Tip-toeing rather than flat out running as Massa tops a wet FP2 at the Russian Grand Prix

After 90-minutes of running in Russia, Massa topped the second practice session.

While FP1 got underway with damp track conditions when the marshals were forced to clean diesel from the circuit, FP2 got underway with a damp track after isolated downfalls sprung upon parts of the track. Nevertheless F1’s superstars struggled with the Sochi circuit, with Massa topping the time sheet from Vettel as eight drivers posted a time.

As mentioned, FP1 for the Russian Grand Prix went green while marshals were cleaning most of the circuit after a track cleaning truck left diesel across the circuit. In the end, the FIA were forced to delay the start by thirty minutes before they could engage the action that saw Alonso & McLaren regularly be competitive before Rosberg & Hulkenberg dropped the throttle to top the time sheet.

With a wet track over the second half and the first half partly dry, drivers and teams had to put their programmes on the back burner and watch the rain fall rather than pound out the laps. In fact, over the first four minutes only two drivers really took to the track with Alonso and Vettel briefly carrying out installation laps.

While out on track, Fernando also became the first man to post a lap time with the wet tyres. He soon lowered his original 2:05.599, as he notched the seconds off to lower his best time to a 2:01.077 by the half way mark before returning to his garage.

After Alonso left the wet track for his dry garage, he was replaced on the circuit as the dry line maker by Valtteri Bottas but with limited grip he soon returned to his garage. Likewise did Rosberg as Mercedes tempered their drivers’ running with short runs each without setting a lap time.

But while Mercedes kept their championship contenders safe from crashing out, like Hamilton did back in Canada in mixed practice conditions, Toro Rosso’s duo were lapping up the slippery laps. This being despite the rear-end preventing them from putting the power down on exits but provided them with enough grip, just, to go in a straight enough line. Elsewhere, drivers were sitting in the garage as they were struggling to find grip due to severely low tyre temps.

The Toro Rosso pair continued to push for a better time with Verstappen staying on track until he bettered Alonso’s benchmark time, despite initially bettering the Spaniard in the first sector before dropping 1.5 seconds over the rest of the lap.

Shortly after Verstappen returned to the pits, Force India sent Hulkenberg out onto the track but were soon on the radio to inform him of more rain beginning to fall over the pit-straight area of the circuit, to make conditions worse.

After sitting out most of the session, the Red Bull’s, Williams’ and Button finally took to the track in the closing ten minutes with Kvyat moving up to third with Bottas and Massa split by Sainz in 5th.

As Vettel joined the action, Fernando was re-leaving the track but this time for a more clinical reason as the team called for him to box as they “have a problem”. While Alonso rolled his way back, the team were fitting their rubber gloves suggesting a ERS issue was the cause of his early finish.

He was not alone in a late flurry of drama however as Vettel slipped off the track under braking while Bottas slipped his way into the top spot by two hundredths of a second before the chequered flag fell. Valtteri was able to improve again soon after the flag began to wave but only to edge away by another nine hundredths.

Yet again though as one man crossed the line, one man was going fastest. This time however it was a double-hit as Vettel initially went fastest before Massa moved ahead to put Williams back on top.

Position Driver Gap
1 Massa 2:00.458
2 Vettel 0.201
3 Bottas 0.230
4 Verstappen 0.348
5 Alonso 0.619
6 Kvyat 0.960
7 Sainz 2.347
8 Button 2.387
9 Rosberg No time set
10 Ericsson No time set
11 Hamilton No time set
12 Perez No time set
13 Hulkenberg No time set
14 Ricciardo No time set
15 Raikkonen No time set
16 Grosjean No time set
17 Nasr No time set
18 Maldonado No time set
19 Stevens No time set
20 Merhi No time set