Ferrari continued to set the pace at the Sochi Autodrom with Sebastian Vettel heading up a Maranello one-two ahead of team-mate Kimi Räikkönen in second practice ahead of Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix.
The Finn had been quickest in the morning session beating Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas by four hundredths of a second on supersoft tyres. However, when the teams moved to the qualifying simulations and the ultrasoft compound in the afternoon, Vettel, who had finished in P5 in a scrappy opening session, made an emphatic step putting almost three tenths between himself and his team-mate and finishing almost seven tenths of a second clear of third place Bottas.
The German’s qualifying run start with a momentary note of concern as he reported an “engine hesitation” but after an opening lap, Vettel’s second ‘push lap’ yielded a time of 1:34.120, 0.263s up on team-mate Räikkönen.
Mercedes could find no response to Vettel’s pace and Bottas finished 0.670s off the pace, with tean-mate Lewis Hamilton three hundredths of a second further behind in fourth place.
Fifth place in the session went to Max Verstappen whose qualifying run resulted in a three tenths of a second advantage over sixth-place team-mate Daniel Ricciardo. The session ended in disappointment for the Dutchman, though, as he was force to pull over at the side of the track 20 minutes before the end, reporting a power loss.
Behind the top three teams the midfield battle again looks tight, with just three tenths of a second separating seventh-placed Felipe Massa of Williams from tenth-place Sergio Perez of Force India.
Massa finished just six hundredth of a second clear of Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, with Haas’ Kevin Magnussen just under two tenths further back in ninth place.
Elsewhere, Fernando Alonso was a decent 12th for McLaren, finishing behind the second Force India of Esetban Ocon, but there were more problems for the team as it was forced to change Stoffel Vandoorne’s power unit.
Lance Stroll was the only driver not to use ultrasoft tyres during the session, with the result that the second Williams driver finished in 19th place, 1.5s slower than team-mate Massa.
2017 Russian Grand Prix – Free Practice 2
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 36 1:34.120
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 36 1:34.383 0.263
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 36 1:34.790 0.670
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 34 1:34.829 0.709
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull 15 1:35.540 1.420
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 26 1:35.910 1.790
7 Felipe Massa Williams 39 1:36.261 2.141
8 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 38 1:36.329 2.209
9 Kevin Magnussen Haas 31 1:36.506 2.386
10 Sergio Perez Force India 38 1:36.600 2.480
11 Esteban Ocon Force India 39 1:36.654 2.534
12 Fernando Alonso McLaren 27 1:36.765 2.645
13 Jolyon Palmer Renault 22 1:36.771 2.651
14 Romain Grosjean Haas 31 1:37.039 2.919
15 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 36 1:37.083 2.963
16 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 25 1:37.125 3.005
17 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 35 1:37.300 3.180
18 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber 30 1:37.441 3.321
19 Lance Stroll Williams 36 1:37.747 3.627
20 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 29 1:37.819 3.699