None of Verstappen's rivals had even surpassed his morning time by that point, although Ricciardo soon improved to 0.220s away and reinstated the Red Bull one-two out front.
"It was very weird", Verstappen told Sky Sports. Then suddenly I lost the rear and I had like a four-wheel power slide into the barrier.
Sahara Force India had a busy day of practice on the Baku Street Circuit, ending the day with both cars inside the top 10.
Daniil Kvyat was the lead Toro Rosso in eighth, splitting the two Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, despite having triggered a brief virtual safety auto in the first half of the session, as he put debris on track from barrier contact at the sharp right-handed Turn 15.
Meanwhile, fourth-fastest Sergio Perez caused a pause in proceedings late on as he hit the wall with his Force India.
The crash was the second of the session, following a shunt for Jolyon Palmer.
Ricciardo's teammate, Dutchman Verstappen, has also been linked with Ferrari, particularly after a spate of frustrated comments in recent weeks.
"I think the preparation we did at the factory and in the simulator has allowed us to come here with a strong setup and competitive auto from the go". "We tried a couple of things and now we see the short run was not ideal, we didn't put everything together but tomorrow is another day".
However, that all changed on the next lap, Hamilton overcoming his problems to go clear by a whopping seven-tenths, nearly a second faster than his time sheet topping FP1 time previous year.
Practice times are not necessarily an indication of a team's strength as cars may have different fuel loads and tyres as the teams prepare their set-ups for Saturday's qualifying and Sunday's race.
He looked uncomfortable on Friday, had a near miss with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen on Turn One and finished the second practice in tenth, 1.163 behind Verstappen. When you can do consistent laps without any mistakes, you can get the tyres to work as well. It was a bit of a messy day, not just with what happened in FP1 but also because of all the yellow and red flags breaking the flow of the sessions.
And there were yet more problems for McLaren-Honda as Fernando Alonso ground to a halt after another engine failure saw smoke pouring out of the back of his MCL32.