Azerbaijan GP: Ricciardo Leads Practice As Vettel Finds Faults

Daniel Ricciardo edged out Kimi Raikkonen in the second practice session for the Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix at Baku.

The Aussie clocked a 1m 42.795s to finish 0.069 seconds clear of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen. Ricciardo is seeking back-to-back wins continuing his fine run of form since his victory in the China Grand Prix in Shanghai. Ricciardo and the Red Bull team are confident they have a race-winning car in Baku.

“I feel like I’m driving well and I felt comfortable out there today. That’s the important thing with a street circuit, you want that comfort in yourself and the car.”

“There are a few of us that are going to be close, I certainly feel like I’m up there,”

– Daniel Ricciardo

He added: “Our car in the tight stuff is really good. Sector two I felt comfortable all day – that was really strong for us.

“As always in qualifying, I think the others will turn it up a bit more so I think we’ll probably lose out a bit more in sectors one and three, but sector two will be the key for us.”

“Even if we can’t qualify on the front row then I think the race car will be strong.”

His team-mate Max Verstappen shared a similar confidence after recovering from a spin into the barriers in Practice One and was just a tenth slower meaning a good outing for the team heading into tomorrows final practice.

“We look quick. Of course, you always want to improve and we know that in qualifying they have these power modes so they will be even closer,”

The Dutchman added: “But then, on the other hand, we still have a bit as well and this track is a lot about confidence, so if you feel really good in the car you can get the job done as well.”

Sebastian Vettel admits his lack of pace in today’s practice was NOT down to his Ferrari but rather him not being up to speed.

“This place is a little bit tricky to find the rhythm, it is not so easy,”

– Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel sits with a nine-point advantage over Hamilton at the top of the championship standings heading into Azerbaijan but admits poor positions in both practices are down to him failing to find his limits quick enough. The World championship leader struggled to challenge the top of the timesheet and was 10th and 11th fastest in both practice sessions in Baku.

“This place is a little bit tricky to find the rhythm, it is not so easy,

“This morning I didn’t find it and at the beginning of the second session I wasn’t up to speed.

“But I was pretty happy with the long run in the end so it is OK.” The German said.

“I think the car is fine. As I said, I didn’t get the laps together.

“It can happen very easily here with little mistakes here in braking – but the long run was a lot better.

“We can improve the car a lot for tomorrow and then we should be OK.”

Credit has to go to Vettel for being so honest. We’re excited to see what happens in today’s Qualifying sessions.

Ferrari Team-mate Raikkonen makes changes in first practice.

“All in all, it was the right decision and our P2 was pretty decent. This is a street circuit but not a traditional one.”

– Kimi Raikkonen

Vettel’s team mate Kimi Raikkonen makes changes to his car in the first session, which meant he was able to become the second fastest behind Daniel Ricciardo in the second session by just 0.069 seconds.

“It was not very easy to start with, so during the first practice we decided to switch to a different set-up,” explained Raikkonen.

“Unfortunately these kind of changes take quite a long time, but I’d rather skip or lose some track time in the first session and be ready in the second one.

“All in all, it was the right decision and our P2 was pretty decent. This is a street circuit but not a traditional one.”

“There are things to improve as always, but we were not far from the top today.

“I think the long run was OK, the race pace looks good.”

 Mercedes not quick enough says Hamilton

It was another difficult day for the Mercedes team as they failed to get near their rivals on one-lap or long run pace in the afternoon. Hamilton will be looking to bounce back after Former F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone’s comments about his slow start to 2018. Although he admitted the team were behind both Red Bull and Ferrari.

“I never have expectations so I go into it a bit blind hoping that we will be at the front, but I did anticipate it would be very close from the previous race experiences,” said the Englishman.

“It’s been a smooth day, we got through everything we needed and I did all the laps with not many mistakes and lots of information. But we are not quick enough, Red Bull’s definitely quite a bit ahead and I couldn’t have matched their time today. So we’ve got some work to do.”

When asked which one of the Red Bull and Ferrari teams represented the biggest threat, Hamilton replied: “It’s definitely both. They are both currently ahead still, as they were in the last race, but more so today. Red Bull appears to have picked up quite a bit of pace, so we shall see.

“So we’ve got some work to do. I’m going to be knocking on the doors of all the engineers overnight, so that we can hopefully make the right changes.”

Bottas, who lead the first practice and was 0.069 seconds faster than his team-mate in the second practice added: “It’s not an easy car to drive at the moment, we have some work to do with the balance. But if we get everything right, the car is quick.”

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Written by Lee Mitchell

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