Azerbaijan GP: Verstappen tops the timesheets, and Austin Tsunoda

Max Verstappen set the pace in first practice for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, as his title rival Lewis Hamilton was seventh.

The two Haas cars had a difficult session, as Nikita Mazepin provided the biggest incident when he hit the wall with a couple of minutes to go in the session, and seconds later Mick Schumacher ran off.

Verstappen’s time of 1m43.184s was less than two tenths behind the fastest lap in the 2019 Grand Prix set by Charles Leclerc, and the Monegasque was second this morning, just four hundredths behind the championship leader.

Verstappen was the last driver onto track in the morning session, while his teammate Sergio Perez was one of the first and placed a strong fourth on the timesheets.

Carlos Sainz was third, making it a good session for Ferrari especially compared to midfield rivals McLaren.

Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris both hit purple patches around two-thirds of the way through the session and Ricciardo went to the top of the timesheets at one point, but the pair were eventually overhauled by the Scuderia and eventually finished fifth and eighth led by the Australian.

Norris had been set to beat Ricciardo’s time, up by a second going into the final sector, but spun on the last corner to end that hope.

Yuki Tsunoda had his own misstep earlier in the session, taking the escape road at turn 4 and then need a many-point-turn to get back onto track.

“You’re doing an Austin Powers there mate”

Tsunoda’s engineer as he freed himself from the Turn 4 runoff

Gasly was sixth and nearly two tenths ahead of Hamilton, although the reigning champion had hot laps disrupted by other incidents.

His teammate Valtteri Bottas (10th) and Fernando Alonso (9th) rounded out the top half.