Sebastian Vettel takes first free practice session ahead of Max Verstappen in Sochi
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News September 28, 2018 Updated: 5:12 AM PT
SOCHI, Russia — Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel took the fastest time in the opening practice of the Russian Grand Prix. It is a critically important weekend for the four-time champion who enters the weekend 40 points behind title rival Lewis Hamilton in the championship.
Vettel finished with a time of 1:34.488 on the hyper-soft tire ahead of the Red Bull of Max
Verstappen who finished 0.050s off Vettel’s time in second. Verstappen along with a number of other drivers face a tough weekend after taking on new power unit elements which will result in penalties.
Lewis Hamilton finished his fasted time on the soft tire which looks to be the tire of choice for the race. Hamilton had an off tracking moment when he went straight in to the runoff area at Turn 2.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo finished fourth but will start Sunday's race from the back of the grid once his penalties are applied.
Esteban Ocon finished sixth for Racing Point Force India followed by Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari, who posted his fastest time on the purple-striped ultra-soft tire in seventh.
Haas’ Kevin Magnussen finished eighth with Nico Hulkenberg ending the morning in ninth. But, Hulkenberg ran until trouble during the session when the team discovered an exhaust leak on his Renault.
Antonio Giovinazzi filled in for Marcus Ericsson who will take over in the afternoon. Giovinazzi is set to replace Ericsson next season at Sauber. He finished tenth.
Magnussen’s Haas teammate Romain Grosjean finished 11th ahead of The Toro Rosso of Pierre Gasly in 12th.
The morning gave a number of young drivers the opportunity to participate in the session.
2017 European Formula 3 Champion Lando Norris filled in for Fernando Alonso and finished 13th for McLaren as he prepares to replace Stoffel Vandoorne next season. Charles Leclerc finished 14th in the second Sauber ahead of Russian driver Artem Markelov who participated in his first free practice session, finishing 15th for Renault .
Belgian driver Stoffel Vandoorne finished 16th in the second McLaren followed by Force India development driver Nicholas Latifi in 17th.
Sergey Sirotkin, who is hoping to put on a good performance for his home crowd this weekend, finished 18th ahead of Brendon Hartley who split the two Williams in 19th. Lance Stroll took the final spot on the timesheet in 20th.