Russian GP | Ferrari again quickest as Vettel tops FP2

Second free practice at the Russian Grand Prix topped by Sebastian Vettel.

Friday in Russia belonged to Ferrari, with Vettel keeping the Prancing Horse ahead of the Silver Arrow. Pipping his Finnish team-mate by a quarter of a second, as Grosjean continued to groan regarding his Haas as he was struck with persistent problems.

When Formula One returned to the road in Sochi, supersoft tyres were the Pirelli’s of choice. With all bar Carlos Sainz taking to the Russian tarmac with the middle compound fitted following its mid-morning introduction.

Taking to the green light, too, was Nico Hulkenberg. As Renault’s German driver returned to the cockpit following Sergey Sirotkin’s brief FP1 outing that saw the Renault ease to a halt with an engine error.

Likewise, Honda found issues with their power unit run by Stoffel Vandoorne in the opening session. Forcing McLaren into yet another engine change and taking them onto the fifth turbocharger and MGU-H despite it only being the fourth round of the championship. Meaning the team via Stoffel has already reached and passed the four component limit for the season, resulting in a grid penalty for the Belgian.

While McLaren set about Vandoorne’s engine swap, forcing the Belgian to miss the start of the second session, both Haas drivers were out from the off. With both drivers also noting issues with their brakes.

For the Russian Grand Prix, Haas arrive with a new brake supplier for the weekend having swapped from Brembo to Carbone Industries. A swap that seemed long coming after the repeated brake issues in 2016 at the hands of Grosjean.

Now, though, a swap in brake suppliers has come yet issues still appear.

Magnussen FP1 Russia - haas

Kevin Magnussen, running during free practice at the Russian Grand Prix. Photo credit: Haas F1 Team.

For Magnussen, who acted as the first man out in FP2, he developed a long brake pedal within the opening minutes. Yet despite the long period of movement prior to any braking, the team inquired to if the car was still drivable rather than pulling K-Mag back in early on.

Not long after and Grosjean was complaining on the radio, too. Noting his brakes felt rather soft. All the while, Nico Hulkenberg utilised his track time to post the first timed lap of the session. Posting a 1:42.336 as he settled into his proceedings.

Having set the fastest time of the opening session, Kimi Raikkonen did not take long before blasting past Hulkenberg’s opening lap. Smashing the benchmark to move the top time into the 1:36s and later below.

Meanwhile, Grosjean grew increasingly frustrated. Snapping on the radio “what the hell is going on?” after issues through turns three and four.

Unfortunately, Grosjean’s day never truly picked up either. With Romain regularly developing another cause for concern as he suffered from understeer across the circuit, before a random heavy rear lock up sent his car into a spin at the final corner.

Grosjean was able to keep going for a short while after his rear lock up. But his session continued to prove painful as he returned to the radio claiming he did not “have any brakes”.

Despite setting the pace, Ferrari in part had issues of their own. For while the team had both Raikkonen and Vettel at the top, their drivers were finding their best lap times on the second or third flying laps. More than suggesting tyre warm up – an issue for most teams in Russia – is an area the Italian outfit could improve on.

Tyre warm up, however, is not a general concern for Mercedes. With the Silver Arrows able to generate tyre heat more quickly than their rivals, allowing them to push earlier and take less life out of the rubber.

Ferrari’s prolonged warm up period continued later into the session when ultrasoft tyres were first fitted. Eventually seeing Raikkonen drop his own benchmark by more than a second to create a 1.3-second gap to the field.

But, like Raikkonen, Vettel found his best pace on his second flying lap. Demoting the Finn to second place by nearly a quarter of a second.

More than a quarter of a second, however, split Raikkonen from the Mercedes. With both of the Brackley based drivers coming home more than half a second down on the second placed Ferrari.

Again, Red Bull continued to look down on pace too. With Verstappen and Ricciardo comfortable fifth and sixth but nowhere near competing for the front.

A late power loss for Verstappen failed to give their day a silver lining, either. With the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix winner made to park up with 20 minutes left on the clock.

1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari 36 1’34.120
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari 36 1’34.383 0.263
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes Mercedes 36 1’34.790 0.67
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 34 1’34.829 0.709
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull TAG 15 1’35.540 1.42
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull TAG 26 1’35.910 1.79
7 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes 39 1’36.261 2.141
8 Nico Hulkenberg Renault Renault 38 1’36.329 2.209
9 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 31 1’36.506 2.386
10 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 38 1’36.600 2.48
11 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 39 1’36.654 2.534
12 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 27 1’36.765 2.645
13 Jolyon Palmer Renault Renault 22 1’36.771 2.651
14 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 31 1’37.039 2.919
15 Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso Renault 36 1’37.083 2.963
16 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Honda 25 1’37.125 3.005
17 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso Renault 35 1’37.300 3.18
18 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 30 1’37.441 3.321
19 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 36 1’37.747 3.627
20 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 29 1’37.819 3.699