Charles Leclerc left Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel trailing with the fastest time in practice for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
After the opening running in Baku was cancelled, following George Russell’s 180mph impact with a loose drain cover, Leclerc finished 0.324 seconds ahead of Vettel, with Lewis Hamilton third.
Leclerc, in just his fourth appearance for Ferrari, has enjoyed an impressive start to his career with the Scuderia.
And here, he continued his fine form at the 3.7-mile high-speed course which winds through Baku’s streets.
Vettel, the four-time world champion, is under pressure to show he is worthy of his number one billing at Ferrari, but on the evidence of practice, might have his work cut out to match Leclerc this weekend.
Hamilton’s Mercedes team might have started the year with three consecutive one-two finishes, but the world champion was more than half a second down on Leclerc – Ferrari appearing to hold the advantage.
The unique Baku circuit has provided a number of thrills and spills in recent seasons, and Daniil Kvyat and Lance Stroll fell victim to the narrow street track – both hitting the barriers and crashing out.
Kvyat’s Toro Rosso temporarily caught alight as his front-left brake overheated. Marshals were belatedly on the scene before they extinguished the flames.
Max Verstappen finished fourth for Red Bull, nearly a second down on Leclerc, with Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas fifth.
British teenager Lando Norris finished 10th in his McLaren, 1.4 secs off the pace.
Earlier, the opening running was cancelled following Russell’s dramatic incident. The Williams driver ran over a dislodged drain cover and sustained significant damage to his car.
Russell, 21, immediately pulled over to the side of the road to examine his wrecked car. He was unharmed, but the session was hastily red-flagged.
A marshal attempted to stamp the drain cover down before the running was then abandoned. To add insult to injury, the recovery crane carrying Russell’s Williams back to the pits collided with a pedestrian bridge running over the circuit.
An investigation by the FIA discovered that a prong attaching the drain cover to the road had broken free.
Russell took no part in the second session following the extensive damage sustained to his car.