Mercedes set a rather ominous tone for the weekend ahead in Sochi after dominating second practice for the Russian Grand Prix.
Valtteri Bottas secured a Friday practice double by topping the timesheet with a 1:33.519 in FP2, with Hamilton rising from his rather unrepresentative P19 on Friday morning to P2 and two tenths behind Bottas.
There was then quite a substantial gap to Daniel Ricciardo in P3, with Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris and Sergio Perez all able to be quicker than Max Verstappen down in P7.
Rounding out the top 10 were Charles Leclerc, Esteban Ocon and Sebastian Vettel.
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) September 25, 2020
The start of FP2 was a much more calm and tranquil affair compared to the incident-packed FP1. After the first 30 minutes of the session, it was a familiar Mercedes 1-2 at the head of the pack with less than a tenth separating Hamilton and Bottas.
The Brit was top with a 1:33.786 and the gap to the rest was a whopping 1.5 seconds. However, Daniel Ricciardo, in P3, was on the medium tyres during his opening stint.
Bottas then found further improvement on his second run, eclipsing Hamilton’s time by a couple of tenths despite a scruffy final sector. The benchmark was now 1:33.519.
Hamilton, meanwhile, would have a nervy moment on his latest push lap.
Lewis Hamilton locks up! ⚠️
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 25, 2020
After the first qualy sims of FP2, Verstappen, who has downplayed Red Bull’s chances of success at Sochi this weekend, found himself P6 behind the Renault of Ricciardo, Norris’ McLaaren and the Racing Point of Sergio Perez. He would eventually drop to P7.
Ricciardo managed to narrow the gap slightly to Mercedes but was still over a second behind in P3. Verstappen’s uncomfortable FP2 continued with a lock up and spin at Turn 14 which drew a few curse words from the Dutchman.
During the last 35 minutes of the session, attention turned away from the track and the race sim runs towards the Formula 1 boardroom as ex-Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali was officially confirmed as Chase Carey’s replacement as CEO.
Domenicali will officially begin his new role on January 1 and Carey will step into a non-executive chairman role.
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:33.519 35 laps
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 0.267s 33
3 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1.058s 25
4 Carlos Sainz McLaren 1.204s 34
5 Lando Norris McLaren 1.328s 32
6 Sergio Perez Racing Point 1.371s 33
7 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1.529s 29
8 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1.533s 33
9 Esteban Ocon Renault 1.620s 26
10 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1.664s 34
11 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1.691s 33
12 Alex Albon Red Bull 1.723s 30
13 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri 1.942s 35
14 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 1.997s 32
15 Nicholas Latifi Williams 2.044s 29
16 George Russell Williams 2.056s 28
17 Lance Stroll Racing Point 2.108s 33
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas 2.210s 30
19 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 2.534s 34
20 Romain Grosjean Haas 3.339s 32