Verstappen tops FP2 but ends the day in the barrier

Baku First Practice 2 Results
© XPB 

Max Verstappen stayed on top of the field in Baku, in Friday afternoon's eventful second practice for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. However the Red Bull driver didn't have it all his own way, and ended the session in the barriers at turn 1.

Prior to that mishap, Verstappen had rarely been off the top of the timings during the 90-minute session. He was kept on his toes by Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas, who was just a tenth of a second slower despite problems for the Finn flat-spotting his tyres.

Verstappen's team mate Daniel Ricciardo was third fastest ahead of the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel. The top five drivers were covered by just 0.252s.

There was an impressive performance from Williams rookie Lance Stroll who was sixth fastest ahead of Sergio Perez (Force India) and Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso). Perez' team mate Esteban Ocon was ninth ahead of a somewhat underwhelming performance from Lewis Hamilton.

Incidents come thick and fast

The second free practice had picked up in much the same vein as the morning session left off. With everyone starting on soft tyres, Verstappen quickly took up his place at the top of the times with an early benchmark of 1:43.988s, Ricciardo likewise soon resuming in second place.

Drivers continued to find the 3.730-mile, 20-turn street circuit a handful. Romain Grosjean was the first driver of the afternoon to run off in turn 3 in the Haas with further chronic brake issues. Meanwhile Vettel twice ran off at turn 1, and then for variety had to reverse out of the run-off at turn 8.

Both Toro Rossos also had issues. Carlos Sainz locked up in turn 4 while Daniil Kvyat forced into an ugly three-point-turn after overshooting turn 15. Bottas similarly found himself having to perform a spin-turn after overrunning turn 3. Fernando Alonso soon had to do likewise in the Ferrari in turn 15.

Lewis Hamilton's first flying lap of the session was good enough to briefly put him into second before Ricciardo pushed back. There were also strong runs from Force India: despite his car having undergone extensive repairs after its FP1 mishap, Perez was swiftly up to third. That put him just ahead of his team mate Ocon, despite the Frenchman grazing the wall as he pushed.

Kvyat triggers virtual safety car

After half an hour, Bottas was one of the first drivers out on supersofts and was quickly in the top four. Kvyat was also on the red-wall compound, and he scraped the advertising hoarding off the outside of turn 15 to trigger a brief virtual safety car in order for marshalls to clean up the mess. Once that was done, Felipe Massa also sent sparks flying with a close encounter with the barriers.

The supersoft tyres helped put Ferrari into play, with Raikkonen and Vettel briefly top. Verstappen also put on a set of qualifiers and went top with a time of 1:43.362s, Bottas now second one tenth in arrears.

Vettel tried to respond but once again ran into the escape road at turn 8. When he tried to reverse, Vettel found the way out blocked by Massa who had likewise missed the turn and was now temporarily parked right behind him.

Red flag for Palmer

The flurry of mid-session incidents continued with Alonso, Hamilton and then Verstappen all taking to escape roads. That was capped by Jolyon Palmer's Renault hitting the barrier in turn 8, which as with Perez in FP1 brought out a lengthy red flag for car retrieval and track clean-up.

Once the session resumed there was a little over half an hour remaining. The off-track excursions quickly continued, Ocon shooting into the run-off at turn 2 and Grosjean the latest visitor to the escape road at turn 8.

Alonso soon had even bigger problems as his McLaren coasted to a halt with a serious gearbox failure. It was an all-too familiar sight for the team, with both cars already on the back of the grid this weekend because of engine penalties. Alonso's team mate Stoffel Vandoorne also ended his session early, after complaining of excessive vibration.

While most drivers had turned to long distance simulations, Ricciardo took the opportunity to improve to third place in front of the Ferraris while Verstappen and Bottas continued to match times lap-by-lap.

However Hamilton appeared out of sorts with all the interruptions. He had drifted away to the outskirts of the top ten and remained there until the end of the session. He also narrowly averted a collision with Raikkonen going into turn 1.

FP2 ended under yellow after Verstappen understeered into the first corner. He tried to take to the run-off instead but lost grip and slid broadside-on into the barriers, breaking his right-rear suspension.

Free practice 2 results

Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:43.362s 36
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:43.462s + 0.100s 32
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:43.473s + 0.111s 34
4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:43.489s + 0.127s 35
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:43.615s + 0.253s 35
6 Lance Stroll Williams 1:44.113s + 0.751s 27
7 Sergio Pérez Force India 1:44.306s + 0.944s 34
8 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:44.321s + 0.959s 27
9 Esteban Ocon Force India 1:44.484s + 1.122s 37
10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:44.525s + 1.163s 23
11 Felipe Massa Williams 1:44.609s + 1.247s 33
12 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:45.515s + 2.153s 15
13 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:45.733s + 2.371s 34
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:45.831s + 2.469s 33
15 Nico Hülkenberg Renault 1:46.003s + 2.641s 29
16 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:46.061s + 2.699s 17
17 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1:46.174s + 2.812s 28
18 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber 1:47.150s + 3.788s 25
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:47.347s + 3.985s 25
20 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:47.722s + 4.360s 22

Gallery: All the pictures from Friday in Baku

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