Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, Sochi Autodrom, 2015

Hulkenberg on top after spillage delays practice

2015 Russian Grand Prix first practice

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Nico Hulkenberg headed a first practice session which saw very little running at all until the final quarter of an hour.

A substantial diesel spillage between turns seven and ten meant the first half hour passed with no cars lapping at all while marshals worked to clean the track surface.

The large amount of water used to clear the track meant most drivers initially used intermediate tyres to carry out their installation laps. The Williams drivers even used full wet weather rubber, but Valtteri Bottas nearly spun his car as he braked for the tight pit lane entrance.

Nico Rosberg took advantage of the opportunity to conduct as many practice starts as he could before the clutch on his Mercedes began to overheat. Later in the session the track dried enough for drivers to switch to dry-weather tyres.

Fernando Alonso was the first to do so and the McLaren driver headed the times until the remaining drivers gradually took to the track.

In the final minutes to Sochi Autodrom buzzed with activity, though an engine problem sidelined Marcus Ericsson as he tried to leave the pits at one stage.

The Mercedes drivers were among the last to set times. Lewis Hamilton had to take avoiding action as Felipe Massa’s Williams spun in front of him, only for the Mercedes driver to also lose his car at the end of the lap.

Nico Hulkenberg was on top as the session came to an end, despite the Force India driver having reported a problem with his MGU-K only working intermittently.

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
127Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’44.35511
26Nico RosbergMercedes1’44.4070.05215
35Sebastian VettelFerrari1’44.9860.63115
411Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’45.1460.79111
53Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-Renault1’45.2330.87810
655Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso-Renault1’45.4881.13313
744Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’45.6911.33610
877Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1’45.7461.39113
933Max VerstappenToro Rosso-Renault1’46.2031.84813
107Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’46.2151.86016
1122Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Honda1’46.2311.87612
1219Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1’46.3331.97812
1312Felipe NasrSauber-Ferrari1’46.7472.39213
1414Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Honda1’47.4433.08816
1513Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Mercedes1’48.0063.6519
1626Daniil KvyatRed Bull-Renault1’48.0963.7419
1730Jolyon PalmerLotus-Mercedes1’49.0944.7399
1898Roberto MerhiManor-Ferrari1’52.9948.63912
199Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’54.2729.91712
2028Will StevensManor-Ferrari1’58.25413.8996

First practice visual gaps

Nico Hulkenberg – 1’44.355

+0.052 Nico Rosberg – 1’44.407

+0.631 Sebastian Vettel – 1’44.986

+0.791 Sergio Perez – 1’45.146

+0.878 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’45.233

+1.133 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’45.488

+1.336 Lewis Hamilton – 1’45.691

+1.391 Valtteri Bottas – 1’45.746

+1.848 Max Verstappen – 1’46.203

+1.860 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’46.215

+1.876 Jenson Button – 1’46.231

+1.978 Felipe Massa – 1’46.333

+2.392 Felipe Nasr – 1’46.747

+3.088 Fernando Alonso – 1’47.443

+3.651 Pastor Maldonado – 1’48.006

+3.741 Daniil Kvyat – 1’48.096

+4.739 Jolyon Palmer – 1’49.094

+8.639 Roberto Merhi – 1’52.994

+9.917 Marcus Ericsson – 1’54.272

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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30 comments on “Hulkenberg on top after spillage delays practice”

  1. I understand that it actually was hydraulic oil from a track cleaning truck that spilled out on the track, guess Putin will have to fire some people to get over that embarresment.

    Shame the track got faster in the end, would have been fun to see McLaren top a session 1-2 this season. Then again, it was also good to see that Hulk was as fast as the Williams cars, possibly about the same as Ferrari and not far behind the Mercedes, that means we might get a bit more action through the field than we had last year.

    1. ? Hulkenburg was faster than Ferrari and Merc. Although going on this years form I would not be surprised if you assertion on the competitive order is correct but on the evidence of this practice session which was the 1st of the weekend and so compressed the order is what it is and there is no evidence yet that Merc is fastest.

      1. yeah, but Hamilton spinned, Ferrari ran a bit earlier with a track that was clearly drying up and getting faster. Or do you think the FI is currently faster than both the Mercedes and Ferrari cars?

        I think that we should rather see it as all these cars being reasonably close to eachother when they run in the same conditions.

