Lewis Hamilton placed his Mercedes at the top of the times sheets following the final practice session for the inaugural FIA Formula 1 World Championship Russian Grand Prix, leading his teammate Nico Rosberg by just under three tenths of a second.
The one final hour of practice prior to qualifying began under blue and cloudless skies in the Black Sea region. Overnight two notable alterations had been made, one on the circuit and one just off of it. Kerbing at turn two had been added to prevent the exceeding of track limits. The pit lane speed limit was also reduced.
Sauber’s Adrian Sutil set the first fully fledged lap time, with a 1:43:432. This was quickly bested by Toro Rosso’s resident Russian Daniil Kvyat and then Hamilton deposited himself at the top with a 1:42:030.
During these early stages of the session times were quickly set then bested, with Red Bull man Sebastian Vettel and Rosberg beating the Briton. However, it wasn’t long until the main drama of the session. McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen suffered a terrifying rear end failure which nearly speared him into one of the circuits walls. He pulled over and a red flag was required to remove the stricken car.
After a five minute interruption the session resumed with Valtteri Bottas taking little under ten minutes to throw his Martini Racing Williams to the top. Once again this was bested by Rosberg but the true intrigue was contained within the last quarter of an hour of the session.
As drivers moved from the medium compound to the soft Pirelli tyres, the times in turn began to tumble. This was when Hamilton struck, setting a 1:38:726. Despite the attempts of everyone else in the field, the Brit would not be beaten despite a massive spin whilst on an even faster lap. Rosberg and Bottas battled for second with the German finally claiming the spot, just under three tenths behind Lewis.
Behind the top trio, Daniel Ricciardo was fourth for Red Bull ahead of Bottas’ teammate Felipe Massa. Kvyat maintained his strong form in sixth whilst Vettel struggled only just in tenth. Both Force India cars are to be found outside the top ten, Nico Hulkenburg is twelfth and Sergio Perez in thirteenth. In twentieth and twenty first positions lay Max Chilton (Marussia) with a driver-shaft issue and Pastor Maldonado (Lotus) with an ERS problems.