Formula One: Hamilton on top in first practice at Baku Grand Prix

  • AFP, Baku
  • Updated: Jun 17, 2016 20:08 IST
Hamilton outpaced teammate Rosberg by four-tenths of a second on the new Baku street circuit. (AP)

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton topped the times ahead of his championship-leading Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in Friday’s incident-filled opening free practice session for this weekend’s European Grand Prix in Baku.

Hamilton clocked a best lap of one minute, 46.436 seconds on supersoft tyres to outpace Rosberg by four-tenths of a second on the new Baku street circuit.

The tight and dusty circuit, never used before, created a series of problems for the drivers and cars in a session that was red-flagged when Australian Daniel Ricciardo crashed his Red Bull into the wall at Turn 15.

On a disappointing day for the Red Bull team, his teenage Dutch teammate Max Verstappen managed only seven laps before he stopped with an oil leak.

Valtteri Bottas was third for Williams ahead of two-time champion Fernando Alonso of McLaren Honda with four-time champion Sebastian Vettel fifth for Ferrari.

There was little excitement in the early stages as reticent drivers waited for others to go out and clean up the circuit before Hamilton began to set the pace after 22 minutes of the 90.

Incidents then began to follow one another with German Vettel spinning and Russian Daniil Kvat following suit when he went off at Turn 15, but rejoined.

Finn Bottas then went top before Hamilton responded and followed that by glancing the wall in an incident that resulted in a big flat spot on a tyre.

Ricciardo then caused heavy damage to the right side of his car and, on resumption, Spaniard Carlos Sainz of Toro Rosso went off at the same place, but with much less dramatic impact.

In the aftermath of the session, track officials began work on fixing a problem with loose kerbs that had caused a spate of cut tyres.

Track designer Hermann Tilke said: “The bolts that hold them came loose -- it’s the same design in Singapore and there is a hold that the bolt fits into -- this became loose.”

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