Max Verstappen and teammate Daniel Ricciardo have claimed an unexpected 1-2 result in the opening practice session for the Azerbaijan Formula 1 Grand Prix, although their positions atop the timesheets were flattered thanks to a crash by Force India’s Sergio Pérez.

Pérez brought out the red flags and an lengthy suspension to the session when he took too much kerb through the twisty Turns 8-10 complex, pitching his Mercedes-powered VJM10 into the outside wall. The Mexican’s car was extensively damaged and with marshals struggling to remove his battered car behind the barriers, the session resumed with just six minutes on the clock.

By that point, Verstappen and Ricciardo were 1-2 on the timesheets, a rather surprise result given the RB13 was not expected to be a contender around the high-speed 6-kilometre layout.

Verstappen moved to the top of the timing screens around an hour into the session after bolting on the Super Soft Pirelli tyres, steadily improving to a 1:44.410 time. Ricciardo lapped half a second slower to claim second-fastest.

Despite a number of off-track excursions, championship leader Sebastian Vettel finished third-fastest – ahead of Pérez – while the German’s closest rival Lewis Hamilton was fifth-quickest in his Mercedes ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas. Both Mercedes drivers’ Super Soft runs were compromised by traffic.

Esteban Ocon finished the session seventh-fastest in the second Force India, while the session’s early pacesetter Felipe Massa fell down to eighth place as other drivers improved on the Williams veteran’s early time.

It was a low-key start for Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen, who finished the session ninth-fastest and narrowly avoided hitting the Turn 15 wall. Daniil Kvyat rounded out the top-ten in his Toro Rosso Ferrari.

A fortnight after his maiden points’ finish on home soil and with a private test session at the Circuit of the Americas under his belt, Lance Stroll finished a solid eleventh-fastest and just over half a second adrift of his teammate Massa.

He was followed by the Haas F1 Team duo of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean – the latter yet again moaning about his brakes – while Nico Hülkenberg claimed fourteenth in his Renault, which sported a number of aerodynamic upgrades.

Hülkenberg’s teammate Jolyon Palmer, who is under increasing pressure to save his seat, had an untidy session with two slip-ups under braking at Turn 1. The Briton finished near the bottom of the timesheets, ahead of only the Saubers of Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson.

Stoffel Vandoorne and Fernando Alonso sandwiched Carlos Sainz Jr’s Toro Rosso. All three are set to serve grid penalties this weekend: Sainz for his Canadian Grand Prix collision with Felipe Massa, while the McLaren drivers have yet again had to take on new Honda power unit elements.

Friday’s second practice session in Baku will begin at 17:00 local time (GMT +4).

Driver Team / Entry Time Tyre Laps
1. Max Verstappen nl Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13 1:44.410 Pirelli Super Soft 19
2. Daniel Ricciardo au Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13 1:44.880 Pirelli Super Soft 22
3. Sebastian Vettel de Scuderia Ferrari SF70H 1:44.967 Pirelli Soft 20
4. Sergio Pérez Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10 1:45.398 Pirelli Super Soft 16
5. Lewis Hamilton uk Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08 1:45.497 Pirelli Super Soft 16
6. Valtteri Bottas fi Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08 1:45.737 Pirelli Super Soft 19
7. Esteban Ocon fr Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10 1:45.752 Pirelli Super Soft 24
8. Felipe Massa br Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40 1:45.968 Pirelli Soft 25
9. Kimi Räikkönen fi Scuderia Ferrari SF70H 1:46.000 Pirelli Soft 18
10. Daniil Kvyat ru Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12 1:46.617 Pirelli Super Soft 11
11. Lance Stroll ca Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40 1:46.649 Pirelli Soft 28
12. Kevin Magnussen dk Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17 1:46.721 Pirelli Soft 23
13. Nico Hulkenberg de Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 1:46.837 Pirelli Soft 22
14. Romain Grosjean fr Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17 1:47.217 Pirelli Soft 21
15. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Honda MCL32 1:47.446 Pirelli Super Soft 22
16. Carlos Sainz Jr es Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12 1:47.501 Pirelli Super Soft 13
17. Fernando Alonso es McLaren-Honda MCL32 1:47.551 Pirelli Super Soft 20
18. Jolyon Palmer Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 1:48.525 Pirelli Soft 15
19. Pascal Wehrlein de Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36 1:49.048 Pirelli Super Soft 19
20. Marcus Ericsson se Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36 1:49.937 Pirelli Super Soft 21

Image via Red Bull Racing

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.