Max Verstappen was fast in practice on Friday, but he also crashed at the end of FP2. (Photo: Steven Tee/LAT Images)
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Max Verstappen showed that Red Bull could be a contender in Baku by topping the times on Friday, although his afternoon ended with a heavy crash right at the end of FP2.
The Dutchman slid into the barrier at Turn One, breaking the gearbox off the back of the car. As it is a Friday gearbox there will be no penalty, with the race version always scheduled to be fitted on Saturday.
“I think the whole day has been really positive, apart from the last lap,” said the Dutchman. “Everything else was working really good, from lap one I felt really good in the car, even though in the short runs in practice I could not take the maximum out of it because of traffic and yellow flags and stuff, so we can be quite happy with this.
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“From the simulator up to here, the balance was working really well, so the preparation we did at the factory was very good and the car was working straight away also on the track so the correlation is good, and I think also from the engine side we had a little bit of an update so that is always positive.
“To be first with not an ideal lap – first of all I went out of the garage with yellow flags and virtual safety car, so you cannot warm up the tires as you want to, so still to be up there is very positive.”
Regarding the crash, he said: “It was very weird to be honest. I locked up and I was still trying to make the corner and then I decided to play it safe and take the exit road, but then suddenly I lost the rear and then I have a four wheel power slide into the barriers. It is okay but we have new parts and luckily it was nothing for the race. So it is all good.”
He remains cautious on form for the rest of the weekend.
“You always have to be careful because you know in qualifying that Mercedes will turn up the power, but to be ahead on a Friday is always positive. We will see tomorrow. To stay there will be really difficult but at least we have better pace than normal.”