Vettel in front of Verstappen and Hamilton in FP1 in Sochi

Vettel in front of Verstappen and Hamilton in FP1 in Sochi

Russian Grand prix, Sochi, Sochi Circuit, Sochi Autodrom
photo: Pirelli

Sebastian Vettel was fastest in the first Friday free practice for the Formula 1 2018 Russian Grand prix. The Ferrari driver’s best time was 1:34.488min. Max Verstappen with Red Bull was second, at just 0.050sec. Lewis Hamilton was third fastest, at 0.330sec.

Vettel and both Red Bull drivers – Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo – made stints only with the hypersoft tyres. They are the softest compound which Pirelli gives to the F1 teams for the weekend in Sochi. Ferrari had split its program so Kimi Raikkonen had stints with ultrasoft. Meanwhile, the Mercedes drivers Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas tried only ultrasoft and soft but had no laps with the hypersoft.

Drivers experiences higher than expected degradation with the tyres which are the softest compounds in the 2018 Pirelli range. Charles Leclerc, for example, complained that he was struggling a lot. The answer from the Sauber pitwall was that he was losing time only in the last sector. There traction is most important so the fast degradation influenced especially the rear tyres.

There were no serious incidents during the session except a couple of offs.