Leclerc leads the way in FP1
Charles Leclerc during the first practice session in Russia. (Photo credit: Charles Coates, Getty images)

Leclerc leads the way in FP1

A rejuvenated Ferrari team topped the time-screens once again in Russia, with Charles Leclerc top of the charts ahead of Max Verstappen's Red Bull.

matthewwatkinson
Matthew Watkinson

After revealing that he ‘regrets’ his behaviour in the Singapore GP, Charles Leclerc did his talking on the track this time out and he clinched top spot on yet another race weekend session, at the Russian Grand Prix.

His teammate Sebastian Vettel who picked up his first win of the season last time out finished behind Leclerc and Max Verstappen in third, but his pace was promising ahead of both Mercedes and Alex Albon’s Red Bull.

On a track where they boast an unbeaten record Mercedes look to have their work cut out once again and after ending the session in fourth and fifth, they will likely be in the battle for pole, but Ferrari set the pace yet again.

The fastest of the Mercedes was Valtteri Bottas who had an issue with his rear wing failing to close late in the session.

The Silver Arrows tested the harder compound tyres ahead of a race that may demand the use of hard tyres.

Honda engine troubles return

Both Red Bull’s and Toro Rosso’s will take five-place grid penalties ahead of the race, with Daniil Kvyat having further penalties with a brand-new power unit required meaning the Russian at his home race will start from the rear of the field.

In a nightmare scenario in FP1, Kvyat grinded to a half causing doubled waved yellow flags after his Toro Rosso broke down early in the session. The deflated Russian said, “It’s gone guys. I’m sorry.”

The Russians teammate, Pierre Gasly, ended the session in 12th as the only Toro Rosso left in the session after his teammate’s retirement.

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Ricciardo in the barriers, but Renault strong

As the session reached its climax, Daniel Ricciardo had to return to the pitlane but a spin into the barriers at Turn 10 meant he limped back to the pitlane with his rear wing hanging by a thread.

Prior to Ricciardo’s mistake the two Renaults were best of the rest in seventh and eighth, with Nico Hulkenberg the leading driver, half a second ahead of his teammate.

Rounding out the top ten was the Racing Point of Sergio Perez in ninth after boasting further upgrades ahead of the race this weekend, with newly re-signed Haas driver Romain Grosjean trailing the Mexican.

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Rest of the pack

McLaren couldn’t match rivals Renault with Carlos Sainz the highest of their two drivers in 11th with Lando Norris failing to get to grips with the track in 16th.

Antonio Giovinazzi struggled after having an early spin at Turn 4 and could only manage 17th place behind his teammate Kimi Raikkonen in 15th.

Not many tracks suit the Williams, and this is another that doesn’t, as their two drivers George Russell and Robert Kubica finished 18th and 20th respectively.

Kubica has been awarded a grid penalty for taking on a new internal combustion engine, turbo charger and MGU-H, and will start from the back as was likely to be the case for the struggling Pole.

 

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