Verstappen on top as Red Bull dominate opening practice

Monday, 26 Jun, 2017

"We had to wind the engine down, which cost me quite a bit of lap time", the Dutchman said.

"I'm not blaming the auto, I was just chasing a bit too much", he said. The Russian only managed to get a timed lap in right at the end of FP1 after a heavily disrupted session, so he clearly wanted to make as much of FP2 as he could. "After an action packed race we were confident we could have had at least a podium here in Baku, so I am very disappointed with this outcome".

"It's obviously frustrating when you crash but in Q3 you are trying to give everything and get that last little bit out of the auto", he said. "Mercedes is a bit too quick but with the Ferraris, for sure, we can fight". We are on top at the end of Friday which means they have to catch up so it will be exciting in the session tomorrow.

And he had a late crash, swerving into the barriers at Turn One with a minute to go and damaging both right-hand wheels and suspension and the front and rear wings.

"We have potentially a three-way battle, which is great".

Amid the persistent rumours, Red Bull chief Dr Helmut Marko has said repeatedly that both the Australian and Max Verstappen are under firm contract. "Minor changes tonight, more with us - the track you can get a lot of yourself here, so a few improvements from myself and hopefully we will be there".

If you were a driver intent on honing the set-up of your auto while making the critical decisions with your engineers about the delicate balance between decent cornering grip in the tight stuff and maximum terminal velocity on the superlong straight where top speeds were in excess of 205 miles per hour, there was nothing remotely musing about it. Frustration was rife.

Hamilton was on pole position for the 66th time, with Bottas next, followed by Kimi Raikkonen and Vettel fourth. But even cautious on a tricky track, he nearly collided with Raikkonen. The auto feels ok, but we still have to work on that. I always wanted to emulate Senna, but then you set your sights on new goals, new challenges and new horizons so that's really the discovery phase.

"The track is hard".

"The rear was coming round and I tried to drive out of it but it kept going. I think it says it all".

"Looking at some on-board video stuff example, the Red Bull just looks very stable". However, I was pretty happy with our overall job. So try and be quick and make an under or overcut work.

Bottas said: "We needed multiple laps in a row to generate the temperatures we want for a good balance". To stay there will be really hard, but at least we have better pace than normal.