Following a dramatic Tuscan Grand Prix nearly a fortnight ago, Formula One has headed over 2000 miles east to Sochi Autodrom as teams participated in Friday Practice for the 2020 Russian Grand Prix.
Mercedes enter this weekend unbeaten in six previous Russian Grands Prix which have taken place on the F1 calendar since 2014 and Valtteri Bottas dominated Friday Practice from teammate, Lewis Hamilton as the Silver Arrows look set for another dominant weekend.
A quiet start saw Hamilton set the initial quickest time of 1m 37.716 on hard tyres as Mercedes split their harder compound running, with Bottas running a medium tyre programme which saw him go 0.303 seconds quicker than his British teammate.
Bottas’ time wouldn’t then be bettered until Daniil Kvyat posted a 1m 37.124 from which times then began to tumble in a frantic five minute spell, culminating in Bottas posting a session topping 1m 34.923 just 32 minutes into the session.
Sainz soon brought the session into its traditional lull after spinning into the barriers at Turn Seven, triggering a Virtual Safety Car as his rear wing slowly disseminated across the track, curtailing his session after just eight laps.
Williams’ Nicholas Latifi however would bring the session to a complete halt for eight minutes after losing his rear end on entry to Turn 10 and sliding into the barriers, with a heavy impact which triggered the medical car although Latifi walked away unharmed.
Once the session resumed, several drivers opted for early race simulations whilst some focused on one lap pace as Daniel Ricciardo improved his Renault to second ahead of Max Verstappen and the two Racing Point cars of Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll.
Hamilton meanwhile failed to improve on his opening time of the session as he found himself in 19th position after locking up on his soft tyre lap before completely destroying a set of hard tyres.
A much livelier start to FP2 saw Bottas immediately set the pace with a 1m 36.085 on the hard compound as he and Hamilton switched initial programmes with the Brit going top by 1.195s with a 1m 34.890 on mediums.
Several drivers however began to struggle with increased winds as Stroll found out with a spin at Turn 13 as he turned into the corner.
Mercedes soon switched to their qualifying simulation shortly afterwards with Hamilton posting a 1m 33.786 to go 0.097s quicker than Bottas’ first effort, although he ran deep at Turn 13 and narrowly avoided the barriers on his second flier despite being up on his fastest time.
Bottas meanwhile avoided any mistake on his second lap and consequently posted a session topping 1m 33.519 which was 0.267s quicker than Hamilton’s first effort, with Ricciardo rounding out the top three despite finishing 1.058s slower than Bottas.
McLaren’s Lando Norris left his qualifying simulation late as the track began to ramp up in grip and times tumbled and managed to pop up to fourth ahead of Sergio Perez, although Sainz would bounce back from his FP1 incident with a stunning 1m 34.723 in the 48th minute to take fourth from his teammate.
Max Verstappen finished seventh quickest despite spinning at Turn 14 on his second quali simulation flier
Everyone managed to successfully complete their race simulations without any major interruptions, despite Bottas briefly pitting due to a steering issue which was causing stickiness as he turned through corners.
|1||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||1m 34.923|
|2||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||+ 0.507|
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+ 0.654|
|4||Sergio Perez||Racing Point||+ 0.873|
|5||Lance Stroll||Racing Point||+ 1.042|
|6||Esteban Ocon||Renault||+ 1.138|
|7||Daniil Kvyat||Alpha Tauri||+ 1.307|
|8||Alex Albon||Red Bull||+ 1.331|
|9||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||+ 1.400|
|10||Pierre Gasly||Alpha Tauri||+ 1.783|
|11||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+ 1.973|
|12||Carlos Sainz||McLaren||+ 2.047|
|13||Lando Norris||McLaren||+ 2.187|
|14||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+ 2.278|
|15||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+ 2.307|
|16||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||+ 2.507|
|17||George Russell||Williams||+ 2.672|
|18||Romain Grosjean||Haas||+ 2.726|
|19||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+ 2.793|
|20||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||+ 2.861|
|1||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||1m 33.519|
|2||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+ 0.267|
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||+ 1.058|
|4||Carlos Sainz||McLaren||+ 1.204|
|5||Lando Norris||McLaren||+ 1.328|
|6||Sergio Perez||Racing Point||+ 1.371|
|7||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+ 1.529|
|8||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+ 1.533|
|9||Esteban Ocon||Renault||+ 1.620|
|10||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||+ 1.664|
|11||Pierre Gasly||Alpha Tauri||+ 1.691|
|12||Alex Albon||Red Bull||+ 1.723|
|13||Daniil Kvyat||Alpha Tauri||+ 1.942|
|14||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+ 1.997|
|15||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||+ 2.044|
|16||George Russell||Williams||+ 2.056|
|17||Lance Stroll||Racing Point||+ 2.108|
|18||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||+ 2.210|
|19||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+ 2.534|
|20||Romain Grosjean||Haas||+ 3.339|