Lewis Hamilton set the pace in Free Practice Two at Sochi on Friday, but McLaren gave Mercedes something to think about.
Having finished second behind team-mate Nico Rosberg in FP1, the Championship pacesetter took over at the top as he produced a 1:39.630 on the soft compound during the second half an hour of the session, and his time was by far the best as no one else managed to go under 1:40.
Hamilton, though, was helped by the fact that Rosberg ran wide at Turn 17 – something which has caught out a lot of drivers – while on a flying lap when his soft tyres were still new. The German returned to the garage and the team took off the nose and made one or two tweaks to his car.
Rosberg was only fourth fastest in fact as Kevin Magnussen in the McLaren was third with a 1:40.494 while the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso was a mere 0.010s behind in third.
The McLarens and Ferraris were also up there in FP1 and they proved it was no fluke with Jenson Button down in sixth, but the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen had another difficult afternoon as he only managed a 1:41.
One person who did transform a nightmare first session into a positive FP2 was Valtteri Bottas. The Williams driver completed only nine laps earlier due to a tyre blanket failure, but he was up to fifth with his team-mate Felipe Massa two places lower.
Red Bull had a poor afternoon by contrast with Sebastian Vettel only ninth fastest while his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was 13th, but his afternoon came to a premature end as his RBR stopped on track with smoke coming out of the airbox and that resulted in a red flag.
Romain Grosjean was another who was left frustrated throughout with the Renault engine once again not providing enough power.
Meanwhile, Marussia’s sole driver Max Chilton was down in 20th, in between the Caterhams of Marcus Ericsson and Kamui Kobayashi. The Banbury-based squad are running only one car this weekend following Jules Bianchi’s accident in Suzuka.
01 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:39.630 27 laps
02 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:40.494 +0.864 32 laps
03 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:40.504 +0.874 32 laps
04 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:40.542 +0.912 30 laps
05 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:40.573 +0.943 33 laps
06 Jenson Button McLaren 1:40.718 +1.088 32 laps
07 Felipe Massa Williams 1:40.731 +1.101 30 laps
08 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:41.108 +1.478 32 laps
09 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:41.396 +1.766 30 laps
10 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:41.531 +1.901 33 laps
11 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:41.630 +2.000 24 laps
12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:41.677 +2.047 27 laps
13 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:42.061 +2.431 25 laps
14 Sergio Perez Force India 1:42.090 +2.460 29 laps
15 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:42.233 +2.603 31 laps
16 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:42.892 +3.262 30 laps
17 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:42.905 +3.275 33 laps
18 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:43.055 +3.425 33 laps
19 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:44.135 +4.505 22 laps
20 Max Chilton Marussia 1:44.530 +4.900 29 laps
21 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:44.952 +5.322 27 laps
Let’s Go Racing In Russia