Renault Sport Formula One Team’s preparations for this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix got underway at the Baku City Circuit today.

Carlos Sainz finished the day with the eighth quickest time, 1:43.834, just two tenths ahead of team-mate Nico Hülkenberg. The field again looks highly competitive, with the top ten covered by just over a second.

Alan Permane, Sporting Director - Technical programme notes
• Over both sessions Nico and Carlos ran with the new medium downforce aero package, including a new rear wing.
• Nico and Carlos both ran Supersoft and Soft tyres in FP1. Both drivers experienced lock-ups on their last run due to the low grip surface, causing flat spots and ending the session early.
• In FP2, the pair conducted tyre evaluations and further set-up work over long and short runs. Nico had to change the plank on his floor midway through as his car was running too close to the ground.
• Both Nico and Carlos ran Supersoft and Ultrasoft tyres.

What we learned today:
The surface is low grip and the slower sections of the track are still exceptionally slippery.

Nico Hülkenberg, #27, R.S.18-02
Free practice 1: P13, 1:46.749, 11 laps
Free practice 2: P10, 1:44.091, 33 laps

Nico: “It was a pretty standard Friday for us. This morning I had a nasty front lock up that happened very suddenly and cost us a run and a half, but the afternoon was fine. Now it’s about chasing the balance and optimising the car. We are getting there with everything and will look to further improve overnight.”

Carlos Sainz, #55, R.S.18-01
Free practice 1: P20, 1:48.741, 11 laps
Free practice 2: P8, 1:43.834, 36 laps

Carlos: “This morning was a challenging session. We were trying to understand some new parts on a very green track and braking got tricky at times. But we understood everything quite quickly and completed our run plan in FP2 without issues and with better performance. There is still margin to improve so we’ll work hard to get there.”

Nick Chester, Chassis Technical Director: “This morning we got into our normal programme with some aero work, trying to get the drivers settled in with the new low-medium downforce package we are running here for the first time. We didn’t get as much done as we wanted as both drivers flat spotted the tyres; the track here is so low grip at the start of the weekend and we saw lots of other drivers doing the same thing. They missed out on a few laps, but the second session was pretty good. We got everything done and the short runs were decent. The long runs looked encouraging, particularly for Nico. We will pull everything apart tonight with all the tyre info and look forward to tomorrow.”