Vettel Tops First Practice for Russian GP


Title contender Vettel and Verstappen both set their times on Pirelli’s hypersoft tyres, while third-placed championship leader Lewis Hamilton largely restricted himself to the hardest of the compounds on offer this weekend, the soft tyre, and finished just 0.330s behind Vettel.

Valtteri Bottas matched team-mate Hamilton in mostly running on the soft tyres to finish the session in fourth place half a second off the pace.

Daniel Ricciardo took fifth place on the timesheet, though the Red Bull driver spend most of the session in his team’s garage after he was forced back to the pits early on with smoke coming from the back of his car.

Both Red Bull drivers are already facing grid penalties on Sunday due to a reversion to an older-spec Renault engine for the upcoming races. They will be joined towards the rear of the grid by Toro Rosso’ Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley who are taking strategic PU-related penalties ahead of supplier Honda’s home race in Japan in a little over a week, and also McLaren’s Fernando Alonso.

Breaking the hegemony of the championship’s top three teams, Racing Point Force India’s Esteban took sixth place in the session, 1.175s adrift of Vettel, but three hundredths of a second clear of Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen.

Kevin Magnussen, who alongside 11th –placed team-mate Romain Grosjean were this morning reconfirmed with Haas for 2019, took eighth place ahead of Nico Hulkenberg. Renault driver Hulkenberg was forced to quite the session shortly before the chequered flag when his team spotted a technical malfunction on his car.

Tenth place in the session went to Sauber reserve driver Antonio Giovaninazzi, who was sitting in for regular race driver Marcus Ericsson. It was confirmed earlier this week that Gionvinazzi will replace Ericsson at the Swiss team in 2019 with the Swede switching the reserve driver role.

Three other race drivers gave up their FP1 running to test drivers in Sochi, with Stoffel Vandoorne making way for his 2019 replacment Lando Norris at McLaren, Carlos Sainz handing over to Russian F2 driver Artem Markelov, and Sergio Pérez giving way to Nicholas Latifi at Racing Point Force India. Norris finished in 13th place, with Markelov 15th and Latifi in 17th.

2018 Formula Russian Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:34.488 19
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:34.538 0.050 22
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:34.818 0.330 23
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:34.999 0.511 28
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:35.524 1.036 11
6 Esteban Ocon Racing Point Force India 1:35.663 1.175 24
7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:35.696 1.208 19
8 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:36.196 1.708 21
9 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:36.274 1.786 18
10 Antonio Giovinazzi Sauber 1:36.712 2.224 22
11 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:36.816 2.328 23
12 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 1:36.944 2.456 25
13 Lando Norris McLaren 1:37.022 2.534 25
14 Charles Leclerc Sauber 1:37.054 2.566 24
15 Artem Markelov Renault 1:37.183 2.695 22
16 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1:37.187 2.699 27
17 Nicholas Latifi Racing Point Force India 1:37.206 2.718 24
18 Sergey Sirotkin Williams 1:37.225 2.737 25
19 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1:37.944 3.456 28
20 Lance Stroll Williams 1:39.137 4.649 13

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