Sochi, FP1: Leclerc edges Verstappen in opening practice for Russian Grand Prix 

Vettel 3rd, Bottas 4th

By Franck Drui

27 September 2019 - 11:32
Sochi, FP1: Leclerc edges Verstappen in

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc beat Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen to the top of the timesheets as the practice sessions for Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix got underway at Sochi Autodrom.

The Monegasque driver finished just under a tenth of a second ahead of his Dutch rival with Singapore Grand Prix-winner Sebastian Vettel third in the second Ferrari. All three drivers set their fastest times on the soft tyre while Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, fourth and fifth respectively, set their best laps on the medium compound Pirelli tyres.

The opening part of the session saw Hamilton go quickest on softs with a lap of 1:36.031s despite telling his team that his brakes had not worked properly during the run.

After the teams handed back the opening set of tyres Mercedes then moved to harder tyres for the remainder of the session and on the medium tyres Bottas ended up the quicker of the two Silver Arrows. The Finn posted a best time of 1:35.198, over four tenths of a second quicker than Hamilton.

With softs onboard Leclerc then dismissed those times comfortably and the Ferrari driver jumped to the top of the order with a lap of 1:34.462. It would remain the benchmark until the end of the session.

Verstappen’s name did not figure at the sharp end of the order for much of the session as he restricted himself to harder compound tyres for much of the session. However, in the final 20 minutes he moves to soft rubber and vaulted to second place just 0.082s behind Leclerc.

With Vettel in third ahead of the two Mercedes, sixth place was taken by Alex Albon in the second Red Bull. The Thai driver, who won the Formula 2 feature race in Sochi last year, ended the session just over a second adrift of Leclerc. Both Red Bulls, as with both Toro Rossos, will take grid penalties this weekend due to changes of Honda power unit elements.

Best of the rest status in the session wen to Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg. The German set a best time of 1:35.740 to finish more than half a second up on eighth-place team-mate Daniel Ricciardo. Sergio Pérez was ninth for Racing Point and the top-10 order was rounded out Haas’ Romain Grosjean.

01 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF90 1:34.462 20
02 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda RB15 1:34.544 25
03 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari SF90 1:35.005 20
04 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes W10 1:35.198 28
05 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W10 1:35.411 22
06 Alex Albon Red Bull Honda RB15 1:35.484 22
07 Nico Hülkenberg Renault RS19 1:35.740 21
08 Daniel Ricciardo Renault RS19 1:36.287 20
09 Sergio Pérez Racing Point Mercedes RP19 1:36.321 27
10 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari VF-19 1:36.516 23
11 Carlos Sainz McLaren Renault MCL34 1:36.523 28
12 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso Honda STR14 1:36.538 25
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari VF-19 1:36.596 21
14 Lance Stroll Racing Point Mercedes RP19 1:36.714 26
15 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Ferrari C38 1:36.770 22
16 Lando Norris McLaren Renault MCL34 1:36.844 30
17 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari C38 1:37.328 18
18 George Russell Williams Mercedes FW42 1:38.520 27
19 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso Honda STR14 1:38.550 5
20 Robert Kubica Williams Mercedes FW42 1:38.670 29


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