Russian GP | Raikkonen puts Ferrari on top in FP1

Kimi Raikkonen tops the first practice session at the Russian Grand Prix.

Kicking off the Russian weekend, Raikkonen put a Ferrari on top at a circuit only Mercedes have won at. Laying down an early challenge to the Silver Arrows dominance at the Russian Grand Prix, while Force India saw their engine cover fly from the car.

Ever since Russia gained a championship round and before, only Mercedes had won a Grand Prix in the country. Taking the two non-championship events in 1913 and 1914 and continuing where they left off 100 years later.

The three most recent Russian Grand Prix have also seen only Mercedes drivers lead the race. But as Ferrari continues to look a threat on Sunday’s, that could change in 2017.

That said, Mercedes’ tyre management failings that harm them in the race may not prevalent in Sochi thanks to the less-abbrasive surface. Something that may allow the hardest Pirelli compounds to endure the entire Grand Prix from start to finish.

In FP1, meanwhile, running from start to finish was not something achievable for practice driver Sergey Sirotkin as the Russian stepped into Hulkenberg’s Renault.

The Russian driver would only be in the cockpit for a short while, however, before an engine issue suddenly cut his running short. Actually giving Sergey the chance to attempt an engine reboot via the MGU-H. Although the marshals stepped in before he rolled again as the process took too long.

FP1 also raised issues for Williams and Force India, while ex-Williams driver Valtteri Bottas often set the pace.

For Williams, their two drivers in Massa and Stroll began the session heavily suffering from oversteer as they applied the throttle. Pitching the cars into a wobble that required saving in order to prevent a spin close to the exit wall.

As for Force India, the team whose pace left them jousting Red Bull, saw their engine cover fly from the car as Ocon braked at the end of the main straight.

The moment that Esteban applied his brake and the DRS shut, the pink cover leapt from the car before floating to the side of the track. Leaving enough debris for a brief red flag.

When the session initially went green to start proceedings, it was Daniel Ricciardo who broke the silence as he hit the track straight away with a flow-vis run. Red Bull also informed their driver to avoid the kerbs, something which later pitched Vettel into a spin as he ran on the supersoft rubber.

For now, though, Valtteri Bottas was setting the initial pace on Pirelli’s yellow-walled soft tyres. Setting a 1:39.871, fast enough to edge Hamilton at first before the Briton improved to better by three-tenths.

The margin Hamilton created, however, was inferior to Vettel’s as the German took to the top by eight-tenths of a second. Laying down an initial challenge to the dominance in Russia by Mercedes.

Laps on supersoft rubber later into the session again laid down Ferrari’s challenge to Mercedes. As Kimi Raikkonen lapped four-hundredths faster than all, having seen Bottas again set the pace as he moved 1.6 seconds clear of Vettel.

When Hamilton set his initial time on the red-walled Pirelli’s, he came across the line six-tenths down on his team-mate despite setting the then fastest final sector time. Only later improving his overall time marginally as his Mercedes looked very unsettled under throttle application.

Pos Driver Team Engine Laps Time Gap
1 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari 19 1’36.074
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes Mercedes 24 1’36.119 0.045
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 23 1’36.681 0.607
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull TAG 19 1’37.174 1.1
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari 19 1’37.230 1.156
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull TAG 19 1’37.290 1.216
7 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 29 1’37.457 1.383
8 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes 29 1’37.900 1.826
9 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 30 1’37.944 1.87
10 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 28 1’38.065 1.991
11 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso Renault 17 1’38.496 2.422
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 23 1’38.747 2.673
13 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 16 1’38.813 2.739
14 Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso Renault 17 1’38.976 2.902
15 Jolyon Palmer Renault Renault 16 1’39.158 3.084
16 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 17 1’39.533 3.459
17 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Honda 19 1’39.541 3.467
18 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 21 1’39.731 3.657
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 20 1’40.079 4.005
20 Sergey Sirotkin Renault Renault 2 No time set