There was a rush to get out of the pit lane as FP1 began in Russia on Friday morning – and it was all down to engine penalties…
Five drivers – Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly, and McLaren's Fernando Alonso - are changing multiple power unit elements for this race, incurring an automatic grid drop in the process.
But with all five drivers doing so at the same time, the order they will line up on the grid is determined by when those new elements are first used on track.
That led to a ‘race’ onto the track in Sochi, which was won by Lando Norris - McLaren’s newly announced 2019 driver, deputising for Fernando Alonso in FP1 - meaning the Spaniard, who will reclaim his cockpit in time for FP2, will start ahead of Ricciardo, Verstappen, Gasly and Hartley.
All five drivers have taken a new engine, turbo, MGU-H and MGU-K, while Verstappen and Alonso have also taken new control electronics and energy stores. Hartley will also run with new control electronics.
Both Red Bull drivers are reverting to new versions of Renault’s spec-B engine, rather than the spec-C used in recent races. Both Toro Rossos, meanwhile, are being fitted with revised Honda units as the Japanese manufacturer looks at giving the team ‘more performance in the long term’.