Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton set the pace in the first practice session at Baku City Circuit, beating teammate Nico Rosberg to take the top spot in the timesheets.
On a set of supersoft tyres, Hamilton clocked the circuit in 1:46.435, four tenths clear of Rosberg, who was the only other driver to break the 1:47 barrier.
Valtteri Bottas, who finished on the podium in Montreal, was third quickest, with Fernando Alonso impressing by setting the fourth fastest time in the McLaren-Honda.
Sebastian Vettel improved to fifth with a late attempt, setting a time of 1:48.627 on the yellow-striped soft tyre.
Sergio Perez finished as the leading Force India in sixth, ahead of McLaren’s Jenson Button and the Williams Felipe Massa.
Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz and Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg completed the top 10.
The session was red-flagged for a prolonged period of time when Ricciardo pounded the wall at turn 15, severely damaging the rear-end of his Red Bull.
Several other drivers had their own off-track excursions but all escaped without any damage.
Max Verstappen’s session came to an early halt with the Dutchman forced to pit due to smoke coming out of his car. He finished 16th with the best time of 1:50.485.
Finding the right setup will prove crucial this weekend due to the varied nature of the track. Although the last sector stresses the need of a low-downforce car, there are plenty of corners which require more wing.
by Rachit Thukral