Lewis Hamilton headed his Formula One team-mate Valtteri Bottas during second practice for the 2018 Russian Grand Prix, whilst Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo shined as Ferrari’s struggles continued.
The Briton’s fastest lap was a 1.33.385s in his Mercedes Formula 1 car, and that set him 0.199s clear of Valtteri Bottas – who lost time after going wide at the final corner, similar to how he threw pole away in 2014 in his Williams Formula 1 car.
The Ferrari drivers struggles of Singapore continued here, with Vettel not able to hook up a clean flying lap in his Ferrari, despite heading first free practice.
Story of the session
As the second practice session got underway in the sun of Sochi, McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne were first to take to the circuit, as they were keen on getting initial running in, as Alonso sat out FP1 whilst Nando Lorris took to circuit.
Vandoorne set the first time of the session, with the Belgian driver setting a 1.37.819 after picking up a massive slipstream from team-mate Fernando Alonso during the first half of his lap.
As the front-runners took to the circuit, Sebastian Vettel went straight back to the top of the order with a 1.35.382s, and that set him 1.590s clear of Kevin Magnussen, as the other waited on. The German soon went for a second attempt, with Vettel improving to a 1.34.984s at the top of the table, but Verstappen soon went 0.551s faster with a 1.34.433s during his first lap in his Red Bull.
As Hamilton took to the circuit, the Brit went third fastest, some 0.7s off Verstappen’s best last and around two tenths adrift of world championship rival Sebastian Vettel. Verstappen soon extended his advantage upfront with a 1.34.164, with Bottas slotting into second some half second adrift.
As Hamilton put the gremlin down, he went second fastest and just 0.081s adrift of Verstappen’s lap despite being on the slower, ultra-soft tyres.
Verstappen was first man to set a qualifying simulation lap in his Red Bull on ultra-soft tyres, despite a rapid lap, the Dutchman improved by less than a tenth to keep him at the top of the order.
Bottas had a rough end to his qualifying-simulation lap and went onto the grass, however still went fastest, whilst Verstappen was able to further go faster, but the Mercedes was able to tip the Red Bull driver in a breeze.
Following Bottas’ mistake, Hamilton pipped his team-mate by 0.036s, whilst championship rival Sebastian Vettel could only go fourth fastest in his Ferrari Formula 1 car.
As Vettel went for a second lap, he lost time in the final sector and failed to improve, while Hamilton extended his advantage upfront with a 1.33.385s.