A Ferrari has taken the fastest lap of every practice session for the Russian Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel made it a hat-trick for Ferrari by setting the fastest lap recorded around the old Winter Olympic Park. A 1:34.001 was the fastest lap set by the German on the ultra-soft tyres.
The session finished with a Ferrari one-two as Kimi Raikkonen put in a lap time 0.337 seconds slower than his teammate. Behind Ferrari, Mercedes provided a challenge and set the top four just under a second ahead of the rest of the field. Valtteri Bottas took third ahead of Lewis Hamilton when the chequered flag fell.
Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes did not complete any super soft runs in the 60-minute session, primarily focusing on qualifying simulations. By only using the ultra-soft tyres in the session, the three teams began the session with a big advantage on the rest of the field. Lance Stroll also ran nothing but the ultra softs this morning as Williams gave him the longest time to get used to the new track and have as much real preparation as possible. Teammate Felipe Massa
Lance Stroll also ran nothing but the ultra softs this morning as Williams gave him the longest time to get used to the new track and have as much real preparation as possible. Teammate Felipe Massa was left to conducting the early race simulations and runs on the super-soft tyre before he put on the ultras to perform his own qualifying simulations.
Mercedes and Ferrari swapped fastest laps over the hour session, both using different strategies of which lap should be seen as their flying lap, so trying to decide how many ‘warm up’ laps should be set before the flying lap was pushed on. This factor could be the difference between who puts their car on pole position.
Quickest of the rest was Max Verstappen, putting his Red Bull in fifth with a 1.451-second deficit to Vettel. The midfield looks to be very close this weekend and Williams could be a threat to Red Bull for this race event. Massa finished in sixth, just a few thousandths of a second off of Verstappen’s time.
Daniel Ricciardo put the second Red Bull seventh. The Australian had a brief scare out on track when his Red Bull’s engine completely cut off but, through using the MGU he was able to get the car moving gain and back to this pits. It did prevent Ricciardo from setting an improved lap time on the ultra soft tyres so there could be some more performance from Ricciardo later on in qualifying.
Nico Hulkenberg, Carlos Sainz Jr and Kevin Magnussen rounded off the top ten.
It was a frustrating day for Romain Grosjean and Daniil Kvyat who were both very vocal on their team radios complaining about their cars. Grosjean was not happy with the set-up of the car and his laps showed that as they were very messy, appearing to reveal he was struggling to find grip out on track. He stated he had “no idea what to do” as he demanded the team check the car over.
After the team broke curfew last night to change the chassis on Jolyon Palmer’s car, the day was not a good one for the Brit. He was unable to set any more than two installation laps before the car lost power. Palmer will have a tough qualifying and pick up a grid drop as Renault were forced to change Palmer’s engine for the rest of the weekend.