Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Sochi Autodrom, 2019

Leclerc pips Verstappen as practice begins in Sochi

2019 Russian Grand Prix first practice

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Charles Leclerc narrowly led Red Bull rival Max Verstappen in the first practice session for the Russian Grand Prix.

Leclerc deposed team mate Sebastian Vettel from the top of the times mid-way through the session and ended up half a second ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix winner. But Verstappen produced a superb run through the final sector of the lap, taking three-tenths off Leclerc, and ending up within a tenth of a second of the Ferrari.

Like the Ferrari drivers, Verstappen did his quickest time on soft tyres. The Mercedes pair kept their powder dry, lapping on mediums, and evening up over seven-tenths of a second off the quickest time. Valtteri Bottas was the quicker of the pair but had to back off at the end of the session after the team noticed damaged to the left-hand side of his rear wing.

Alexander Albon, sixth, was almost a second off his team mate’s pace. He was just two-tenths of a second quicker than Nico Hulkenberg, who led the Renaults in seventh and eighth. Daniel Ricciardo spun into a barrier at the end of the session, breaking his rear wing. Sergio Perez’s Racing Point and Romain Grosjean’s Haas, running largely in the team’s Melbourne specification, completed the top 10.

It was a frustratingly short session for Daniil Kvyat, whose Toro Rosso stopped on the fifth lap of his home track due to an apparent power unit problem. Kvyat has taken a new Honda power unit this weekend.

Robert Kubica ended the session slowest. The Williams driver, who will have to start from the back of the grid due to an engine change, also had a brief spun during the session but did not hit anything.

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Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
116Charles LeclercFerrari1’34.46220
233Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’34.5440.08225
35Sebastian VettelFerrari1’35.0050.54320
477Valtteri BottasMercedes1’35.1980.73628
544Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’35.4110.94922
623Alexander AlbonRed Bull-Honda1’35.4841.02222
727Nico HulkenbergRenault1’35.7401.27821
83Daniel RicciardoRenault1’36.2871.82520
911Sergio PerezRacing Point-Mercedes1’36.3211.85927
108Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’36.5162.05423
1155Carlos Sainz JnrMcLaren-Renault1’36.5232.06128
1210Pierre GaslyToro Rosso-Honda1’36.5382.07625
1320Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’36.5962.13421
1418Lance StrollRacing Point-Mercedes1’36.7142.25226
157Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’36.7702.30822
164Lando NorrisMcLaren-Renault1’36.8442.38230
1799Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’37.3282.86618
1863George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’38.5204.05827
1926Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Honda1’38.5504.0885
2088Robert KubicaWilliams-Mercedes1’38.6704.20829

First practice visual gaps

Charles Leclerc – 1’34.462

+0.082 Max Verstappen – 1’34.544

+0.543 Sebastian Vettel – 1’35.005

+0.736 Valtteri Bottas – 1’35.198

+0.949 Lewis Hamilton – 1’35.411

+1.022 Alexander Albon – 1’35.484

+1.278 Nico Hulkenberg – 1’35.740

+1.825 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’36.287

+1.859 Sergio Perez – 1’36.321

+2.054 Romain Grosjean – 1’36.516

+2.061 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’36.523

+2.076 Pierre Gasly – 1’36.538

+2.134 Kevin Magnussen – 1’36.596

+2.252 Lance Stroll – 1’36.714

+2.308 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’36.770

+2.382 Lando Norris – 1’36.844

+2.866 Antonio Giovinazzi – 1’37.328

+4.058 George Russell – 1’38.520

+4.088 Daniil Kvyat – 1’38.550

+4.208 Robert Kubica – 1’38.670

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

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2019 Russian Grand Prix

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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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23 comments on “Leclerc pips Verstappen as practice begins in Sochi”

  1. Daniil Kvyat, whose Toro Rosso stopped on the fifth lap of his home track due to an apparent power unit problem. Kvyat has taken a new Honda power unit this weekend.

    Are teams still in the habit of running an older PU on Friday, and the race one (e.g. Kvyat’s new one) from FP3 onwards?

