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Hamilton dominated practice in Baku previous year ahead of Azerbaijan's first grand prix, but struggled on Friday and finished the second session in 10th place, 1.163 seconds behind pace-setter Max Verstappen.

It seemed a fitting way to end the day, considering the Baku street circuit had been like an ice rink, with drivers sliding around as they constantly struggled for grip and balance.

Bottas joined the team ahead of the 2017 campaign on a one-year contract, and does not now have a deal in place for next year.

"That is not something I am thinking about at the moment - rather the contrary, as I am getting my head around how to beat them", Hamilton told reporters in Baku when asked if he would consider driving for Ferrari at some stage during his illustrious career.

If you were a spectator it was exciting and you'd probably feel you'd got a good bang for your buck, possibly it was even slightly comical. "Coming out of the last corner I was just "thinking please be enough". They are having a struggle right now, and it does not look like it will change any time soon. "But if you achieve that, then everything else becomes a lot easier".

After some practice on Friday, Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen proved the fastest. "Every day I work hard to make the most out of every single situation I'm in".

'We're very respectful when the other is successful and he's probably the first real team-mate I've ever had.

He improved from sixth to fourth but could not match team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, who will start third on Sunday, and finished more than a second adrift of Hamilton.

Referring to this year's "new era" vehicle, Wolff admitted it had posed challenges for the team and the drivers with its contrary and temperamental nature: happy and triumphant one week, sulky and unresponsive the next. "I think a lot of it is contributed by these tires being a lot worse in the sense that (they are) bigger, heavier, stiffer, harder and just don't work a lot of the time".

"The rear was coming round and I tried to drive out of it but it kept going".

"I'm sure everyone would take the ultrasoft if you could choose but those are the tyres for everyone". Already due to start tomorrow's race from the back of the grid following a series of engine penalties, he launched his headrest out of his McLaren as he ground to a halt.

Lance Stroll ended the session 11th, ahead of the two Haas cars of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean.

A second practice is scheduled for later Friday, final practice and qualifying are Saturday, and the race - the eighth of the season - on Sunday.


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