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Sochi, FP1: Bottas quickest in first practice for Russian Grand Prix

Hamilton 2nd, Verstappen 3rd

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By Olivier Ferret

24 September 2021 - 11:38
Sochi, FP1: Bottas quickest in (...)

Two-time Russian Grand Prix winner Valtteri Bottas went quickest in the opening practice session for this year’s event at Sochi Autodrom, with the Mercedes driving beating team-mate by two tenths of a second. Championship leader Max Verstappen was third for Red Bull Racing.

Bottas first rose to the top of the order 15 minutes into the session, using hard tyres to move ahead of early pacesetter Charles Leclerc thanks to a lap of 1:36.412s. Leclerc had taken top spot on soft tyres as he used new hybrid elements in his Ferrari power unit for the first time. The arrival of the new components means the Monegasque will start Sunday’s race from the back of the grid.

Vertsappen them emerged, also on soft tyres, and across a a multi-lap run on the red-banded tyres he steadily found more time and eventually took P1 with a best time of 1:35.616 just short of halfway way through the one-hour session.

Both Mercedes cars then went out on soft tyres and Bottas soon reclaimed P1 with a lap of 1:34.427, while Hamilton took second place just 0.211s behind his team-mate. He might have eclipsed the Finn but a mistake in the penultimate corner cost him time.

The focus then switched to longer runs, but with 15 minutes left on the clock Red Bull Racing sent Verstappen out again on softs for a qualifying simulation. The championship leader went quickest of all in the middle sector but losses early in the lap and in the final corners meant he finished the session 0.227s adrift of the Mercedes man.

Leclerc finished in fourth place ahead of Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, while Pierre Gasly took sixth for AlphaTauri, finishing ahead of the second Ferrari of Carlos Sainz and McLaren’s Lando Norris, as Perez and Fernando Alonso rounded out the top 10.

Norris has an odd incident after the chequered flag when he spun at low speed reporting that the rear end of his car had locked. He also clipped the inside of the pit entry wall on his return to his garage causing minor damage to his front wing.

Pos.DriverCarTimeLaps
01 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes W12 1:34.427 25
02 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W12 1:34.638 23
03 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda RB16B 1:34.654 13
04 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF21 1:35.117 22
05 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Mercedes AMR21 1:35.781 23
06 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Honda AT02 1:35.794 24
07 Carlos Sainz Ferrari SF21 1:35.811 25
08 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes MCL35M 1:35.959 24
09 Sergio Pérez Red Bull Honda RB16B 1:36.188 22
10 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault A521 1:36.225 21
11 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault A521 1:36.236 25
12 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes AMR21 1:36.522 21
13 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari C41 1:36.795 23
14 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes MCL35M 1:36.877 23
15 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Ferrari C41 1:36.952 20
16 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda AT02 1:37.794 26
17 George Russell Williams Mercedes FW43B 1:38.013 23
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes FW43B 1:38.155 21
19 Nikita Mazepin Haas Ferrari VF-21 1:38.586 22
20 Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari VF-21 1:38.977 23

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