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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Max Verstappen crashes in Azerbaijan GP practice as Valtteri Bottas sets the pace from Daniel Ricciardo

  • Mercedes man Bottas fastest from Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez
  • Verstappen hits barriers at Turn 5 to continue tough start to year
  • Early struggles for Ferrari as championship leader Sebastian Vettel only 10th
The track in action. AP
The track in action. AP

Valtteri Bottas set the pace in opening practice for Sunday's Azerbaijan Grand Prix as Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen crashed and the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were down the order.

Bottas's time of 1 minutes, 44.242 seconds in his Mercedes-GP was enough to put him at the top of the time sheets in the 90-minute session.

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He was 0.035 seconds faster than the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo, who maintained his good form after triumphing in China two weeks ago.

But Ricciardo's teammate Verstappen continued his early season struggles as he hit the barriers at Turn 5 in the middle of the session and do considerable damage to the RB14.

Force India's Sergio Perez was a surprise third for Force India ahead of world champion Lewis Hamilton, with the second Force India of Esteban Ocon in fifth.

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Verstappen was sixth, with his earlier timed efforts prior to his crash leaving him in that spot.

Championship leader Vettel, who won the opening two races in Australia and Bahrain, was only 10th fastest, more than two seconds slower then Bottas's best effort, while Raikkonen was down in 15th place.

Second practice starts at 5pm UAE time and again lasts for 90 minutes. Qualifying is on Saturday, also at 5pm, with Sunday's race beginning at 4.10pm.

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