  2. No Will Stevens in the chart.

    1. ColdFly F1 (@)
      9th October 2015, 10:16

      footnote to chart: “Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.”

  3. All the Germans occupying top three spots led by the guy with weird Loki-like hairdo . That doesn’t happen everyday. Weird session I must say.

  4. It was fun to watch towards the end as drivers were spinning around or going off the track….

    1. Sprinklers… :)

  5. Force India could be quicker than Williams this weekend.

    1. It’s a bit bash to say that after one practice session where no-one set really representative times and all sorts of people had spins and off-track excursions.

  6. Vandoorne’s fastest lap in FP in his GP2-car was 2 sec faster than Alonso’s best lap lol

    1. Well if what Alonso says about having a GP2 engine is right they should replace him if he’s two seconds slower!!!

  7. Didn’t hulk give away free practise 1? Too much, he said πŸ˜‰

  8. At the risk of becoming repetitive, today showed once more that F1 could do without FP1. It’s not adding value to the show.
    I’m aware the circumstances on-track were the reason for teams not running as much as usual, but it goes to show they don’t really need FP1 to do preparation work. When push comes to shove they’ll all be fine come qualifying.
    You could say “don’t watch if you’re not interested”, but my point is, if F1 so desperately want to save money, they could easily reduce practice rather than putting in place these ridiculous development restrictions and reach their money-saving goals that way. It might increase running in FP2 and FP3 as well, making it more worthwhile watching. Increasing quality over quantity basically.

    1. Reducing practice is fine until you turn up to a track without any & suddenly go into the race discovering big problems with the tyres, track or a component of a car.

      Look at the 2005 USGP as an example, It was thanks to the number of laps they got in Friday practice that Michelin discovered there tyres were basically unsafe. Had there been no Friday running & less before qualifying on Saturday we would have gone into that race unaware the tyres were flawed & the results would have been far worse than what happened at Silverstone a few years ago.

      And as Paul Di Resta said during the sky broadcast, All cutting practice would do is give the teams with the best simulation tools a massive advantage over the mid-field/back of grid teams who rely on track time rather than pre-weekend simulations to get there cars sorted.

      1. On the contrary, there would have still been a big crash for Ralf as happened, but with a safety car or red flag in the race, and at least there would have been a race/half race as opposed to a 6 car shambles.

        1. On the contrary, there would have still been a big crash for Ralf as happened, but with a safety car or red flag in the race

          Difference would be that in a race there’s no time to look at the data & figure out the cause so while Ralf or someone else would have suffered a failure that would have caused a SC without knowing the cause was a tyre design problem the race would have restarted & its likely we would have seen further failures/accidents through the race.

          At Indy 2005 Michelin only discovered there was a real problem after Friday practice when they examined all there tyres as well as Ralf’s damaged tyre through the night & it wasn’t apparent how serious an issue it was until the following day.

          What happened that day was a farce & without Friday practice we may have got to see a race, But it would have been a far more dangerous situation if we had gone into that race not knowing the problem & suffering a few big crashes at one of the fastest tracks with the least runoff in use at the time.

    2. Cutting FP1 isn’t going to save significant amounts of money relative to the total spend of an F1 team. They’ve already flown all the kit and crew there, and some of the work that would normally happen in FP1 would instead take place during other practice sessions.

      What’s the cost of FP1? Tyres? Fuel? Lubricant?

      It just isn’t an issue. The majority of people who watch an F1 race on TV have little or no interest in any of the pre-race sessions. A few more will watch qualifying but still far fewer than the actual race. Just let them get on with it and allow them the best opportunity to deliver the best possible race – the product that most people watch. If the race has a better chance of being better with more practice then let them do it.

      If teams really do want to save money then nobody is forcing them to take part in FP 1…

      1. @gregkingston

        Just let them get on with it and allow them the best opportunity to deliver the best possible race – the product that most people watch. If the race has a better chance of being better with more practice then let them do it

        I would say the opposite is true: less practice means less predictable races as there is a chance of quick cars being out of position.

    3. they don’t really need FP1 to do preparation work

      So where are they to do prep work?

      In season testing was stopped to cut costs. One of the benefits was that all testing needed to be done at the event, in practice sessions. So fans actually got to see it, both at the track and on TV, if they want.

