Formula 1, Russian Grand Prix, Qualifying LIVE: Saturday 10pm AEST —
The Mercedes duo of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton topped their rivals by over a second on Friday practice, but promised even more improvements heading into Saturday’s qualifying on a track the team has never lost a race.
But a brilliant Friday for Daniel Ricciardo saw him finish second behind Bottas in FP1 before claiming third behind the Mercedes pair in FP2.
The Australian has never qualified higher than fifth at the track, while his best race finish in Sochi is seventh.
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“It was a messy day with a lot of interruptions,” said Bottas. “Lots of red flags and quite limited running, so I am sure we have a lot more to come,” he added.
“I don’t feel like I was particularly quick,” said six-time champion Lewis Hamilton.
Since the Sochi circuit made its debut in 2014, Mercedes has won every event – four wins for Hamilton, a maiden win for Bottas in 2017, and Nico Rosberg in 2016 en route to his world championship.
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Ricciardo said he was facing a tough task to hold onto his high placing in qualifying, on a track where he has typically struggled to perform. But he credited ‘homework’ as helping his improvements this year.
“It was probably the first time I’ve ever really been hooked up around here,” he said Ricciardo after Friday’s sessions. “It felt good! The first run this morning … I was on it, and stayed on it for the rest of the day, so really happy with another good Friday.
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“[The car] was good really out of the box, we didn’t make too many changes today,” he added. “I did quite a bit of … homework, let’s say, after last year. I was a bit off the pace and trying to understand what we could do, and I think with myself and then changing the car a little bit more to suit what I felt I missed last year, we’re in a good place.”
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