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).

Driver Team / Entry Time Tyre Laps
1. Sebastian Vettel de Scuderia Ferrari SF70H 1:34.120 Pirelli Ultra Soft 36
2. Kimi Räikkönen fi Scuderia Ferrari SF70H 1:34.383 Pirelli Ultra Soft 36
3. Valtteri Bottas fi Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08 1:34.790 Pirelli Ultra Soft 36
4. Lewis Hamilton uk Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08 1:34.829 Pirelli Ultra Soft 34
5. Max Verstappen nl Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13 1:35.540 Pirelli Ultra Soft 15
6. Daniel Ricciardo au Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13 1:35.910 Pirelli Ultra Soft 26
7. Felipe Massa br Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40 1:36.261 Pirelli Ultra Soft 39
8. Nico Hulkenberg de Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 1:36.329 Pirelli Ultra Soft 38
9. Kevin Magnussen dk Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17 1:36.506 Pirelli Ultra Soft 31
10. Sergio Pérez Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10 1:36.600 Pirelli Ultra Soft 38
11. Esteban Ocon fr Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10 1:36.654 Pirelli Ultra Soft 39
12. Fernando Alonso es McLaren-Honda MP4-31 1:36.765 Pirelli Ultra Soft 27
13. Jolyon Palmer Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 1:36.771 Pirelli Ultra Soft 22
14. Romain Grosjean fr Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17 1:37.039 Pirelli Ultra Soft 31
15. Carlos Sainz Jr es Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12 1:37.083 Pirelli Ultra Soft 36
16. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Honda MP4-31 1:37.125 Pirelli Ultra Soft 25
17. Daniil Kvyat ru Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12 1:37.300 Pirelli Ultra Soft 35
18. Pascal Wehrlein de Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36 1:37.441 Pirelli Ultra Soft 30
19. Lance Stroll ca Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40 1:37.747 Pirelli Super Soft 36
20. Marcus Ericsson se Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36 1:37.819 Pirelli Ultra Soft 29

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.