Max Verstappen claimed the Friday double in Baku, edging out Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo.
Max Verstappen: “The whole day has been really positive, except the last lap, everything has been working well. From lap one I felt comfortable in the car, it was handling really well and I was confident with the setup. I think the preparation we did at the factory and in the simulator has allowed us to come here with a strong setup and competitive car from the go. This has definitely been the most positive Friday of the year so far. In the second session I felt I couldn’t get the maximum out of the short run pace due to yellow flags and traffic so we can be very happy to still finish P1. It feels like the cars are quicker through the corners this year, this means if you have a lock up in can be more critical. We are confident heading into Qualifying but also wary that Mercedes will turn their engines up a bit. We are on top at the end of Friday which means they have to catch up so it will be exciting in the session tomorrow. At the end I locked up at turn 1, I could see I wasn’t going to make the corner so decided to take the run off, as I turned right I lost the rear and ended up sliding into the wall.”
Daniel Ricciardo: “It’s been a good day for myself and Max and great that we were in the top three in both sessions. Even though I was second fastest this morning I wasn’t fully content with my session and I knew there was still room to improve in myself and the car. I believe we made those improvements this afternoon and I’m generally a lot happier with where we ended the day. This afternoon was a lot more entertaining, the grip was coming and you could really start to push the car. There’s not much room for error and it’s a pretty high risk circuit in terms of mistakes but that makes it really challenging and rewarding. When you are able to put in a good lap you cross the finish line and smile. Like always, we should not celebrate on a Friday but we are in the ball park, so hopefully tomorrow we can stay at the front.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “The most challenging part of the day was to make the tyres work to get them hot enough. And obviously, when they are not performing 100%, it’s a bit tricky out there on the track. The car feels ok, but we still have to work on that. If you manage to do that, then everything is a lot easier.”
Sebastian Vettel: “We tried something in the afternoon, but I think it is difficult to find the rhythm here as the track is not easy. I believe I was not the only one to go down the escape roads. However, tomorrow is another day. I think we are close. Red Bull is very fast and today it was not just for one lap but throughout both sessions. However, I was pretty happy with our overall job. The straight here is very long, so you have to make sure you are quick enough there. Maybe we may still want to try a couple of things even tomorrow.”
Valtteri Bottas: “Practice one was quite tricky: we were struggling with the setup of the car and it wasn’t so well balanced. Today, we needed multiple laps in a row to generate the temperatures we want for a good balance. FP1 wasn’t a happy session, but we made some changes ahead of FP2 and the car definitely felt more comfortable. We are moving in the right direction and hopefully we’ll make another step this evening. We’ll work hard and if we can find those gains we’ll be right up there fighting for pole position.”
Lewis Hamilton: “It was a difficult day out there. This circuit is a tough one and we had a few challenges that we tried to work through today. We’ve clearly still got lots of work to do ahead of qualifying, but Valtteri’s time in FP2 looked promising, so there is obviously pace in the car, which is encouraging. Now it’s just a case of getting our heads together tonight to work out exactly how to extract that pace across the entire weekend.”