Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc has topped the times in the only full practice session of the day after all drivers essentially turning their first laps for the weekend when Free Practice 1 was interrupted earlier on.
While the teams attempted to squeeze all of their Friday practice programs into just 90 minutes, drivers had to adapt to the dusty Baku City Street Circuit conditions, rubbering in the track for the first time.
The circuit quickly evolved throughout the afternoon, however, plenty of drivers were caught out by the low grip conditions.
Both the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc plus the Silver Arrow duo of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were seen locking up and overshooting their cars into the heavy braking zones, common around the high-speed street circuit.
Racing Point’s Lance Stroll ended his session early, suffering understeer at Turn 2, knocking his front wing and left-front tyre off.
Birthday boy Daniil Kvyat would also finish off his session walking back to the Pit Lane after he lost the rear of his Toro Rosso at Turn 7 late into the afternoon.
Lewis Hamilton avoided what could have been a nasty incident in the closing stages of the session. The Briton brushed bodywork with Haas’ Kevin Magnussen who was attempting to overtake the five-time world champion around the outside at fast left-hander of Turn 13.
Leclerc would go onto to finish the session on top, three-tenths faster than teammate Vettel. Hamilton would follow behind in third while Max Verstappen gave Red Bull Racing plenty to smile about, putting in the fourth fastest lap.
The Red Bull crew have brought in new power unit upgrades this weekend with Honda reporting increased durability and reliability.
Bottas finished fifth while Kvyat had done enough to manage sixth after his late crash.
McLaren’s Carlos Sainz, rookie Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly in the second Red Bull finished only five-hundredths of a second apart with Lando Norris rounding out the top ten.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo could only manage 15th in his Renault machine.
Despite outpacing teammate Nico Hulkenberg, the 2017 winner also looked to be struggling with the circuit conditions after he misjudged his braking point into Turn 1, sailing wide at high-speed into the large run off zone during one of his timed laps.
George Russell was forced to sit out of the session while his car underwent a chassis change after his earlier FP1 incident.
He’ll return to the track tomorrow afternoon for the final practice session of the weekend.
Free Practice 3 sees the cars return to the track again tomorrow with the final hour-long session commencing at 1000 GMT.
Images via Scuderia Ferrari
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