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FP1: Vettel heads opening session in Sochi

  • Published on 28 Sep 2018 11:30
  • comments 0
  • By: Fergal Walsh

Sebastian Vettel has topped the first practice session in Russia, setting a best lap time of 1:34.488 The German will be hoping to take the spoils this weekend as he looks into eating away at Lewis Hamilton's championship lead. 

Red Bull will be encouraged by its early pace, as Max Verstappen ended the session just half a tenth of a second behind Vettel. However, Daniel Ricciardo's session was less impressive, as he was forced to take off his helmet early as his car was hit with issues.

Both Red Bull's will start the race from towards the back of the field as they revert to Renault's 'spec B' engine. Smoke was spotted billowing from the rear of Ricciardo's car as he came back into the pits after a run, but Ricciardo says that the mechanic's extensive work on the following the smoke was just a precaution.

Mercedes ended the session in third and fourth, with championship leader Lewis Hamilton leading his teammate Valtteri Bottas. Ricciardo ended up behind the Silver Arrows duo.

Esteban Ocon showed impressive pace in his Force India, finishing the session ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in seventh place. Kevin Magnussen, who was confirmed as a Haas driver for 2019 this morning, set the eighth fastest time of the ninety-minute session.

Nico Hulkenberg was ninth, however Renault came over the radio towards the end of the session telling the German that there was an issue with the car. Behind Hulkenberg in P10 was Antonio Giovinazzi in the Sauber, who will line-up full time for the Swiss squad next year.

Giovinazzi was the only junior free practice driver that managed to get inside the top ten. Lando Norris, who will race with McLaren alongside Carlos Sainz next year was P13, and was lucky to avoid the barriers after a spin early in the session.

Artem Markelov was P15 in the Renault, ahead of the outgoing McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne and Force India's Nicolas Latifi, who took over Sergio Perez's car for the morning outing.

Photos Russia 2018

RU Sochi Autodrom - 28 September 2018

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