Verstappen tops FP1 standings in Azerbaijan

BAKU, AZERBAIJAN – JUNE 04: Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing walks in the Paddock prior to practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan at Baku City Circuit on June 04, 2021 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen has set the fastest lap of the Azerbaijan GP FP1 session.

Formula 1 is finally back to the streets of Baku for the Azerbaijan GP. The race weekend started with FP1 on Friday.

The session got underway, so the drivers went straight to the race track, which was absent in the 2020 season. Charles Leclerc took the early lead in the practice, followed by his teammate Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris. The Ferrari drivers were exchanging fastest laps in the opening stages. The Virtual Safety Car was deployed to allow marshals to remove the debris from the surface.

Lewis Hamilton wanted to have a redemption after a difficult Monaco GP, so he wasted no time and started setting the pace. The drivers were trying to find the limits at Baku City Circuit, so they had made some mistakes and wide runs. Yuki Tsunoda’s session got a bit more stressful after going to the runoff area in sector 1 and forcing yellow flags. The young AlphaTauri driver struggled with the reverse gear, so it took quite some time for him to come back on track.

Later on, Daniel Ricciardo had a huge lap to get to the first position. Lando Norris was about to beat his teammate’s lap time but spun in turn 16. Eventually, Leclerc and Sainz got ahead. Hamilton and Gasly both had wide runs in turn 15. Max Verstappen barely got ahead of the Monegasque.

The wind intensified, which triggered numerous incidents. Nikita Mazepin had a contact with the barrier in turn 16 at the end of the practice and had likely damaged the rear end of his car. His teammate Mick Schumacher went into the runoff area.

In the end, Verstappen was the quickest driver of the opening free practice in Baku. He was followed by Leclerc and Sainz in the top 3.

The top 10 of the Azerbaijan GP FP1:

1Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing1:43.184
2Charles LeclercFerrari+0.043
3Carlos SainzFerrari+0.337
4Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing+0.446
5Daniel RicciardoMcLaren+0.548
6Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri+0.573
7Lewis HamiltonMercedes+0.709
8Lando NorrisMcLaren+0.812
9Fernando AlonsoAlpine+1.593
10Valtteri BottasMercedes +1.707
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