With the first free practice session this morning, the weekend of the Russian GP has officially begun, after a week off for the Formula 1 Circus.
The sun is shining today in Sochi, on the very technical track that winds through the buildings that hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Bad weather could arrive tomorrow and on Sunday according to forecasts, and the hypothesis is that the qualifying session can be held before the race on Sunday.
Hamilton seems to be the favorite driver for this weekend. Mercedes has always won in Sochi, and the situation with Max Verstappen, who will have to serve three positions on Sunday's starting grid, seems to confirm it. The Dutchman from Red Bull was, in fact, found guilty of the contact he had during the Italian GP with his main rival for the Championship, Lewis Hamilton.
Valtteri Bottas was the fastest, followed his teammate Lewis Hamilton. Ferrari performed well with Charles Leclerc, setting some good lap times, after the fear that something on the car was not working properly, while Verstappen seemed a bit less competitive.
10:25 - Track conditions are quite good this morning, the sun is shining and there’s no risk of rain, even though the track is a bit still slippery. Drivers must pay attention to the track limits, any abuse will be sanctioned with the cancellation of the time.
10:30 - Green light and the first one to go on track is Carlos Sainz with his Ferrari. Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz are ready to compete for the top 5 with the two McLarens looking for confirmation after the double podium in Monza.
10:35 Lewis Hamilton, 4 times winner on this track, immediately takes the lead in 1:38.373 with hard tyres. Second place for Sergio Perez ahead of Charles Leclerc.
10.38 - Leclerc steals the scene with soft tyres. Fastest lap for him in 1.36.706 ahed of Valtteri Bottas. New Power Unit for Leclerc’s Ferrari, the “Rossa” focuses on this update to gain some positions. Good results from the French Esteban Ocon (Alpine) who is fourth behind the two Mercedes.
10:44 - Valtteri Bottas is now first, Leclerc is still second but he has to box, because according to a team radio “there’s something strange” with the car.
10:47 - After 17 minutes Max Verstappen is on track, he is now in 6th position, behind Bottas by 0.995. Immediately quickest lap for Verstappen, with the best performing compound. 1:36.055 is the new best time lap of the weekend, until now.
10:52 - Track conditions aren’t improving, the wind is “annoying” according to the drivers in turns 13 and 14.
10:56 - Kimi Raikkonen is in 15th position. The Finn returned aboard his Alfa Romeo this weekend, after his absence in the Netherlands and Italy, where he was replaced by Robert Kubica, due to his positive test to Covid-19.
10:58 - Bottas leads again. New fastest lap for the Finn in 1:34.427. Hamilton completes a new attempt but remains second, 2 tenths behind his teammate.
11:04 - Carlos Sainz is back on track, currently 11th. First lap for the Iberian with red tyres. He improves and climbs to 6th position, behind the Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin). Ferrari is in third place with the Monegasque Charles Leclerc, good signs from this FP1 for the Italian team .
11:20 - Last laps for everyone, while the mechanics work on Lando Norris' McLaren, 8th at the moment. Different work for Mercedes who is already simulating the race pace.
11:27 - Hamilton is back on track with a new wing, some test for Mercedes in the last few minutes. Red Bull Mechanics are working on Verstappen's car. There may be a Power Unit change.
11:30 - End of the session. Valtteri Bottas closes the FP1 of the Russian GP in the lead with an incredible race pace. 1.34.4 is the fastest lap of this session ahead of Hamilton and Verstappen.