      Teams need some time to test out new ideas, especially the poorer teams who have less or no access to wind tunnels and/or simulators. If you take away more practice sessions, you would actually hand more of an advantage to the top teams, and reduce the ability for teams to improve their cars.

    4. @me4me, One solution could be that it is made mandatory for every team to let their junior drivers or reserve drivers drive in FP1. This way smaller teams will get few extra $$ which would help them financially and junior drivers will get seat time. Win win situation for both teams and drivers.

      Also for us fans, we could see young talent driving the cars.

      1. Agree. 3 sessions – 1 hour each, first one for juniors, latter two for race drivers. We’ve seen Palmer, Marciello, Leimer and Wolff this year in FP1s – but that could have easily included Magnussen, Gutierrez, Wehrlein, Gasly, Lynn, Felix da Costa/Buemi, Rossi, Ocon etc. @mjf1fan

        1. All well saying let the young drivers have a go until one of them stuff’s the car in the wall & one of the race drivers has the rest of there weekend affected as a result of it.

          I personally want to see as much running with the race drivers as possible. When I attend an F1 weekend I don’t want to sit in the stands all day just to see the race drivers for an hour. I want to see my favorite drivers out on track as much as possible, Cutting practice time for race drivers would offer fans far less value & less opportunity to see the drivers they went to the track to watch be out on track!

          1. PeterG, even race drivers can have accidents and their weekend will also be affected by their crash. Its not like they dont crash. I understand if a young driver bins the car, race drivers would be feeling a bit bitter about it. But they got to trust the team and the driver driving their car.

            Even I would want to see more running by drivers in FP sessions. But they hardly do any running in FP1. So instead of sitting idle on track/in front of tv, we could possibly see young ones going around the track and rubbering it in.

            As for fans receiving far less value for their money, its personal opinion and I respect yours. For me, watching young exciting talents along with regular race drivers will provide more satisfaction :)

            @fastiesty +1.

    5. @me4me

      today showed once more that F1 could do without FP1.

      And I guess today also showed once again we can do without FP2s. And Japan showed with Lotus that we can do without hospitality suites. There are hundreds of things F1 could do without when push comes to shove, but are those ideal situations?

      It’s true FP1 has little impact on the race for THAT specific weekend. But it’s the practice session where teams will bolt on bits and pieces of new body work to see how they work, to see how they correlate to the wind tunnel and simulations. This allows teams to improve their cars over the course of the season and also to start trying out bits that will go on next season’s cars. For instance, in Spa they’ll put on wings they may run in Monza.

      The discussion then isn’t about FP1 or not, it’s whether any on track testing is ever required. There are those who think all designs can be done exclusively with computer models, and that all race set ups, etc only need to be done running simulations with only the briefest time on track (though in engineering terms, a 90 minute session is incredibly short).

      At that point, why even spend money traveling the world? Every team could just have two simulators and the race would be run on some F1 server. Not only would teams save money, but it would be much safer and no need for closed cockpits. That sounds absurd, but why not? Where do we draw the line?

      It’s funny that fans are commenting on whether there should be FP1 or if sessions should be shorter, as if money is coming out of their pockets. For the fans who don’t care about practice sessions, don’t watch. For fans that enjoy the technological battle of F1, watch the free practices. And for those who can’t handle no cars running for longer stretches of time, in the famous words of Lewis Hamilton – get over it.

      I can image folks talking about the Tour de France this way – the stages are so long, most of it is boring with no action, and the few breakaways that happen, they get caught anyway. Let’s cut races in half, keep it at a 2 hour time limit – heck it works for F1 races, why not the le Tour? And let’s not even talk about Football – they run for 90 minutes, when they are falling down, for what? 20 or 30 seconds of actual action? Not mention that most of the time the game is in a long shot and you can barely see anyone… :)

  9. Force india wins the race & decides to pull back EU complaint against F1.

    1. That escalated quickly :O

  10. Lewisham Milton
    9th October 2015, 12:02

    Look what a difference it’s made now that Hulk’s doing f1 full time!

  11. We all see how well spent are those 4 Honda tokens!

    1. Jokes aside, I really hope those upgrades bear fruit! I can’t wait to have any feedback.

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