Sebastian Vettel and teammate Kimi Räikkönen led a Ferrari 1-2 as Friday practice for the Russian Formula 1 Grand Prix drew to a close. The pair lapped around half-a-second faster than Mercedes rivals Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, although there is speculation that the Silver Arrows were sandbagging.
The Mercedes’ proved to be the pace-setters in Friday’s second practice session on the Super Soft Pirelli tyres, but it was the Ferraris which had the ascendancy when the field switched to the more aggressive Ultra Soft rubber.
Vettel posted a 1:34.120 on his fastest lap, just over a quarter of a second faster than Räikkönen – who set the pace in FP1 – while Bottas and Hamilton were roughly seven-tenths adrift.
Over a second-and-a-half off the leading pace was Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen who was fifth-fastest, with teammate Daniel Ricciardo a further four-tenths of a second down in sixth.
The gap to the leaders may prove worrying for the Milton Keynes squad, which seemed to be placed a clear ‘best of the rest’ in the field judging by the advantage it had on the stopwatch over the remaining runners in the field.
Additionally troubling was the sudden end brought to Verstappen’s running. The Dutch youngster’s car lost drive with 20 minutes to go in the session, and he was forced to park his car after being unable to limp back to the pits.
Williams’ Felipe Massa was seventh-fastest, a full two seconds down on Vettel, while Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg was eighth-quickest on his first outing of the weekend in the RS17.
The German stepped aside for the team’s local reserve driver Sergey Sirotkin in FP1, but the Russian was unable to complete any meaningful running when the car developed a power unit issue. Hülkenberg appeared to have no further problems in his running, clocking a hefty 38 laps in the session to make up for the team’s lost track time earlier in the day.
His former teammate Sergio Pérez was tenth-fastest in the Mercedes-powered Force India behind Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, while the sister VJM10 of Esteban Ocon one spot further behind.
Fernando Alonso was a surprise twelfth-fastest in the McLaren Honda. Teammate Stoffel Vandoorne missed the start of the session while his mechanics frantically completed the final stages of a complete power change that have earned the Belgian rookie a 15-place grid penalty.
The second Renault of Jolyon Palmer was thirteenth-quickest, half a second down on his teammate.
The other Haas of Romain Grosjean was a similar margin adrift of Magnussen. Despite the team’s switch to a new brake supplier, the Frenchman’s complaints about his car’s braking behaviour failed to stop.
The Toro Rosso duo of Carlos Sainz Jr and Daniil Kvyat sandwiched the aforementioned Vandoorne, while the Saubers of Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson did likewise to Williams rookie Lance Stroll, who was a lowly 19th-fastest. The Canadian teenager was the only driver not to post a lap time on the Ultra Soft tyres, which rather explained his relative position on the time sheets.
Saturday’s final practice session at Sochi will begin at 12:00 local time (GMT +3).
|2017 FORMULA 1 VTB RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX – FREE PRACTICE SESSION 2 RESULTS|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Tyre||Laps|
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF70H||1:34.120||36|
|2.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari SF70H||1:34.383||36|
|3.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08||1:34.790||36|
|4.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08||1:34.829||34|
|5.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13||1:35.540||15|
|6.||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13||1:35.910||26|
|7.||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40||1:36.261||39|
|8.||Nico Hulkenberg||Renault Sport F1 Team RS17||1:36.329||38|
|9.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17||1:36.506||31|
|10.||Sergio Pérez||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10||1:36.600||38|
|11.||Esteban Ocon||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10||1:36.654||39|
|12.||Fernando Alonso||McLaren-Honda MP4-31||1:36.765||27|
|13.||Jolyon Palmer||Renault Sport F1 Team RS17||1:36.771||22|
|14.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17||1:37.039||31|
|15.||Carlos Sainz Jr||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12||1:37.083||36|
|16.||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren-Honda MP4-31||1:37.125||25|
|17.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12||1:37.300||35|
|18.||Pascal Wehrlein||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36||1:37.441||30|
|19.||Lance Stroll||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40||1:37.747||36|
|20.||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36||1:37.819||29|
Image via Scuderia Ferrari