Charles Leclerc reclaimed his standing as the fastest man at the Sochi Autodrom, topping the Russian Grand Prix’s final practice session by three-tenths of a second from Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel.

With Leclerc looking likely to claim his fourth consecutive pole position Mercedes struggled to put up a fight, with Lewis Hamilton initially doubtful over the team radio that closing a gap of 1.1 seconds to Leclerc was possible.

Hamilton managed to close the gap to 0.3 seconds by the end of the session, going faster than his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas for the first time this weekend.

After being the fastest in the second practice session, Max Verstappen fought to find pace on his medium Pirelli tyres which Red Bull Racing decided to use for most of the session. A change to softs saw the Dutchman fly over the kerbs coming out of Turn 2, then spin his RB15 at Turn 13, luckily only lighting touching the barriers and avoiding any major damage.

Verstappen tamed his RB15 to finish fifth behind Bottas, although 1.5 seconds off the pace.

Romain Grosjean spilt the Red Bulls and took sixth for the Haas F1 Team ahead of Alexander Albon who, like teammate Verstappen, will drop five grid places thanks to Honda power unit changes.

McLaren’s Lando Norris claimed ninth behind Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg with Kevin Magnussen rounding out the top ten in the second Haas.

Home fans will be disappointed with Daniil Kvyat suffering his second engine issue of the weekend, seeing his Torro Rosso pulling over 21 minutes into the session. The Russian driver, who is already due to start the race from the back of the grid due to power unit updates, is unlikely to run in qualifying to receive a new engine for Sunday.

The forecasted rain is yet to make an appearance, perhaps it will arrive in time for qualifying.

Driver Team / Entry Time Gap Laps
1. Charles Leclerc Scuderia Ferrari SF90 1:32.733 14
2. Sebastian Vettel Scuderia Ferrari SF90 1:33.049 + 0.316 15
3. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10 1:33.129 + 0.396 19
4. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10 1:33.354 + 0.621 18
5. Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing RB15 1:34.227 + 1.494 12
6. Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team VF-19 1:34.308 + 1.575 17
7. Alexander Albon Red Bull Racing RB15 1:34.371 + 1.638 21
8. Nico Hülkenberg Renault F1 Team RS19 1:34.421 + 1.688 13
9. Lando Norris McLaren F1 Team MCL34 1:34.527 + 1.794 15
10. Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Team VF-19 1:34.546 + 1.813 15
11. Pierre Gasly Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14 1:34.564 + 1.831 16
12. Daniel Ricciardo Renault F1 Team RS19 1:34.586 + 1.853 14
13. Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren F1 Team MCL34 1:34.607 + 1.874 18
14. Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing C38 1:34.766 + 2.033 15
15. Sergio Pérez Racing Point F1 Team RP19 1:34.860 + 2.127 7
16. Lance Stroll Racing Point F1 Team RP19 1:34.898 + 2.165 16
17. Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Racing C38 1:35.714 + 2.981 19
18. George Russell ROKiT Williams Racing FW42 1:36.011 + 3.278 18
19. Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14 1:36.081 + 3.348 4
20. Robert Kubica ROKiT Williams Racing FW42 1:36.942 + 4.209 19

Image via Scuderia Ferrari

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Charlie Bullis

Formula 1 Journalist at MotorsportM8