F1 Azerbaijan GP: Bottas thrilled with Mercedes wing, nose and floor updates

F1 Azerbaijan GP: Bottas thrilled with Mercedes wing, nose and floor updates

F1 Azerbaijan GP: Bottas thrilled with Mercedes wing, nose and floor updates

Mercedes has had to replace the gearbox with which Hamilton finished the Baku race a fortnight ago.

Three-time world champion Hamilton recorded his best lap at one minute, 05.975 seconds at the Red Bull Ring circuit - 0.190 seconds faster than 19-year-old Dutch Max Verstappen (Red Bull), reports Efe.

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas, meanwhile, was third best in both sessions- despite going off track three times.

"We had to swap out a spark plug during FP2 (the second session), but the guys did a great job to turn the vehicle around and we still managed to complete our programme", Hamilton said.

"This vehicle is so quick in comparison to what we raced here previous year".

"This track punishes you if you make a mistake, and I tested those limits", added Bottas. "It was good to see we made progress with the car's aerodynamics, as any steps are welcome".

Rarely are the fortunes of the fourth and fifth-placed drivers in a race so tightly scrutinised but, then again, it is also just as uncommon to see a driver deliberately spear his vehicle into an opponent as Vettel did to Hamilton in Baku.

Further down the field, there was encouragement for McLaren drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne as fresh Honda power units helped them run in the top 10 across the sessions.

The ninth race on the calendar is unlikely to create as many headlines as its predecessor, unless Vettel decides he quite fancies a one-race holiday.

Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen both recovered from early spins to finish P4 and P6 respectively, with four tenths separating the two Ferrari drivers on the supersofts.

Both said the matter is closed.

Thanks to escaping without serious sanction in Baku, where Hamilton was deprived of a near-certain race victory because his head-rest worked loose, Vettel holds a 14-point lead over the Briton, whose silence this week has spoken volumes. "The longer it goes the more intense it gets".

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