Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was fastest after going three tenths faster than the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc in second practice for the Russian Grand Prix. The Dutchman set his fastest time on the soft tyres in the last quarter of an hour.
Verstappen had moved up from fourth on his soft tyre run to go fastest, ahead of the Ferrari showing that Red Bull has some pace this weekend as he was half a second faster than the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas. Leclerc was the first of the frontrunners to set a time on softs to consolidate his position at the top of the timesheets.
Then Verstappen went three tenths fastest, despite not getting a clean final sector. However, despite the strong pace, a grid penalty means the Red Bull driver will drop five places. Bottas was six tenths off but outpaced teammate Lewis Hamilton by just over a tenth and a half.
Hamilton had a near-miss with Red Bull’s Alex Albon, as they went through the sweeping Turn Three the two Englishman nearly collided. The Mercedes was coming up and closing up at a rapid pace, coming up behind Hamilton moved quickly moving to the inside of the corner to avoid Albon’s car.
Sebastian Vettel was fifth fastest, the German took longer to get his fastest lap in on the soft tyres and wound up fifth, only gaining a tenth on his soft run leaving him a second off the pace. Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly was sixth, ahead of Sergio Perez.
There was a near collision for Gasly with his teammate Daniil Kvyat when the Russian did not see him after emerging from the pits. But the Frenchman still managed to go two hundredths quicker, thanks to his pace in the final sector.
Tomorrow’s qualifying could be a fight between Ferrari and Red Bull, but its impossible to write off Mercedes. But with the growing resurgence of Ferrari, it could be harder for Mercedes to maintain there 100% record in Sochi. Hamilton believing that they
Nico Hulkenberg was eighth fastest, going five hundredths faster than the Racing Point of Lance Stroll. The Racing Point drivers separated by the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg, with Albon tenth.
As well as nearly colliding with Hamilton, Albon spent the majority of the session in the pits after an early eight-lap run on mediums thanks to a kerb strike that split the floor and caused an oil leak.
Lando Norris split the two Toro Rosso’s, after going seven thousandths slower than Albon. Daniil Kvyat was twelfth fastest ahead of Kevin Magnussen and Daniel Ricciardo.
Alfa Romeo driver Kimi Raikkonen beat Haas’s Romain Grosjean to fifteenth, Romain Grosjean and Carlos Sainz. Antonio Giovinazzi was eighteenth, following a lock up and off at the Turn 13 right-hand on his first qualifying simulation lap, later finding a slight improvement on his medium-pace but still two tenths and three quarters off the pace.