Hamilton heads Mercedes practice 1-2 in Russia
Lewis Hamilton went quickest on the opening day of practice in Sochi ahead of this weekend’s Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver headed a 1-2 for the Anglo-German squad with Valtteri Bottas two tenths off his team-leader in the day’s second session.
It was an uneventful 90 minutes, a spin from Sebastian Vettel the only untoward moment as the German ended fifth fastest.
Trailing the two Mercedes were Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, the lead Red Bull more than four tenths behind Hamilton, with the two Ferraris of Vettel in fifth over Kimi Raikkonen sixth.
At the other end of the timing screens it was also a Noah’s Ark formation, with both Williams propping up the time sheets with McLaren only marginally better in a field spread by more than 3.5 seconds.
Earlier, Ricciardo’s session was curtailed after his car belched smoke, the Australian banking just 11 laps in the session, the fewest of any driver.
Vettel had been fastest in the morning’s session, narrowly beating Verstappen just just 0.050s.
Those times proved more than a second slower than were managed later in the day, before teams switched focus to long run performance late in Practice 2.
The opening session had been similarly uneventful with only spins from Norris and Lance Stroll livening up proceedings.
Four teams sported their test or reserve drivers in Practice 1, with Antonio Giovinazzi in at Sauber, Lando Norris at McLaren, Artem Markelov at Renault, and Nicholas Latifi for Williams.
What the sessions did provide however was evidence that the hypersoft Pirelli tyre will likely be the choice come qualifying, with a one-stop race the most probable strategic choice.
However, with a large performance delta between it and the soft compound rubber, which seems the preferred race tyre, those in the midfield may opt to gamble on Saturday afternoon with five drivers set to be sent to the rear of the grid come the race.
Both Toro Rosso and Red Bulls will be demoted, as will Fernando Alonso, for taking on new engine components.
It could see drivers inside the top 10 come Sunday’s race starting on the preferred race rubber, while those around them will need to cede track position early to switch their tyres.
Practice continues on Saturday with the third session scheduled to begin at 1900 AEST ahead of qualifying at 2200.
Result: Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix, Practice 2
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1:33.827||+0.442|
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:33.844||+0.459|
|7||Sergio Perez||Force India Mercedes||1:35.122||+1.737|
|8||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso Honda||1:35.137||+1.752|
|9||Esteban Ocon||Force India Mercedes||1:35.147||+1.762|
|10||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber Ferrari||1:35.295||+1.910|
|11||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:35.331||+1.946|
|13||Charles Leclerc||Sauber Ferrari||1:35.432||+2.047|
|15||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||1:35.911||+2.526|
|16||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso Honda||1:36.024||+2.639|
|17||Fernando Alonso||McLaren Renault||1:36.074||+2.689|
|18||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren Renault||1:36.617||+3.232|
|19||Sergey Sirotkin||Williams Mercedes||1:36.861||+3.476|
|20||Lance Stroll||Williams Mercedes||1:37.001||+3.616|
Result: Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix, Practice 1
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Renault||1:34.538||+0.050|
|5||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Renault||1:35.524||+1.036|
|6||Esteban Ocon||Force India Mercedes||1:35.663||+1.175|
|8||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:36.196||+1.708|
|10||Antonio Giovinazzi||Sauber Ferrari||1:36.712||+2.224|
|11||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||1:36.816||+2.328|
|12||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso Honda||1:36.944||+2.456|
|13||Lando Norris||McLaren Renault||1:37.022||+2.534|
|14||Charles Leclerc||Sauber Ferrari||1:37.054||+2.566|
|16||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren Renault||1:37.187||+2.699|
|17||Nicholas Latifi||Force India Mercedes||1:37.206||+2.718|
|18||Sergey Sirotkin||Williams Mercedes||1:37.225||+2.737|
|19||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso Honda||1:37.944||+3.456|
|20||Lance Stroll||Williams Mercedes||1:39.137||+4.649|