Vettel leads close opening session in Sochi | 2018 Russian Grand Prix first practice

Sebastian Vettel was quickest in the first practice session for the Russian Grand Prix but Red Bull and Mercedes also put in competitive showings.

Vettel was only five-hundredths of a second faster than Max Verstappen following their runs on the hyper-soft tyres. Both Red Bull drivers, however, will have to take grid penalties on Sunday after fitting new engines for this weekend’s race.

Lewis Hamilton was three-tenths of a second slower in third place but his set his time on the soft tyres: the hardest rubber available this weekend, three ‘stages’ harder than Vettel’s hyper-softs. Hamilton’s lap time compared particularly favourably to Vettel’s in the final sector, though several drivers on hyper-softs found the tyres began to wilt by the end of the lap.

While Vettel stuck to the hyper-softs throughout the session, Kimi Raikkonen switched to ultra-softs for his second run and ended up seventh-quickest. Esteban Ocon’s Force India pipped him to sixth place behind Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo.

The top 10 was completed by Kevin Magnussen, Nico Hulkenberg – who pitted before the end of the session with a technical problem on his Renault – and Sauber’s recently-announced 2019 driver Antonio Giovinazzi. The latter was one of four test drivers in action during the session.

The others included Giovinazzi’s fellow 2019 driver Lando Norris, who had a brief spin in Fernando Alonso’s McLaren on his way to 13th place. Artem Markelov increased the contingent of Russian drivers on the track at their home race to two but was the best part of a second off Hulkenberg in 15th. And Nicholas Latifi returned for Force India, ending up 17th.

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First practice visual gaps

Sebastian Vettel – 1’34.488

+0.050 Max Verstappen – 1’34.538

+0.330 Lewis Hamilton – 1’34.818

+0.511 Valtteri Bottas – 1’34.999

+1.036 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’35.524

+1.175 Esteban Ocon – 1’35.663

+1.208 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’35.696

+1.708 Kevin Magnussen – 1’36.196

+1.786 Nico Hulkenberg – 1’36.274

+2.224 Antonio Giovinazzi – 1’36.712

+2.328 Romain Grosjean – 1’36.816

+2.456 Pierre Gasly – 1’36.944

+2.534 Lando Norris – 1’37.022

+2.566 Charles Leclerc – 1’37.054

+2.695 Artem Markelov – 1’37.183

+2.699 Stoffel Vandoorne – 1’37.187

+2.718 Nicholas Latifi – 1’37.206

+2.737 Sergey Sirotkin – 1’37.225

+3.456 Brendon Hartley – 1’37.944

+4.649 Lance Stroll – 1’39.137

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

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2018 Russian Grand Prix

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