Sochi, FP: Vandoorne tops Sochi free practice

Series leader sets quickest laptime of the session


By Olivier Ferret

9 October 2015 - 12:15
Sochi, FP: Vandoorne tops Sochi (...)

McLaren tester and Series leader Stoffel Vandoorne was on top form in this morning’s free practice at the Sochi Autodrom: with a laptime of 1:45.326 – six tenths clear from Arthur Pic in P2, the Belgian easily topped the session laying his cards on the table before this afternoon’s qualifying session as title rival Alexander Rossi had a more challenging session and finished eighth.

The pitlane opened under grey skies and in cool temperatures. Raffaele Marciello was the first driver to feed onto the track on Medium Pirelli tyres, but it was Alex Lynn who set the early pace ahead of the Italian. Vandoorne was next to go top, but Lynn was able to go even faster to reclaim P1.

Vandoorne however was clearly on a mission: he was the first man to dip under 1m47s (six tenths clear from Lynn). As Pierre Gasly edged his teammate out of P2 and reduced the gap to Vandoorne, the ART racer found some extra pace again on his next lap to leave the Frenchman 1.160s behind on the timing screens. Vandoorne eventually crushed his rivals’ hopes for glory after he broke the 1m46s barrier with ten minutes left on the clock.

Behind him, Rio Haryanto moved up to P2, but his teammate Arthur Pic bettered his laptime in the final stages of the session and relegated the Indonesian to third. At the chequered flag and behind the top three, Mitch Evans finished fourth ahead of Lynn and Gasly. It was a trickier session for Rossi who seemed to struggle in the opening stages (he span at Sector 11 but was able to resume): the American managed to move up to P7 in the dying minutes, but Sergey Sirotkin edged him out at the chequered flag. Marciello and Nobuharu Matsushita completed the top ten.

With the weather forecast uncertain for this afternoon (light raindrops made an appearance at the end of the free practice), the order might be reshuffled for the qualifying session in a few hours’ time.

1. Stoffel Vandoorne ART Grand Prix 1:45.326 17
2. Arthur Pic Campos Racing 1:46.025 18
3. Rio Haryanto Campos Racing 1:46.099 19
4. Mitch Evans RUSSIAN TIME 1:46.188 15
5. Alex Lynn DAMS 1:46.216 18
6. Pierre Gasly DAMS 1:46.232 20
7. Sergey Sirotkin Rapax 1:46.290 21
8. Alexander Rossi Racing Engineering 1:46.448 18
9. Raffaele Marciello Trident 1:46.448 20
10. Nobuharu Matsushita ART Grand Prix 1:46.673 20
11. André Negrao Arden International 1:46.746 20
12. Johnny Cecotto Trident 1:46.902 19
13. Norman Nato Arden International 1:46.934 19
14. Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME 1:47.018 17
15. Rene Binder MP Motorsport 1:47.132 18
16. Nicholas Latifi MP Motorsport 1:47.173 19
17. Jordan King Racing Engineering 1:47.176 17
18. Sergio Canamasas Daiko Team Lazarus 1:47.300 17
19. Dean Stoneman Carlin 1:47.358 18
20. Richie Stanaway Status Grand Prix 1:47.411 14
21. Nathanaël Berthon Daiko Team Lazarus 1:47.431 17
22. Marlon Stockinger Status Grand Prix 1:47.707 20
23. Robert Visoiu Rapax 1:48.445 20
24. Sean Gelael Carlin 1:48.959 19


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