Formula 1 Russia: Mercedes Dominate FP2, Engine Change for Verstappen
The Silver Arrows conclude their Friday with another 1-2 as Pierre Gasly completes the top 3.
The second free practice session comes to an end with Bottas leading Hamilton again, while Pierre Gasly caught some eyes by setting the 3rd fastest time in his AlphaTauri. The Frenchman set his fastest time on medium compounds – the same set Mercedes used in their respective fast laps, although his session ended abruptly as he lost his front wing after running over a kerb. Lando Norris set the 4th fastest time running soft tyres, half a second off the pace.
Esteban Ocon’s 5th place finish made it four teams in the top five, placing his Alpine two tenths clear of Max Verstappen in 6th. Verstappen ran a different program compared to most other drivers as Red Bull elected to have his engine changed over the weekend, in order to serve his engine penalty alongside his 3-place grid penalty he earned at previous race. The Dutchman can afford to run more soft tyres that he won’t need for qualifying, and will use the remainder of the weekend to focus on setting up his car for the raceday, where he will start on the back of the grid and therefore need to make up ground.
Carlos Sainz finished as the fastest Ferrari in 7th, ahead of his compatriot Fernando Alonso on the Alpine. Sebastian Vettel ends the day in 9th, six places clear of his teammate Lance Stroll. Lastly, Charles Leclerc rounds off the top ten. The Monegasque man is running an upgraded power unit for Ferrari to test, a move which will trigger a back of the grid start. He will start the race ahead of Verstappen as long as he does not gain additional penalties enough to exceed the Dutchman’s grid drop amount.
The second practice was somewhat eventful compared to the first, with several notable incidents taking place including a short red flag period. The interruption was caused by Antonio Giovinazzi spinning to the barriers, destroying his rear wing and scattering debris on the track surface. He ended 14th, two places behind his teammate Kimi Raikkonen. Daniel Ricciardo had a stressful afternoon as well, losing half the session to an engine change and eventually setting a time only good enough for 17th. Lewis Hamilton had a largely straightforward afternoon, until he overshot his pitbox and knocked his front jackman over in the process. Fortunately he was unhurt, with Hamilton apologizing on the team radio and asking if he was fine.
Featured Image – Mercedes AMG Petronas