Verstappen quickest on Friday in Baku, then crashes out

Sergio Perez hits the barriers at turn 8 during Friday practice of the Azerbaijan GP from Baku

The super-soft runs were interrupted at the halfway point when the narrow, twisty Turn 8 claimed its second F1 vehicle of the day, as the Renault of Jolyon Palmer ground to a halt in the barriers with broken right-front suspension. Then suddenly I lost the rear and I had like a four-wheel power slide into the barrier. Completing the top ten were Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat, Force India's Esteban Ocon and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton.

If you were a driver intent on honing the set-up of your vehicle while making the critical decisions with your engineers about the delicate balance between decent cornering grip in the tight stuff and maximum terminal velocity on the superlong straight where top speeds were in excess of 205 miles per hour, there was nothing remotely musing about it. Frustration was rife.

Sergio Perez crashed in the same place as Jolyon Palmer in the first practice sessionAnother hard weekend for Hamilton? He finished the session last, 4.4s off the pace. "It's just a case of getting our heads together tonight to work out exactly how to extract that pace".

"It's been a good day for myself and Max and great that we were in the top three in both sessions", said Ricciardo. Vettel, meanwhile, went off at Turn 8.

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That wasn't enough time for either Mercedes to improve, with Hamilton remaining fifth on his soft-tyre lap from earlier in the session and Valtteri Bottas sixth despite setting a time on the super-softs.

Starting at the back on Sunday will be the McLarens of Stoffel Vandoorne and ex-champion Fernando Alonso after a latest round of engine problems and according grid penalties.

The session ended with a bang as Max Verstappen, erstwhile hero of the hour, showed he can be human sometimes and put his auto in the wall at turn 1.

When it got underway, track temperatures were at a blistering 54 degrees C (129 degrees F). But he could only do a time that put him in fourth with a 1:44.309.

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A ten-minute suspension of the session followed as the marshals attempted to remove the vehicle from the circuit at the gates of Baku's old city, only to find that the pink Force India did not fit in the UNESCO-listed archway.

A disjointed first session had to be stopped for 10 minutes after Force India's Sergio Perez misjudged the tight section at Turns 8 and 9, where he bounced over the entry kerb and smashed into the wall on exit.

Turn 8 was a corner full of incident throughout the session, with a number of drivers running straight on up the escape road.

While nearly every driver could recall a moment they had to take to the run-off area, Romain Grosjean was the main culprit as he complained of brake problems that saw the Haas driver take to the escape road time and again.

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