Verstappen leads Red Bull dominance in practice

Ruben Hill
June 27, 2017

All cars were quickly out on track (apart from Felipe Massa's Williams) to put in their installation laps before getting down to business.

As both Ferraris stayed on soft rubber and made visits to escape roads -Vettel in Turns 8 and 3, Raikkonen Turn 18 - and Hamilton's efforts on supersofts were frustrated by traffic, Verstappen went quickest on the red-banded rubber with 1m 45.409s - hitting 205.5 miles per hour on the man straight - then improved that to 1m 44.410s.

A Red Bull fastest?

That came just before Perez brought out the red flags with just under 20 minutes of the session remaining, wrecking the right hand side of his Force India at the ultra-tight castle section after having several bites of turning into the auto, and most likely jeopardizing his running in a few hours' time.

"Everyone is struggling to get the tyres working, the Red Bulls and the Ferraris perhaps less than some others".

Verstappen was second fastest behind Lewis Hamilton in the first part of qualifying, before fading in Q2 and Q3.

Although he crashed at the street circuit, the Red Bull driver topped the timesheets in Friday practice.

Around the half way mark, the cars returned to the garages for a quick break, before heading out yet again for the remaining 45 minutes.

Vettel was quickest, but there was little to choose between him, Bottas and Verstappen.

While happy with Red Bull's Friday pace relative to the frontrunners, Ricciardo is still wary of the threat from the midfield.

With 20 minutes to go in the session, a red flag interrupted the session when Perez damaged the two wheels on the right side of his vehicle by negotiating the tight n o 8. There was every emotion you could imagine in that race. You just don't want to imagine what could have happened had this wheel hit another car/driver who could have been following Perez through the corner.

"There was a lot of pressure with a minute left".

Even Verstappen, though, became a victim of the low-grip surface and problems keeping the tyres in their operating window - he was one of many drivers to miss their braking point and run into an escape road, in his case at Turn Two.

Red Bull was not the only team struggling on the sinewy, hard-braking track, which made its F1 debut previous year.

Several drivers, including Romain Grosjean, Vettel and Jolyon Palmer, ran off track after locking up on what was a very green track, while Valtteri Bottas had a spin at the uphill Turn 12 on the way out of the tight castle section. "That was one of the most exciting laps I've had all year".

With 30 minutes to go, the focus switched to the super-softs with Verstappen leading the way. He completed the second session in 10th place.

"Where do we start?" "The rear went away a bit", Ricciardo said. Perhaps a setup tweak would help him on a track where acceleration and top speed are all important.

Bottas led qualifying and set an even quicker time on his final lap, only for Hamilton to beat him by almost half a second.

"The only driver who had a clause was Mr Vettel".

"Yeah, here we go again". Obviously it was my mistake but without mistake it's been a very good weekend.

Verstappen posted the fastest time in the first session ahead of Ricciardo and Vettel.

Daniel Ricciardo said he only had himself to blame after crashing out of qualifying at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

But he said running the engine on reduced power due to a rev-limiter problem, a lock-up and a subsequent problem with gear-synchronisation all led to him qualifying further back than the auto was actually capable of.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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