Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen has set the early pace for the Russian Formula 1 Grand Prix, edging out his Finnish compatriot Valtteri Bottas in the opening Friday practice session at the Sochi Autodrom.

The duo – who both faced an uncomfortable barrage of questions from the media on Thursday over whether they would be forced into number-two roles at their respective teams – lapped significantly quicker than their respective teammates in the final reckoning.

With he and teammate Sebastian Vettel running a new turbo, Räikkönen posted a 1:36.074 on Super Soft tyres around the 5.848-kilometre circuit in the 90-minute session, edging out Bottas’ Mercedes by just 0.045 seconds.

A full six-tenths of a second slower was Bottas’ teammate Lewis Hamilton, whose fastest lap proved rather untidy and which suggested that the margin to the session’s pace-setters was rather exaggerated.

Fourth-fastest was Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and championship leader Vettel; the Ferrari driver suffered a late spin at Turn 16 after losing control of his car.

Daniel Ricciardo was sixth-quickest in the second Red Bull Racing RB13, lapping just one-tenth of a seocnd slower than Verstappen. He was followed by the Mercedes-powered trio of Force India’s Sergio Pérez and the Williams duo of Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll.

Pérez’s teammate Esteban Ocon was tenth-fastest, although the Frenchman triggered a brief red flag during the session when part of his car’s engine cover broke off and landed on the track at Turn 2.

Local crowd favourite Daniil Kvyat was eleventh quickest in his Toro Rosso at his home Grand Prix. The Russian finished ahead of Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, who emitted plenty of brake dust following the team’s much-anticipated switch of supplier from Brembo to Carbon Industrie.

Thirteenth-quickest was Fernando Alonso in the unfancied McLaren Honda; worryingly his teammate Stoffel Vandoorne reported a loss of power in the sister MCL32 late in the session. The Belgian finished seven-tenths of a second slower than the two-time World Champion, ending the session 17th-fastest.

The pair sandwiched Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz – who was thwarted by traffic on his final run – Renault’s Jolyon Palmer and the second Haas Ferrari of Romain Grosjean.

The two Saubers of Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson were slowest of all and almost four seconds off Räikkönen’s pace.

Languishing at the bottom of the timesheets was Renault’s local reserve driver Sergey Sirotkin – driving in place of Nico Hülkenberg in the session – who failed to post a time after his car struck engine trouble.

Friday’s second practice session at Sochi will begin at 15:00 local time (GMT +3).

Driver Team / Entry Time Tyre Laps
1. Kimi Räikkönen fi Scuderia Ferrari SF70H 1:36.074 Pirelli Super Soft 19
2. Valtteri Bottas fi Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08 1:36.119 Pirelli Super Soft 24
3. Lewis Hamilton uk Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08 1:36.681 Pirelli Super Soft 23
4. Max Verstappen nl Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13 1:37.174 Pirelli Super Soft 19
5. Sebastian Vettel de Scuderia Ferrari SF70H 1:37.230 Pirelli Super Soft 19
6. Daniel Ricciardo au Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13 1:37.290 Pirelli Super Soft 19
7. Sergio Pérez Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10 1:37.457 Pirelli Super Soft 29
8. Felipe Massa br Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40 1:37.900 Pirelli Super Soft 29
9. Lance Stroll ca Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40 1:37.944 Pirelli Super Soft 30
10. Esteban Ocon fr Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10 1:38.065 Pirelli Super Soft 28
11. Daniil Kvyat ru Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12 1:38.496 Pirelli Super Soft 17
12. Kevin Magnussen dk Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17 1:38.747 Pirelli Super Soft 23
13. Fernando Alonso es McLaren-Honda MP4-31 1:38.813 Pirelli Super Soft 16
14. Carlos Sainz Jr es Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12 1:38.976 Pirelli Super Soft 17
15. Jolyon Palmer Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 1:39.158 Pirelli Super Soft 16
16. Romain Grosjean fr Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17 1:39.533 Pirelli Super Soft 17
17. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Honda MP4-31 1:39.541 Pirelli Super Soft 19
18. Pascal Wehrlein de Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36 1:39.731 Pirelli Super Soft 21
19. Marcus Ericsson se Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36 1:40.079 Pirelli Super Soft 20
20. Sergey Sirotkin ru Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 no time Pirelli Super Soft 2

Image via Scuderia Ferrari

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.