Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session for the Russian Formula 1 Grand Prix looks set to be a battle between the Mercedes drivers if the final practice session at the Sochi Autodrom serves as any kind of useful form guide.

Once again the two Silver Arrows of championship leader Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas led the way, as they had done in Friday afternoon’s second practice session, while the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen trailed in a distant third- and fourth-fastest respectively. The two red cars were over six-tenths of a second slower than the rapid time of 1:33.067 that Hamilton posted on his qualifying-style run.

While both Red Bull Racing entries of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo will start from the back of the grid due to engine change penalties, the Milton Keynes squad showed the strong pace of its RB14 chassis with the fifth- and sixth-fastest times.

After an untidy pair of practice sessions on Friday, Charles Leclerc looked much more settled in his Sauber and led the ‘best of the rest’ midfield charge with the seventh-quickest time. The Ferrari-bound Monégasque driver lapped quicker than the Force Indias of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Pérez who were split by the Haas of Kevin Magnussen. The Dane’s teammate Romain Grosjean finished thirteenth-fastest after a spin.

After showing encouraging pace in Friday’s two practice sessions thanks to running upgraded Honda power units, Toro Rosso reverted to earlier-spec motors to preserve the new units for Honda’s home race in Japan next weekend. Pierre Gasly therefore slipped to twelfth on the timesheets, while Brendon Hartley was sixteenth in the sister STR13.


FORMULA 1 2018 VTB RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX – FREE PRACTICE SESSION 3 TIMES
Driver Team / Entry Time Gap Laps
1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09 1:33.067 13
2. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09 1:33.321 + 0.254 16
3. Sebastian Vettel Scuderia Ferrari SF71H 1:33.667 + 0.600 14
4. Kimi Räikkönen Scuderia Ferrari SF71H 1:33.688 + 0.621 11
5. Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer RB14 1:33.937 + 0.870 11
6. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer RB14 1:34.394 + 1.327 14
7. Charles Leclerc Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37 1:34.628 + 1.561 15
8. Esteban Ocon Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11 1:34.809 + 1.742 16
9. Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18 1:34.820 + 1.753 15
10. Sergio Pérez Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11 1:34.916 + 1.849 14
11. Carlos Sainz Jr Renault Sport F1 Team RS18 1:34.988 + 1.921 13
12. Pierre Gasly Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13 1:35.125 + 2.058 21
13. Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18 1:35.185 + 2.118 18
14. Nico Hülkenberg Renault Sport F1 Team RS18 1:35.213 + 2.146 12
15. Marcus Ericsson Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37 1:35.370 + 2.303 16
16. Brendon Hartley Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13 1:36.033 + 2.966 22
17. Sergey Sirotkin Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41 1:36.071 + 3.004 16
18. Lance Stroll Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41 1:36.274 + 3.207 20
19. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33 1:36.597 + 3.530 14
20. Fernando Alonso McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33 1:36.992 + 3.925 21

Image via Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team

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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.
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