The weather played ball in both sessions, enabling everyone to get through their programmes, and there was a general surprise at the amount of grip for a first day. And even though Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo brought out the red flag with eight minutes to go in FP2 because of technical problems, only five minutes were lost. We take a team-by-team look at the early running in Russia…
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 42.376s, P2/1m 39.630s, P1
Nico Rosberg, 1m 42.311s, P1/1m 40.542s, P4
Hamilton was in tremendous form in the afternoon, and lapped eight-tenths faster than his closest rival. Rosberg tried what he described as a ‘creative’ set-up in that session, as an experiment that the team wanted to conduct, but said that it didn’t work.
Kevin Magnussen, 1m 43.026s, P5/1m 40.494s, P2
Jenson Button, 1m 42.507s, P3/1m 40.718s, P6
McLaren had a great day, one of their best of the season, with Button third to the Mercedes in FP1 and Magnussen splitting them in FP2. Both drivers said they got reasonable balance and good grip early on, and that the track felt better to drive in reality than it had in the simulator.
Fernando Alonso, 1m 42.720s, P4/1m 40.504s, P3
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 43.212s, P8/1m 41.630s, P11
Ferrari had no specific problems and Alonso in particular was delighted with the level of grip, but Raikkonen again complained that he couldn’t get his car’s front-end to work the way he likes.
Valtteri Bottas, 1m 43.542s, P10/1m 40.573s, P5
Felipe Massa, 1m 43.741s, P11/1m 40.731s, P7
Both drivers said they thought the track suited the FW36 and were generally happy with the balance and how things went, though Bottas had a problem in FP1 when his tyre warmers went wrong and overheated a set of hard tyres.
Daniil Kvyat, 1m 43.164s, P7/1m 41.108s, P8
Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 43.327s, P9/1m 41.531s, P10
Local hero Kvyat initially described his car’s behaviour as ‘lazy’ but was happier when it picked up grip as practice progressed. Both he and Vergne said they had got off to positive starts to the weekend.
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 44.506s, P14/1m 41.396s, P9
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 43.821s, P12/1m 42.061s, P13
Red Bull struggled badly in both sessions and were way off by their super-high standards. Both drivers said they lacked top speed and grip, and that the track wasn’t made for the RB10. They may have to sacrifice something in qualifying tomorrow as a result by focusing on race set-up to enable them to make some form of attack on Sunday afternoon. Ricciardo brought out the red flag for five minutes at the end of FP2, when his car stopped after its out-of-mileage engine shut itself down.
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 43.976s, P13/1m 41.677s, P12
Sergio Perez, 1m 43.129s, P6/1m 42.090s, P14
Force India were quite happy with a first day which, Hulkenberg said, ‘ticked all the boxes’. Unfortunately, however, he looks set for a five-place grid drop on Sunday thanks to an unscheduled gearbox change.
Romain Grosjean, 1m 45.190s, P18/1m 42.892s, P16
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 44.876s, P16/1m 42.905s, P17
Both drivers had busy days chasing set-up, but thought they were making progress by the end of practice.
Adrian Sutil, 1m 44.625s, P15/1m 41.233s, P15
Esteban Gutierrez (pm only), 1m 43.055s, P18
Sergey Sirotkin (am only), 1m 45.032s, P17
Sauber were happy with the job that Russian debutant Sirotkin did, and the intelligent manner in which he worked down to a time only four-tenths of a second off experienced team mate Sutil. The German and team mate Gutierrez said they liked the circuit, and were surprised by the amount of grip it offered.
Marcus Ericsson, 1m 46.922s, P20/1m 44.135s, P19
Kamui Kobayashi (pm only), 1m 44.952s, P21
Roberto Merhi (am only), 1m 46.782s, P19
Ericsson and Merhi waited for track conditions to improve in FP1 and missed the first half hour, then the Swede had a minor energy management problem, but otherwise it was a positive day for the team.
Max Chilton, 1m 47.284s, P21/1m 44.530s, P20
Marussia made the decision to run just one car after a lot of soul searching, believing it the best way to honour the injured Jules Bianchi and support his family. Psychologically it was a tough day for the team, but they got behind Chilton as they worked through all their programmes without any problems.