Max Verstappen ended the opening day at the Russian Grand Prix on top as the Dutchman bested Charles Leclerc for bragging rights in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship.
Scuderia Ferrari continued their form from the opening practice session in the early exchanges as Leclerc lead Sebastian Vettel once more in Sochi. Max Verstappen continued his own form by rounding out the top three as Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team also seemingly kept pace in hand in the early stages.
As the second set of fast runs began, Leclerc reinforced his dominance, moving ever further clear. Yet there was another twist in the tail as Verstappen went fastest of all for Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, arguably highlighting the potential potency of Honda’s new power unit.
Behind the leading pair the Mercedes’ ran third and fourth, albeit with Valtteri Bottas over half a second down on the benchmark pace in the lead Silver Arrow with Lewis Hamilton fourth. Behind the Brackley-squad was Vettel, the German simply didn’t put together an improved second run and duly fell down the timesheets on a day where he could simply not match Leclerc.
Behind the top five was a surprising name, Pierre Gasly. Freed from the pressure of his Red Bull seat, Gasly has gone from strength to strength and this session was further representation of that. Sergio Pérez was next up in seventh, with Lance Stroll in ninth to complete a good day for SportPesa Racing Point. They were split by Nico Hülkenberg in the Renault who continues to impress in Sochi.
Late in the session Alex Albon moved up to tenth following a session in which he was limited in track time due to a floor problem that required repairs. This saw the Thai-driver miss vast amounts of the session and fail to get a race-simulation in. Lando Norris shone for McLaren, coming eleventh as McLaren continued to struggle relative to rivals Renault.
Daniil Kvyat was twelfth in the second Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda, as the home-hero looked to bounce back from a frustrating Free Practice One session, just ahead of the lead Haas F1 car of Kevin Magnussen. However, the Dane was forced to pit prematurely due to a power unit issue at the session’s climax. Meanwhile, Daniel Ricciardo continued to struggle relative to his out-going team-mate Hülkenberg who continues to shine in Sochi.
Kimi Räikkönen was fifteenth for Alfa Romeo Racing as the Hinwil-outfit continued to struggle in Sochi. Antonio Giovinazzi’s form further illustrated this as he resided in eighteenth place. Albeit, the Italian missed the second runs due to a lock-up that saw him go straight on.
Romain Grosjean and Carlos Sainz Jr. were sixteenth and seventeenth respectively for Haas and McLaren as both struggled to match their younger team-mates. ROKit Williams Racing continued to round up the field with George Russell continuing his supremacy over Robert Kubica in nineteenth and twentieth respectively.