Valtteri Bottas emerged fastest in Friday Practice for 2021 Russian Grand Prix at Sochi Autodrom, after dominating both practice sessions.
Bottas comfortably topped both sessions from Mercedes teammate, Lewis Hamilton as he enjoyed a strong return to the track where he last took a victory in Formula One.
AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly was a surprise third quickest as Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc focused on preparations for back of grid starts on Sunday, having both opted to take grid penalties following power unit changes this weekend.
Now here is a full roundup of both Friday Practice sessions as teams maximised the dry running, as a result of torrential rainfall forecast for Saturday (25 September).
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was first out of the pitlane ahead of several drivers but Charles Leclerc set the initial pace in the opening ten minutes on the softs with 1m 36.708 to go top from Hamilton and Bottas as the majority of the field set flying laps early on.
Max Verstappen however decided to linger in the pits for the opening 16 minutes as the track rubbered in, with the championship leader going fourth on his first flier on the soft tyre behind Hamilton and Bottas who had gone top three minutes earlier on 1m 36.412 on the hard compound.
Attention soon quickly switched to a soft tyre qualifying simulation as teams tried to fit their Practice programme into today, due to the high risk of FP3 tomorrow (25 September) being wet, as Bottas set a session topping 1m 34.427 in the 27th minute with everyone setting their quickest laps on soft tyres.
Hamilton settled for second as he finished 0.211 seconds behind his teammate and 0.016s ahead of Verstappen as Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel rounded out the top five, with the last half hour devoted largely to race simulations for majority of drivers.
Post-session, Lando Norris made contact with the inside barriers as he made his way into the pit-lane after his rear tyres spun him around sideways, although the Brit escaped with minor damage to his front wing.
|1||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||1m 34.427|
|2||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+ 0.211|
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+ 0.227|
|4||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+ 0.690|
|5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||+ 1.354|
|6||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||+ 1.367|
|7||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||+ 1.384|
|8||Lando Norris||McLaren||+ 1.532|
|9||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||+ 1.761|
|10||Fernando Alonso||Alpine||+ 1.798|
|11||Esteban Ocon||Alpine||+ 1.809|
|12||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||+ 2.095|
|13||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+ 2.368|
|14||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren||+ 2.450|
|15||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+ 2.525|
|16||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||+ 3.367|
|17||George Russell||Williams||+ 3.586|
|18||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||+ 3.728|
|19||Nikita Mazepin||Haas||+ 4.159|
|20||Mick Schumacher||Haas||+ 4.550|
Leclerc set the initial pace on soft tyres ahead of Bottas and Hamilton as Verstappen could only manage fifth on his first flier, having opted to take a fourth power unit during the gap between FP1 and FP2 which means that he will start Sunday’s race at the back of the grid.
Bottas went quickest in the ninth minute on mediums with 1m 35.298 but Leclerc lowered the benchmark to 1m 34.925 just seconds later, before Fernando Alonso delivered a surprise 1m 34.762 on his soft-tyre qualifying simulation to go fastest in the 16th minute.
Everyone else soon followed suit with Bottas ultimately emerging fastest with 1m 33.593 just 0.044s quicker than Hamilton as Pierre Gasly, Norris and Esteban Ocon rounded out the top five upon completion of the soft-tyre qualifying simulation laps.
Race simulations were disrupted with 24 minutes left after Antonio Giovinazzi spun at Turn Eight and smashed the rear-end of his Alfa Romeo into the barriers, just seven minutes after Leclerc had spun at that same corner but narrowly avoided the barriers.
Once the session resumed nine minutes later without any further disruptions, race simulations proceeded smoothly, despite Verstappen complaining about “impossible” overtaking opportunity whilst Gasly’s front wing snapped off as he rode the kerb on exit of Turn Two just moments before checkered flag.
|1||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||1m 33.593|
|2||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+ 0.044|
|3||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||+ 0.252|
|4||Lando Norris||McLaren||+ 0.561|
|5||Esteban Ocon||Alpine||+ 0.809|
|6||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+ 1.028|
|7||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||+ 1.085|
|8||Fernando Alonso||Alpine||+ 1.169|
|9||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||+ 1.244|
|10||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+ 1.332|
|11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||+ 1.345|
|12||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+ 1.459|
|13||George Russell||Williams||+ 1.501|
|14||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+ 1.585|
|15||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||+ 1.741|
|16||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||+ 1.818|
|17||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren||+ 2.037|
|18||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||+ 2.361|
|19||Nikita Mazepin||Haas||+ 2.506|
|20||Mick Schumacher||Haas||+ 2.637|