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Lewis Hamilton fastest in Baku

Sky Sports logo Sky Sports 17-06-2016 skysports.com
Morpheus Bulletin © Provided by BSkyB Morpheus Bulletin

Lewis Hamilton set a searing pace on F1's first day in Baku as the world champion topped the Friday practice timesheets by over half a second. 

While both Ferrari and Red Bull struggled, Hamilton headed a Mercedes one-two from team-mate Nico Rosberg with Force India's Sergio Perez third quickest.

As the field tackled the latest addition to the F1 calendar for the first time, all of the top five runners were powered by Mercedes engines - but none came close to Hamilton as the 31-year-old surged almost seven tenths clear.

Despite only completing eight laps of the new Baku City Circuit in Mercedes' simulator and then declining to walk the track after arriving in the Azerbaijan capital on Thursday, the world champion was quickest in both of the day's practice sessions.

"It was a good day for me and a nice way to start the weekend," said Hamilton.

But on another bad day for world championship leader Rosberg, the German's car broke down during the final stages of Practice Two after becoming stuck in fourth gear.

Rosberg was already 0.690s slower than Hamilton on the supersoft tyres as the Englishman instantly acclimatised to a track containing both the longest straight in F1 and a section of tarmac running past Baku's medieval fort just seven metres wide.

Hamilton's benchmark lap of 1:44.223 in Practice Two was also around five seconds quicker than pre-session forecasts.

  Morpheus Bulletin © Provided by BSkyB Morpheus Bulletin

But while Hamilton impressed, both of Mercedes' closest challengers struggled to adapt to the stop-start nature of the Baku layout. 

After hitting the wall in the morning, Daniel Ricciardo was just 10th for Red Bull while Sebastian Vettel was a modest eighth, almost two seconds adrift.

"We didn't have the speed today that we want for the rest of the weekend," Ricciardo admitted. "We weren't hiding much today to be honest. With these new surfaces if you can just get the tyre to work and get that next step of grip it can equate with quite a big chunk of lap time. We've got to find it and if we do overnight it should be a lot closer tomorrow. But pretty much all the Mercedes-powered cars look pretty strong."

As frustration mounted in the Ferrari cockpit, Vettel disparaged Fernando Alonso for driving 'like a Baku bus driver' when he became stuck behind the McLaren.

The Spaniard was 11th for McLaren after being hit by an oil leak when running as high as fifth. Team-mate Jenson Button was ninth, although any encouragement felt by McLaren fans should be tempered by the team's tendency this year to show up well on Fridays only to then fall away.

Practice Two timesheet1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:44.223.2. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:44.9133. Sergio Perez, Force India, 1:45.3364. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1:45.7645. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:45.9206. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, 1:46.0277. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 1:46.0688. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1:46.2199. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:46. 23410. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1:46.2911. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 1:46.49812. Romain Grosjean, Haas, 1:46.68113. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:46.69414. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 1:46.77415. Esteban Gutierrez, Haas, 1:46.83016. Felipe Massa, Williams, 1:47.06017. Kevin Magnussen, Renault, 1:47.32918. Rio Haryanto, Manor, 1:47.48719. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1:47.77220. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, 1:47.79421. Pascal Wehrlein, Manor, 1:48.01822. Felipe Nasr, Sauber, 1:48.081

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