While nearly every driver could recall a moment they had to take to the run-off area, Romain Grosjean was the main culprit as he complained of brake problems that saw the Haas driver take to the escape road time and again.
Vettel had another off, this time at Turn 8, where he was joined by Massa.
A Red Bull fastest? He was soon deposed by Hamilton's Mercedes, but the real story was the pace of the Red Bulls on the white walled medium tyre, the only cars to be running the hardest rubber available this weekend.
Pirelli has nominated the supersoft, soft and medium tyres for this race, like past year. Lewis Hamilton was looking fighty, but couldn't put a lap together on the congested street circuit.
Alonso then stood and wistfully watched from behind the protective barriers, hands on hips, which was seemingly a better option than going back to a despondent team garage.
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In the opening practice session, Bottas narrowly missed the barriers while Perez mangled both wheels on the right of his auto on Turn 8. The Mexican had just gone third on 1m 45.398 on supersofts when he went over the kerb on the left-hand side, and slammed the right-hand wheels of his Force India into the outer wall.
We saw our first crash of the weekend during the first practice session when Perez clipped the kerb and couldn't get the vehicle back under control at the narrow Castle Chicane.
Lance Stroll ended the session 11th, ahead of the two Haas cars of Kevin Magnussen and Grosjean. He went quickest initially, but was soon deposed once Verstappen led the frontrunners back out onto the circuit. "You can see in the long runs, so it's important to be in the front in qualifying", he told Sky F1.
"I think the trickiest part was actually making [the tyres] work, to get them hot enough, but if you achieve that, then everything else becomes a lot easier".
Raikkonen was only 0.127secs off the pace in fourth and 0.126secs quicker than Vettel. Bottas looked to be improving, and went P2 after his initial struggles, but the session was about to be suspended again.
Free Practice 2 for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix turned into a disjointed affair with plenty of incidents with drivers sliding off the track, a red flag when Jolyon Palmer hit the wall, and interrupted fast laps. One more crash like that one could prove terminal to his career.
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The now-retired Nico Rosberg won previous year and joined on the podium by Sebastian Vettel and Sergio Perez after his then teammate, Lewis Hamilton, started the race from tenth, before finishing in fourth.
"Everything else was working really good", he said.
But the weekend got off to a bad start when Alonso broke down with an engine failure in the middle of second practice, pulling off after Turn 15 with smoke coming from the back of the vehicle. It was handling really well, and I was confident with the setup.
But Verstappen went into the barriers at the first corner in the dying minutes of practice, attempting to make the run-off area but losing control of his RB13. Verstappen then went side on into the Turn 1 barriers within sight of the chequered flag, sustaining rear-end damage to his vehicle. "I hope it's close tomorrow and hope we come out on top".
What did you make of today's practice sessions?
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