and quite clever if you ask me

      1. @phylyp Yes, was just reading! Ok so Ferrari to show up in FP2 :)

  5. Verstappen bringing his A game as usual, I see.

    1. The good thing is he’s usually quite straightforward in interviews, so it’ll be good to hear from him after FP1. Right now, he is massively overshadowing his potential with this sequence of mistakes (and some bad luck).

    2. This kid is quickly becoming the new Pastor Maldonado in F1. My god.

  6. Could this be the comeback from FI?

    We heard they understood the problem, that is always the first step to solve it, hopefully they managed to get on top of things.

    It could also mean that the Merc engine is still the best out there, with the Williams performing considerably better than they have managed until this point

    Still, only FP1 and it seems quite a few of them are hiding performance. Where’s Vettel’s extra paddle at?

    1. It’s definitely promising, at the very least. Obviously they’ll need to do it in a session that matters. But they haven’t even been able to put good practice laps in up to this point, so this has to be a positive. Fingers crossed.

    2. FI have been traditionally strong around Baku. This might exaggerate their progress. But I hope they can carry this over into the race and onwards.
      They had genuine podium pace in 2016 but lost out track position before the race even started with a grid penalty for Pérez and Hülkenberg crashing out of qualifying. In 2017 they had a shot at double podium but lost it when their two roosters did their rooster thing.
      Hm, that’s a funny analogy, two roosters fighting in their cockpits.

      1. @johnbeak I don’t recall Hulkenberg crashing in qualifying for the 2016 race.

        1. @jerejj He spun in sector 3 on his fastest lap in Q2. He was actually on course for matching the lap Perez did in Q3 (which turned out to be the 2nd fastest time of that session). Baku 2016 was a great opportunity for Hulkenberg, which he duly missed…

          1. @neutronstar OK, that explains it, but still, for some reason, I don’t recall that particular spin. Maybe it’s because he didn’t actually crash out of the session, but managed to keep going unlike Lewis in Q3 of the same session, LOL.

    3. Force India is doing once again incredible things with their budget! It’s maybe a little bit too early to tell but if they’re the 4th best team in Baku, they have a shot at the podium if things go wild.

  7. Pffff Max crashing again

    I know its just practice one but I’m getting a little worried

    1. Why worry? No need. It’s Crashstappen… Max Crashstappen! Crashing with no style since 2016.

    2. He lost the rear end under breaking (=mistake 1) and then overcorrected the slide (mistake 2).

      Lost a lot of preparation time and possibly a gearbox, further hampering the results for his team. Meanwhile, Ricciardo is maximizing his track time again and is right up there at the sharp end once again. The weird part is, RedBull might lose Ricciardo and is stuck with paying Verstappen $25 annually for three more years after this one…. geesh that’s rough.

      1. Lol you overreacting guys make my worry go away. Thanks

      2. Rather that than boring young drivers like Vandoorne, Sainz, Ericsson, Magnussen, Stroll, Sirotkin and Hartley. And Riccardo is good but it doesn’t make me sit at the edge of my seat.

        1. This is the first time I’ve head Magnussen being called boring.

          1. Yeh thats funny

      3. 25 millions a year? Isn’t that too soon? I think verstappen is supposed to get like 1\3 of that, not more than that.

    3. The difference between a great lap and a crash is less than an inch…

      When Ayrton Senna started F1, racing at the Las Vegas GP (the one in the casino car park) he crashed when he hit the wall. He turned around after the crash and said that the wall had been moved, hence his accident. Upon checking the circuit, it was determined that the wall had indeed been moved fractionally, which was enough to end Senna’s race and enough for Senna to know that the wall had shifted…

      1. Just to correct myself… It was the 1984 Dallas GP, Pat Symonds said that the wall had shifted by just a few millimetres as little as maybe 10…

    4. @anunaki
      I’m just surprised. In Australia it seemed like a one off error, in Bahrain it seemed like a silly mistake for the 2nd race in a row. In China it started worrying people that he made 3 mistakes in 3 races. I was sure he’d bounce back this weekend… But it definitely hasn’t started well.
      Really disappointing. For a driver who has only gotten better with every race in f1, this season seems like a massive disaster for him already.

      1. Australia his car was compromised early in the race that made it very hard to handle in corners, Bahrain he had an issue with his torque mapping in qualy and a racing incident with Lewis, China he made mistakes overtaking Lewis and mainly Vettel.

        So I’m not that worried about that. Mistakes do happen. It’s more that I’m hoping his season can still be a very good one but he needs a good result soon.

        1. in all fairness he compromised his own car being overly aggressive on the kerbs

          I don’t think there is reason for concern either. I do think however street circuits aren’t really Max’s favourite

        2. To be fair to Max, his fans are even less able to learn from mistakes hahahah: Aus his car was compromised early in the race by HIS OWN handling of the ca; Bahrain same thing in quali, being too aggressive on the throttle/kerb and again ruining his race by HIS OWN doing. Don’t get me started about China.

      2. Thankfully inflammatory words like ‘massive disaster’ aren’t likely even in Max’s vocabulary.

        If this wasn’t a technical issue that caught him out, he’ll have learned about the grip level at that corner and will look forward to a great quali and race weekend.

  8. Another mistake by Crash Max. Is it a record?

    1. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
      27th April 2018, 13:32

      Oh! How didn’t you mention Alonso this time? Oh, because he is seventh?

  9. Is it time to resurrect [and rename] the “Has Maldonado crashed yet” site?

  10. I don’t think it’s surprising Verstappen is going through a bad patch. The nerves had to hit him at some point. Clearly he’s feeling under real pressure for the first time in F1, maybe his entire career. Proof that the sport is still extremely challenging, and not quite as easy as he made it seem. The only surprise is that it has come so early this season, I thought we’d see it later, if he and Red Bull were still in some kind of contention for the title. I also think it may be down to him misjudging last season’s ‘ease’ when he breezed past Hamilton and Vettel, and underestimating how much they would challenge him when so many points are still available. That’s actually a bit daft, he should have realized they’d be more competitive and aggressive now he’s seen as a possible challenger. Still, presumably he can still learn in time once he recovers from the bad run he’s now in.

    1. @david-br I think you’re making a lot of assumptions there. I also think you’re underestimating him.

  11. Just imagine if Max and RedBull late in the season, competing for both titles…. Then the pressure is going to eat the kid up alive.

    1. Or he’ll thrive because he truly believes that’s where he belongs.

  12. Just hoping this latest Max practice crash does not initiate another 3-4 week spate of news stories, reasons, excuses, exchanges followed by more news stories, reasons, excuses, exchanges…

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