Formula 1

Bottas Leads Hamilton and Verstappen in Opening Sochi Autodrom Free Practice Session

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Credit: LAT Images

Valtteri Bottas topped the opening free practice session of the Russian Grand Prix weekend on Friday, with the Finn edging out Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team team-mate Lewis Hamilton by two-tenths of a second.

Under blue skies, the twenty drivers took to the track for the opening running of the weekend at the Sochi Autodrom, which included Kimi Räikkönen after the Finn’s two-race absence following a positive COVID-19 test during the Dutch Grand Prix weekend.

Bottas, who will be leaving Mercedes at the end of the season, hit top spot early on when running on the hard compound Pirelli tyre and then improved significantly on the soft, with his best time of 1:34.427 edging out Hamilton by 0.211 seconds and Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen by 0.227 seconds.

Charles Leclerc, who will take a grid penalty on Sunday following an engine change, was the only other driver to get within one-second of Bottas’ time, with the Scuderia Ferrari driver fourth, 0.690 seconds back.

Sebastian Vettel will be encouraged by the performance of his Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team machine as he placed fifth, just ahead of Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda’s Pierre Gasly, while Carlos Sainz Jr. was seventh in the second Ferrari.

Lando Norris ended eighth, but he had an eventful end to the session, with the McLaren F1 Team driver spinning as he drove slowly back to the pit lane at the penultimate turn.  It appeared his rear wheels locked up and sent him into the spin, with his front wing being damaged as a result.

Sergio Pérez was 1.761 seconds off the pace in the second Red Bull, with the Mexican ending only ninth fastest, while Fernando Alonso edged out his Alpine F1 Team team-mate Esteban Ocon to complete the top ten.

Lance Stroll was down in twelfth in the second Aston Martin, just ahead of the leading Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN of Antonio Giovinazzi.  Giovinazzi had one moment at turn two that saw him lock up and run through the makeshift chicane there, while another moment at the end of the session saw him suffer a big lock up at the end of the back straight.

Italian Grand Prix race winner Daniel Ricciardo was only fourteenth in the second McLaren, just ahead of the returning Räikkönen, while the second AlphaTauri of Yuki Tsunoda was sixteenth, the Japanese racer another to have to go through the makeshift chicane at turn two after running wide.

The field was completed by the two Williams Racing machines of George Russell and Nicholas Latifi, and the two Uralkali Haas F1 Team drivers of Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher.

Sochi Autodrom Free Practice 1 Result

177Valtteri BottasFINMercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:34.427 25
244Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:34.638+0.21123
333Max VerstappenNEDRed Bull Racing1:34.654+0.22713
416Charles LeclercMONScuderia Ferrari1:35.117+0.69022
55Sebastian VettelGERAston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team1:35.781+1.35423
610Pierre GaslyFRAScuderia AlphaTauri Honda1:35.794+1.36724
755Carlos Sainz Jr.ESPScuderia Ferrari1:35.811+1.38425
84Lando NorrisITAMcLaren F1 Team1:35.959+1.53224
911Sergio PérezMEXRed Bull Racing1:36.118+1.76122
1014Fernando AlonsoESPAlpine F1 Team1:36.225+1.79821
1131Esteban OconFRAAlpine F1 Team1:36.236+1.80925
1218Lance StrollCANAston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team1:36.522+2.09521
1399Antonio GiovinazziITAAlfa Romeo Racing ORLEN1:36.795+2.36823
143Daniel RicciardoAUSMcLaren F1 Team1:36.877+2.45023
157Kimi RäikkönenFINAlfa Romeo Racing ORLEN1:36.952+2.52520
1622Yuki TsunodaJAPScuderia AlphaTauri Honda1:37.794+3.36726
1763George RussellGBRWilliams Racing1:38.013+3.58623
186Nicholas LatifiCANWilliams Racing1:38.155+3.72821
199Nikita MazepinRUSUralkali Haas F1 Team1:38.586+4.15922
2047Mick SchumacherGERUralkali Haas F1 Team1:38.977+4.55023
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