Hamilton Heads Mercedes 1-2 in Russia


Hamilton, who comes into this weekend carrying a 40-point championship lead over chief rival Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari, posted a time of 1:33.584 a third of the way through the session after bolting on a set of hypersoft compound tyres as the field set about qualifying simulations. The Briton’s time saw him finish 0.199s ahead of Bottas.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was third fastest at the Sochi Autodrom, with the Dutch driver recording a best time of 1:33.827. That left him just under two hundredths of a second clear of fourth-placed team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, with both driver just over four tenths of a second off Hamilton’s pace.

After opening his Sochi account with the fastest time of the morning session, Vettel slipped to fourth in the afternoon, his time of 1:33.928 leaving him 0.543s adrift of Hamilton on a circuit where Mercedes have never been beaten in the race. The German’s Ferrari team-mate Kimi Räikkönen took sixth place in the session, though the Finn ended up almost half a second behind Vettel and 1.003s down on the P1 pace.

Best of the rest status went to Racing Point Force India’s Sergio Perez, whose seventh-place time was over 1.7s off Hamilton table-topping time. The Mexican driver was separated from ninth-placed team-mate Esteban Ocon by Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly who edged his French compatriot by just one hundredth of a second.

Marcus Ericsson, who had made way for his 2019 Sauber replacement Antonio Giovinazzi in the morning session rounded out the top 10 with a good time of 1:35.295, 0.137s ahead of 13th-placed team-mate Charles Leclerc.

Kevin Magnussen finished in 11th place, four spots ahead of Haas team-mate Romain Grosjean. Carlos Sainz, who had given up his Renault to Russian tester Artem Markelov in the morning, ended his first session of the weekend in 12th place. Team-mate Nico Hulkenberg was 14th behind Leclerc and Grosjean, with Brendon Hartley 16th in the second Toro Rosso.

The final places were taken by the McLarens of 17th-placed Fernando Alonso and team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne, and then the Williams cars of local hero Sergey Sirotkin and Canada’s Lance Stroll, with the pairing more than three seconds off the pace.

2018 Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix – Free Practice 2 
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 35 1:33.385
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 33 1:33.584 0.199
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 32 1:33.827 0.442
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 37 1:33.844 0.459
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 33 1:33.928 0.543
6 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 31 1:34.388 1.003
7 Sergio Perez Racing Point Force India 30 1:35.122 1.737
8 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 28 1:35.137 1.752
9 Esteban Ocon Racing Point Force India 33 1:35.147 1.762
10 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 35 1:35.295 1.910
11 Kevin Magnussen Haas 33 1:35.331 1.946
12 Carlos Sainz Renault 37 1:35.341 1.956
13 Charles Leclerc Sauber 32 1:35.432 2.047
14 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 35 1:35.568 2.183
15 Romain Grosjean Haas 35 1:35.911 2.526
16 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 29 1:36.024 2.639
17 Fernando Alonso McLaren 34 1:36.074 2.689
18 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 31 1:36.617 3.232
19 Sergey Sirotkin Williams 39 1:36.861 3.476
20 Lance Stroll Williams 35 1:37.001 3.616

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