The Mercedes team took the top positions in the opening free practice session of the Russian Grand Prix, with Valtteri Bottas ahead of Lewis Hamilton, while Spaniards Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) and Fernando Alonso (Alpine) started seventh and tenth , respectively.
Mercedes is the historical dominator at the Sochi circuit, where it has always won in the seven previous editions of the event, and continued its good feelings in the search for the eighth consecutive victory on the shores of the Black Sea.
With the sun shining without a single cloud, before the rain that is expected to fall for the rest of the weekend, Bottas, double winner in Russia (2017 and 2020), stopped the clock at 1: 34.427. The Finn outscored the great title contenders Hamilton and Max Verstappen by two tenths. In this first round after their scuffle in Monza, where they collided with each other, the Dutchman was only 16 thousandths behind the British.
Already with almost seven tenths losses was Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), fourth classified. The Monegasque premiered the new power unit of the ‘Scuderia’ and knew how to take advantage of it to beat his teammate Carlos Sainz, who lost 1.3 seconds compared to the leader.
Ahead of the Madrid.born Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) and Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri) finished fifth and sixth, respectively, while Fernando Alonso closed the ‘Top 10’ behind Lando Norris (McLaren), eighth, and Sergio Pérez ( Red Bull), ninth. The second free practice session will begin at 2:00 p.m. Spanish time.