Sebastian Vettel topped the charts in Friday’s practice for the Russian GP, edging out Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas.
Sebastian Vettel: “I think we improved so I can be reasonably happy but not entirely. We had a tough start this morning and it took a while to increase speed. I am sure we can still do more. I think this is a circuit where you need to feel confident. There’s a lot of corners that look all the same on paper, they feel similar in the car, but then it’s quite tricky to get everything right. I wish they planted more trees next to the track so that you could have more references! But it’s tricky and that’s why you need to get into the rhythm. I struggled a bit in the morning but I think we understood what we need. We always fight for the pole position, that’s, for sure but on paper this track looks like a Mercedes one. They didn’t show everything today and didn’t get their lap together. So we’ll see.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “It’s been a nice Friday, things ran smoothly and we had no issues. I’m happy with the car, I had a nice feeling straight away and it’s always more fun when it goes like that. So far so good; but it’s only Friday and we have no idea what the others are doing, but we started well and I’m quite happy. We’ll try to make a good day tomorrow and then we’ll go from there.”
Valtteri Bottas: “It’s been an interesting day. It’s a very different situation here with the asphalt and the temperatures compared to what we experienced in Bahrain. We were learning about the tyres on long runs and short runs and it seems like over one lap we still have work to do to get the maximum out of the UltraSoft tyre – that’s our focus tonight. But we can’t forget how important the race is. We have started the weekend in the right way. The car feels good and the balance is there. A good start but we definitely need to work hard to find some lap time for qualifying.”
Lewis Hamilton: “Bit of a difficult day for us. We managed to complete everything that we needed to do on our runs, but in terms of the balance of the car, the Ferrari seemed very, very fast on the long runs, so we need to work out how we can improve our pace. But there’s still everything to play for. The tyres feel very peaky, so it’s easy to drop out of the window of performance. But when they’re working they seem to be good.”
Max Verstappen: “We ended up stopping sooner than planned due to a problem with the fuel pressure. It was a bit of a shame as it prevented us doing a long run but luckily Daniel did one so we at least have some data to look into for Sunday. This track is not one of our favourites, we knew coming here it was going to be a tough weekend so we will just try to make the best of it. The gap to Mercedes and Ferrari looks bigger here because of the long straight; and we are down on power and downforce which makes not only the straights but also the corners tricky. I think qualifying will be interesting due to the challenge of warming the tyres up, and it’s the same for everyone so putting in one perfect lap won’t be easy. Realistically fifth and sixth is our aim for Sunday.”
Daniel Ricciardo: “We had some good signs throughout the day while we experienced some drops among the peaks. I was pretty happy with the car on the supersoft tyre but we didn’t find as much time as the others on the ultrasoft so that’s a tyre we need to work on a bit. The balance with the supersoft was good so I think if we can manage to get the same feeling with the ultrasoft tomorrow then we should be looking ok. This afternoon it was also easier to get the tyres up to temperature so I think if the weather stays the same tomorrow that should not be too much of an issue. People keep asking about the upgrades coming in Barcelona but first we need to maximise what we have with the current car and package here this weekend. We can definitely make improvements for tomorrow but as far as positions go in qualifying we are still behind Mercedes and Ferrari, so I don’t think the picture will change too much between the top teams and I would say Ferrari look the best after today’s running.”