Valtteri Bottas narrowly led Daniel Ricciardo in the first practice session for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

But while Red Bull could take some encouragement from being within four-hundredths of a second of Mercedes in practice, they also suffered a setback as Max Verstappen crashed early on. His car snapped sideways at turn five, sending him into the barrier. He attempted to restart the engine using his power unit’s MGU-K but was unable to get going again, meaning he missed more than half of the session.

With his final lap of the session, Sergio Perez gave Force India some encouragement by setting the third-fastest time. He had to back out of a lap earlier on after being held up by Kevin Magnussen’s Haas.

Team mate Esteban Ocon joined him in the top 10, the pair separated by Lewis Hamilton. The reigning world champion was almost a second off his team mate, and late in the session he complained on the radio his car wasn’t turning left properly.

Ferrari gave nothing away about their potential, lapping over two seconds off the pace. Sebastian Vettel was only 10th quickest, five places ahead of Kimi Raikkonen.

Ahead of Vettel was Verstappen’s damaged Red Bull in sixth and Fernando Alonso in seventh. McLaren again practiced using their drivers to give each other slipstreams, Stoffel Vandoorne helping Alonso down the straight on their final runs.

Sergey Sirotkin’s Williams made it five Mercedes-powered cars in the top eight. The midfield looks finely poised again, as he was a hundredth of a second slower than Alonso and had the same margin over Pierre Gasly’s Toro Rosso.

Carlos Sainz Jnr ended the session at the bottom of the times after pitting with an apparent problem on his car.

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First practice visual gaps

Valtteri Bottas – 1’44.242

+0.035 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’44.277

+0.833 Sergio Perez – 1’45.075

+0.958 Lewis Hamilton – 1’45.200

+0.995 Esteban Ocon – 1’45.237

+1.317 Max Verstappen – 1’45.559

+2.223 Fernando Alonso – 1’46.465

+2.238 Sergey Sirotkin – 1’46.480

+2.250 Pierre Gasly – 1’46.492

+2.271 Sebastian Vettel – 1’46.513

+2.348 Lance Stroll – 1’46.590

+2.505 Brendon Hartley – 1’46.747

+2.507 Nico Hulkenberg – 1’46.749

+2.614 Romain Grosjean – 1’46.856

+2.619 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’46.861

+2.633 Charles Leclerc – 1’46.875

+2.831 Marcus Ericsson – 1’47.073

+3.192 Kevin Magnussen – 1’47.434

+3.725 Stoffel Vandoorne – 1’47.967

+4.499 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’48.741

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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