Valtteri Bottas set the early pace in an eventful first practice session at the Russian Grand Prix. The Finn would post a 1m34.923s early on, using the soft compound tyre, and that would go unbeaten until the end thanks to a series of events.
Two would be disruptions due to collisions with the barriers as first Carlos Sainz damaged his rear wing after losing the rear in Turn 7, requiring a Virtual Safety Car to clear the debris. Then, Nicholas Latifi would have a bigger crash at Turn 10 with a red flag needed to recover his Williams.
The first incident meant Lewis Hamilton didn’t set a representative lap time on his first set of tyres, then, after the mid-session change, he would ruin his second set on the first timed lap with a big lock-up into Turn 2.
Limited to just a handful of laps on the damaged rubber late on then, the six-time world champion ended FP1 down in 19th place, but given the chance then to get an upper hand on his teammate in terms of running, Bottas couldn’t capitalise as he too damaged his front-left into Turn 13, leaving both Merc’s in the pits for much of the morning.
Still, no-one could get close to Valtteri’s initial lap-time with Daniel Ricciardo half a second down in P2, a tenth clear of former teammate Max Verstappen in third.