Max Verstappen went quickest as practice got underway for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The Dutchman headed Red Bull Racing team team-mate Daniel Ricciardo by almost half a second, with Sebastian Vettel third for Ferrari.
The bulk of the session was run on Pirelli’s soft tyres with Lewis Hamiolton1:44.410s using super-soft Pirellis and ended the session 0.470 seconds seconds clear of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel a tenth further back in third.
Most of the field headed out on the soft tyres early on, with Lewis Hamilton setting the pace for Mercedes, while the Red Bulls opted to run on the medium tyres on offer this weekend. Despite the performance gap between the two compounds Verstappen’s pace was still good enough for third place.
Shortly before the hour mark, teams shifted their focus to the supersoft tyres and on the red-banded tyres Verstappen quickly jumped to the top of the order by 0.088s and ten minutes later he put distance between himself and his rivals with his best lap, which proved good enough to keep him in P1 until the flag fell on the session.
Behind Riccairdo also improved, stealing P2 with a lap of 1:44.880 to finish 0.470s behind his team-mate. Vettel, also now running supersofts, slotted into third place with a time of 1:44.967, to stand 0.557 behind pacesetter Verstappen.
Twenty minutes from the end of the session, the red flags were brought out when Sergio Perez crashed heavily at Turn 8.
The Mexican took too much kerb on the left –hand side of the track as he approached the corner and skidding straight through the turn into the wall on the right-hand side of the track. The impact ripped off his right rear wheel and caused significant damage to the side of the car. Perez, who scored his most recent podium finish here last year, with third place, was sitting in fourth place at the time of the crash and his time of 1:45.398 was good enough to hold the place until the end of the session. He was the last man to finish within a second of Verstappen. Hamilton was fifth, 1.087 behind the Dutchman, although the Briton failed to get a clean lap the supersofts.
The session resumed with six minutes to go, though there were few improvements before the flag fell.
2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:44.410s – 19
2 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:44.880s 0.470s 22
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:44.967s 0.557s 20
4 Sergio Perez Force India 1:45.398s 0.988s 16
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:45.497s 1.087s 16
6 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:45.737s 1.327s 19
7 Esteban Ocon Force India 1:45.752s 1.342s 24
8 Felipe Massa Williams 1:45.968s 1.558s 25
9 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:46.000s 1.590s 18
10 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:46.617s 2.207s 11
11 Lance Stroll Williams 1:46.649s 2.239s 28
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:46.721s 2.311s 23
13 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:46.837s 2.427s 22
14 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:47.217s 2.807s 21
15 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1:47.446s 3.036s 22
16 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:47.501s 3.091s 13
17 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:47.551s 3.141s 20
18 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:48.525s 4.115s 15
19 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber 1:49.048s 4.638s 19
20 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:49.937s 5.527s 21