Valtteri Bottas maintained his domination of Friday practice at the Russian Grand Prix in the second session, putting Mercedes atop the time sheet by more than a second ahead of any other car in Sochi.
The Finn’s fastest time of 1m33.519s was 0.267s quicker than second-placed teammate Lewis Hamilton and almost 1.1s faster than Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo in third. Both Mercedes set their fastest laps in the first half-hour of the session despite the circuit improving as it was cleaned up though the 90 minutes.
The power-sensitive Sochi Autodrom was expected to suit the Mercedes car and its powerful engine, and the W11 looked competitive on all three tires over longer stints as well as over a single lap.
Of further concern for Mercedes’s rivals is that there appeared more time left on the table for the reigning Constructors champion. Hamilton was set to improve on his fastest time after a cool-down lap on his used soft tires but locked up at Turn 13, spoiling the effort. That allowed Bottas to seize the fastest time, though the final sector of his fastest lap was also scrappy, a common problem in Sochi where keeping the rear tires from overheating through the first two sectors is critical to extracting time at the final split.
Untidiness was the general theme of the afternoon for Mercedes and others, with the dusty street track tripping up drivers through the order and triggering lock-ups aplenty.
Carlos Sainz recovered from his crash in FP1 to set the fourth-fastest time for McLaren. He was 1.2s off the pace and a tenth quicker than teammate Lando Norris.
Sergio Perez was the quickest Racing Point driver despite running an old-specification aerodynamic package. The Mexican was 1.3s adrift of Bottas but 0.7s quicker than teammate Stroll in the updated machine, who ended 17th after a spin early in the session.
Max Verstappen was seventh on a difficult afternoon for Red Bull Racing. The Dutchman downplayed his team’s chances ahead of the weekend and struggled to extract substantial pace from his package, with a wide moment at turn two and a 360-degree spin at Turn 14 defining his day.
Charles Leclerc was eighth for Ferrari, the Monegasque putting the team’s latest aerodynamic updates to good use to end 1.5s off the pace. Renault’s Esteban Ocon separated him from teammate Sebastian Vettel in 10th.
AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly was 11th ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Alex Albon, the Thai driver five places but only 0.2s behind Max Verstappen in the sister car. Daniil Kvyat followed in the second AlphaTauri ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen.
Nicholas Latifi rebounded from his session-ending smash in FP1 to end second practice 15th and 0.012 quicker than Williams teammate George Russell in 16th.
Stroll was 17th for Racing Point ahead of Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean in 18th and 20th, the teammates split by Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi.