Red Bull and Ferrari up the ante in Baku as Mercedes find themselves with more work to do.
Daniel Ricciardo: “I was very happy today. With a street circuit you need confidence in yourself and in the car. The car was well behaved and didn’t take any confidence away from me. There was a good relationship with myself and the car so we will build on that tomorrow. I think we can still find a little bit more but generally I was happy and I think it’s going to be quite a close battle tomorrow and Sunday. The car feels really strong through the castle section in the second sector and I felt comfortable and confident there. It’s a very tight part of the circuit but that’s the place that I felt most comfortable and the RB14 felt strong. I’m sure the others will turn it up a bit in Qualifying and gain in sectors one and three but sector two will be the key for us. The step in grip between the tyre compounds is pretty consistent and fairly linear so no real surprises there. I do remember last year on the Friday both our cars were very quick and we didn’t quite have the same pace in Qualifying, so I’m not going to play it up or anything, but this was all we could ask for today. It is encouraging even if we don’t qualify on the front row tomorrow as I think the race car will be very strong. We are still in the group of favourites.”
Max Verstappen: “Pretty decent day overall, the car is fast so I’m happy about that, though obviously not happy about the incident in FP1, it was a bit windy and I lost the rear, spun and hit the wall but my mechanics did a really good job repairing the car and luckily it didn’t really affect us too much. We pretty much ran to the programme and the car in second practice was very competitive. We were good on both tyre compounds so I’m pretty happy with that. We look quick but of course you always want to improve. Kimi is quick and for sure tomorrow Sebastian will be there, so we still need to improve but it was a good day. We also know that in Qualifying Mercedes have this power mode so they will be quicker but on the other hand, our car was handling well and when you start to feel more and more comfortable in the car you can usually gain three or four tenths on a track like this, so hopefully it will be the same tomorrow. As for the end of the second session I think we just had a faulty sensor issue so no concerns.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “It was an ok day. It was not very easy to start with, so during the first practice we decided to switch to a different set up. Unfortunately these kind of changes take quite a long time, but I’d rather skip or lose some track time in the first session and be ready in the second one. All in all, it was the right decision and our P2 was pretty decent. This is a street circuit but not a traditional one. The grip was really limited, especially since low downforce settings are used here. For sure there are things to improve as always, but we were not far from the top today. I think the long run was ok, the race pace looks good. Now we have to analyze all the data and see what we can do for tomorrow.”
Sebastian Vettel: “I think that in this place it is quite tricky to find the rhythm and in the first session I didn’t. At the beginning of the second one I lacked pace and could not put the lap together, but that can happen very easily here. I made some mistakes under braking, but I think that the long run was a little better. I think we can improve the car for tomorrow and it should be ok. It’s just the beginning after all. We have to understand what the car needs and we have a little bit of time to reset. Hopefully, it can be better tomorrow.”
Valtteri Bottas: “FP1 was better than FP2 because I think we were missing a bit of pace in the second session compared to Ferrari and Red Bull. It was quite difficult to get a lap together, even my best lap today was a bit a messy. It’s not an easy car to drive at the moment, we have some work to do with the balance. But if we get everything right, the car is quick. We have plenty of things to look at tonight so that we make the right changes for tomorrow and Sunday. The fact that we’re here in Baku earlier than in previous years definitely affects the tyres, but the biggest concern is the wind. It’s supposed to be very windy tomorrow and on Sunday which makes a lot of a difference on a street circuit.”
Lewis Hamilton: “It’s been a smooth day. We got through everything we needed without many mistakes and we gathered lots of information. It started out quite warm but cooled down in the afternoon, which made it interesting to try and understand the tyres in both conditions. Overall, we weren’t quick enough today, both Red Bull and Ferrari seem to be ahead of us at the moment. So we’ve got some work to do. I’m going to be knocking on the doors of all the engineers overnight, so that we can hopefully make the right changes.”