It wasn’t however all plain sailing for Verstappen, who crashed at Turn 1 in the dying embers of the session, damaging the left side of the car.
Just 0.027s separated Bottas in second, and Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari in fourth, with Daniel Ricciardo in the sister Red Bull sandwiched between them.
Following from his first practice crash at the Castle Section, Sergio Perez was seventh quickest, with Force India team-mate Esteban Ocon in ninth, with Toro Rosso’s Danill Kvyat splitting the two drivers.
Lewis Hamilton was 10th quickest, as the Mercedes driver couldn’t improve on an early lap.
Chaos in Baku
After Perez became the first driver to crash at Turn 8 in the morning session, Renault’s Jolyon Palmer did the same about halfway through the 90 minute session, right-front suspension damage putting pay to his hopes of continuing.
After a short delay to clean the track, running resumed, with drivers still struggling to kind grip on the sun-drenched asphalt.
As running got underway in second practice, the initial runs were completed using the yellow marked soft compound Pirelli tyres.
Verstappen headed an early Red Bull 1-2, consistently lowering his best effort from the 1:44’s to ending up with a 1:43.894s by the time Red Bull called him in.
Ricciardo was around two tenths slower than the sister RB13.
Soon after the soft tyres had been traded in for a set of super-softs, all drivers began to improve their times, with Raikkonen briefly flirting with the quickest time, before Vettel pipped him.
Verstappen then soon came across the line to take P1 with the 1:43.362s that would see him untoppled for the remainder of the session.
It was around now that Palmer crashed at Turn 8, ruining the super-soft runs for the rest of the field.
Alonso out early
Running comfortably, Fernando Alonso feared that his McLaren-Honda had suffered yet another engine failure, after smoke billowed out of the back of the back of the MCL32, although the team confirmed that it was actually a gearbox failure, so no penalty. Yet.
Alonso finished the session in a commendable 12th place, five places ahead of team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne.
|1.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1:43.362s|
|3.||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||+0.111s|
|7.||Sergio Perez||Force India||+0.944s|
|8.||Danill Kvyat||Toro Rosso||+0.959s|
|9.||Esteban Ocon||Force India||+1.122s|
|13.||Carlos Sainz Jr||Toro Rosso||+2.371s|