This really promises to be an interesting weekend in F1. Not only is Lewis Hamilton back on form but we have the inaugural European Grand Prix at Baku in Azerbaijan. The track has the longest straight in F1 and is a 3.7 mile street circuit.
It’s always interesting of course when the F1 circus goes to a new track, not everything is running smoothly though as was seen in the first practice session today. Lewis Hamilton, fresh from his back-to-back wins in Monaco and Canada finished fastest in both of Friday’s practice sessions.
Session one saw the defending world champion finish 0.377 seconds ahead of team-mate Nico Rosberg with Williams’ Valterri Bottas in third. It wasn’t the easiest of sessions for Hamilton and a few other F1 drivers. Hamilton brushed the wall twice at Turn Three while Daniel Ricciardo crashed hitting the barrier on Turn 15 resulting in his right rear wheel and suspension being tore off.
It wasn’t long before several drivers were complaining that there were some safety problems with the new track. That included both Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button who weren’t pleased with the lack of run-off at Turns Three, Seven and 15. Max Verstappen also had a difficult day with an oil leak meaning he could only manage seven laps in the first practice session.
The gap between the first and second practice sessions saw repair work having to be carried out to the kerbs. They’d been cutting tyres in the first session so hardly an ideal situation for the cars. The problems eased in second practice and more work is likely to be carried out before qualifying on Saturday.
Second practice was again dominated by Hamilton who is now only nine poits behind Rosberg and could even be leading the drivers’ championship after this race. This time he finished 0.69 seconds ahead of Rosberg as Mercedes again dominated.
The Ferrari’s struggled in second practice with Vettel down in eighth and Raikkoen three places behind him. Not a great session for Red Bull either, Verstappen got some more laps but finished seventh with Ricciardo ending a stressful day in 10th. A better time for McLaren though with Button 9th and Alonso 11th.
It certainly promises to be an interesting weekend but unless there are mechanical mishaps or crashes, one that will be dominated by Mercedes. Ferrari are definitely having problems with their tyres and it’ll be fascinating to see If the problems with the circuit continue over the weekend.
I’ll be back tomorrow with news of how qualifying gets on. In the meantime, enjoy your racing.