Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team continued their domination of the Russian Grand Prix, by taking a one-two in both of the opening Free Practice Sessions on what was a very successful Friday at the Sochi Autodrom.
Valtteri Bottas who appears to be the king of the Sochi Autodrom after so much success at the circuit, was the man to beat on Friday. The Finnish driver topped both Free Practice One and Free Practice Two and looked strong on the opening day.
Bottas will be hoping to continue being the driver to beat on Saturday at a circuit he enjoys, however with the weather almost definitely going to be wet, it will present a brand new challenge for all the drivers.
“If you look at the timings and based on my own feeling in the car, it was a good day. From the first run, I had confidence in the car and the balance was very good so I could focus on my driving, looking for small gains. Tomorrow looks like it will be wet, so it’ll be a completely different experience. The main thing is the car feels good on the long runs so that’s encouraging for Sunday which should be dry. I really find my flow on this track and I enjoy it – when the car works well here, it’s great fun to drive.”
“We ticked off as much as we could” – Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton completed a Mercedes one-two in both Friday sessions and like his team-mate looked strong. Hamilton ended the opening day just +0.044s behind Bottas on a weekend where he has a monumental opportunity to regain the championship lead from Max Verstappen. Verstappen will be starting from the back of the grid after having to have a fourth engine fitted to the car, therefore exceeding his allocation of three engines.
Hamilton’s opening day did have a slight mishap, the British driver sent his jackman tumbling to the ground when pulling into his pit-box, the jackman was okay. The seven-time world champion is pleased with how the opening day went but is aware of the mixed weather ahead for the remainder of the weekend.
“We had two good sessions today pace-wise. We ticked off as much as we could working through different setup items and had very clean runs with no issues so overall it was a good day. Valtteri and I went quite different with our setups to see which areas work best and we’ll spend tonight studying the data to understand where we want the car for tomorrow and Sunday. It looks like it will be a lot of rain tomorrow, a big wet day, and we’ll have to consider our setup with that in mind but keeping an eye on Sunday which is set to be dry.”