Mercedes have never been beaten in Sochi, winning every race since the first at the Winter Olympics venue in 2014. The Anglo-German team seemingly intends to continue this trend this weekend as it ended up fastest in the opening session for the Russian Grand Prix with Valtteri Bottas narrowly beating his team mate Lewis Hamilton.
The weather has been predicted to be changeable over the entire weekend with lots of rain showers expected. However, the opening practice took place in sunny conditions, giving the drivers and teams the opportunity to fine-tune their car on the track that usually favours cars with a good aerodynamic efficiency.
Mercedes dominated the session from the get-go with Bottas ending up as the faster driver. Championship leader Max Verstappen completed only a total of 13 laps and was over two tenths of a second shy of the benchmark set by the Finn driver. The Dutchman will serve a three-place grid penalty after the race stewards had found in Monza that he had been predominantly to blame in the incident with Hamilton.
Ferrari’s Charlec Leclerc was fourth fastest in Free Practice 1. The Monegasque is also facing a difficult weekend as he is set to start the race from the back end of the grid for taking his fourth power unit in the season. His team mate Carlos Sainz racked up 25 laps in total, setting the 7th best lap in the session.
Kimi Räikkönen returned to action after having been away from the sport in the last two races. The Finn finished in P15, two places behind his team mate Antonio Giovinazzi.
After taking a sensational one-two victory last time out in Monza, McLaren found it more difficult in Sochi with Lando Norris taking 8th, just ahead of Red Bull’s Mexican driver Sergio Perez. The Australian’s team mate, the Italian GP winner Daniel Ricciardo finished in P14.
Yuki Tsunoda took 16th for AlphaTauri ahead of the Williams duo of George Russell and Nicholas Latifi. Haas’ Russian racer Nikita Mazepin finished last in this session behind 19th-place Mick Schumacher.
|3||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:34.654||+0.227s||13|
|5||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:35.781||+1.354s||23|
|6||10||Pierre Gasly||Alphatauri Honda||1:35.794||+1.367s||24|
|8||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:35.959||+1.532s||24|
|9||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:36.188||+1.761s||22|
|10||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||1:36.225||+1.798s||21|
|11||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:36.236||+1.809s||25|
|12||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:36.522||+2.095s||21|
|13||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:36.795||+2.368s||23|
|14||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Mclaren Mercedes||1:36.877||+2.450s||23|
|15||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:36.952||+2.525s||20|
|16||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Honda||1:37.794||+3.367s||26|
|17||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||1:38.013||+3.586s||23|
|18||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:38.155||+3.728s||21|
|19||9||Nikita Mazepin||Haas Ferrari||1:38.586||+4.159s||22|
|20||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||1:38.977||+4.550s||23|