Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas tops first free practice session in Baku
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News April 27, 2018 Updated: 6:03 AM PT
BAKU, Azerbaijan -- Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas took the top spot in the first free practice session ahead of the Baku Grand Prix. Mercedes step into the weekend on the back foot. The Brackley based team are off to a rough start as the defending world champions are winless after the first three rounds in the season.
“It was quite difficult to get a lap together, even my best lap today was a bit a messy. It’s not an easy car to drive at the moment, we have some work to do with the balance,” Bottas said.
Bottas finished with a time of 1:44.242 and was 0.035s ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo in second, who took his first win of the season two weeks ago in China.
Force India enjoyed some time in the top ten with Sergio Perez in third and teammate Esteban Ocon in fifth. Perez managed to finish just 0.125s off Bottas’s teammate Lewis Hamilton in fourth. Max Verstappen finished six after his car stalled during the session causing him to lose the rear of his Red Bull which sent him sliding into the wall.
“It was a bit windy and I lost the rear, spun and hit the wall,” Verstappen said. Fernando Alonso finished seventh for McLaren followed by Williams’ Sergey Sirotkin in eighth.
Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly took ninth while Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finished tenth as Ferrari appear to take things easy during the first session. Ferrari are looking to make up for a missed opportunity in China, which could have given them their fourth win of the season.
Lance Stroll finished 11th with Gasly’s teammate Brendon Hartley in 12th. Hartley was running great, but he overshot Turn 8 and ran off into the escape road. Fortunately, he was able to reverse and rejoin the session.
Nico Hulkenberg ended the first session in 13th for Renault with Haas’ Romain Grosjean in 14th after having a small lockup at Turn 3. Kimi Raikkonen joined his Ferrari teammate outside of the front row finishing 15th. Marcus Ericsson, who put points on the board for Sauber, finished 16th with teammate Charles Leclerc in 17th.
Kevin Magnussen took 18th in the second Haas while Stoffel Vandoorne finished 19th. The team at McLaren are hoping benefit from a new part they have brought to this weekend’s race. Carlos Sainz took the final spot on the on the time-sheet in 20th.