Even though Sebastian Vettel claimed on Thursday that Mercedes are the clear favourites for this Russian Grand Prix weekend, it was the German himself, accompanied by team mate Kimi Räikkönen who edged ahead, and clearly so.
The Mercedes works drivers finished third and fourth, but neither could keep their disandvantage to Ferrari to below half a second. Mercedes appeared to be closer, and perhaps had a bit of an edge on the soft tyres, but when the ultra softs were brought out of the boxes, Ferrari were simply in a class of their own.
The trick however seemed to be in getting the tyres to work to their best, with the Pirelli's being fastest after 2 or three laps. Both Ferrari drivers seemed much better at getting it right. Bottas didn't get close while Hamilton was denied his third lap on the ultra softs due to locking up badly to avoid a collision with Pascal Wehrlein's Sauber in Turn 13.
Fifth fastest Max Verstappen was even further back, 1.4 seconds down on the pace setter. His team mate at Red Bull Racing had to live with an extra 3 tenths deficit.
After the short runs, the gap between the top six appeared to be similar again, boding well for Ferrari for the remainder of the weekend.
Meanwhile there was trouble again for McLaren as Stoffel Vandoorne's car was fitted with a 5th new turbo and ERS-H, totalling for a 15-place grid drop for Sunday's race. That almost certainly puts him at the back of the grid.
Max Verstappen lost power as well, 20 minutes from the end of the session, due to a fuel pressure problem.
|5||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer||1:35.540||+1.420s||15|
|6||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer||1:35.910||+1.790s||26|
|7||19||Felipe Massa||Williams Mercedes||1:36.261||+2.141s||39|
|9||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:36.506||+2.386s||31|
|10||11||Sergio Perez||Force India Mercedes||1:36.600||+2.480s||38|
|11||31||Esteban Ocon||Force India Mercedes||1:36.654||+2.534s||39|
|12||14||Fernando Alonso||McLaren Honda||1:36.765||+2.645s||27|
|14||8||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||1:37.039||+2.919s||31|
|15||55||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso||1:37.083||+2.963s||36|
|16||2||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren Honda||1:37.125||+3.005s||25|
|17||26||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1:37.300||+3.180s||35|
|18||94||Pascal Wehrlein||Sauber Ferrari||1:37.441||+3.321s||30|
|19||18||Lance Stroll||Williams Mercedes||1:37.747||+3.627s||36|
|20||9||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber Ferrari||1:37.819||+3.699s||29|