    I’m just hoping that what went kaput was an older high-mileage PU.

    1. @phylyp
      I believe they have changed just about every thing in Daniil’s car. New engine, turbo, MGUH/K, etc.

      I suppose one of those could have gone bust.

      1. @webtel What @phylyp means is if they haven’t swapped those bits out yet then it is just old spec stuff that has gone pop. A lot of teams wait until last minute to fit new PU components if they can help it to get the most performance miles out of them.

        1. @tonyyeb – thank you, that is indeed what I meant.

        2. @tonyyeb @phylyp

          Meanwhile, STR have confirmed that it was a fuel system issue.

  2. he used the new one but it seems a fuel pump problem not the engine.

  3. It’d be a bit funny if (again) Red Bull were more competitive than expected at a track where they change their engine, and less competitive at the track where they don’t.

  4. Mercs ran mediums for their fastest lap while others ran softs..

    1. Well done for repeating what the article says.

      1. Tables still doesnt show that information. Looking at gap top 3 teams can certainly get away using medium in Q2 tomorrow(presuming its dry).

  5. Again Leclerc faster than Vettel. This guy is on fire. Traditionally Mercedes is slower on friday and faster in quali&race. I can only imagine quali will be somewhat close.

    Mercedes did the times on mediums, so not world greatest omen for a close competition, but atleast they were not fastest on Friday on slower tires.

    1. @jureo

      Honestly, If it wasn’t for Leclerc shooting himself in the foot at Baku, Monaco and Germany, or, getting shafted by Ferrari on strategy on multiple occasions, it would have been a complete annihilation of the 4 time WDC at the hands of Leclerc.

      1. @todfod – on that theme, imagine if Charles had got his maiden win at Bahrain, and having done so after ignoring team orders to hold station behind Vettel. The columns that’d have been written… :)

        1. @phylyp

          I think Vettel would have announced his retirement already if that’s how the season had panned out for Lecerlc. He would have had 4 wins under his belt to Vettel’s zero..

        2. Sky did somehow manage to come to the conclusion that Leclerc overtaking his slower teammate (albeit against team orders) in Bahrain was justification for Vettel winning Singapore (implying that any justification was even needed, which it wasn’t, Ferrari were 1-3, they ended 1-2, which is good for them). But yeah, they somehow made that a bad thing, and brought it up in Russia, however many rounds later.

      2. @todfod

        It changes very little. It is enough that he gets infront in quali week after week. 6 i na row or is it 7 now already? Even with all kind of misshaps from early in the season it is now quite noticable whenever they get in the car Leclerc gets more out of it.

        There is no doubt that even birds now sing if his legendary speed.

        So what if he had 40 extra points? Maybe he would be close to title contention if Lewis had 3 DNF’s.

        Other than that no difference, he has established himself as slightly faster than Vettel and more adept at wheel to wheel racing. And that is not a bad legacy to have. He is now instantly a top driver in the eyes of everyone.

      3. @todfod Had to laugh at your woulda, coulda, shoulda post. ‘Honestly’ if you’re being honest you would have to say ‘because’ CL shot himself in the foot at Baku, Monaco, and Germany he has not annihilated SV.

        1. @robbied90
          Regardless of the could haves or would haves… He’s smashing Vettel… I don’t think you’re too happy about it. So I get where your comment is coming from.

      4. Charles has been doing so well that it’s easy to forget sometimes that he’s only halfway into his 2nd year in F1. He’s still inexperienced, still learning and is bound to make some mistakes along the way.

  6. Geez, Williams…

  7. Hmm, nearly 1s gap to Albon, and the last race has shown Gasly really is quite the competent driver as well.
    Verstappen just seems to be doing things with that car that it shouldnt be capable of.

    1. Albion is a rookie, in a new car and at a new track. Calm down. VER is very good, but still crashing every other race.

  8. Merca king the same mistake as last week, using their medium tires too early. They could have won if the used mediums in q2 in Singapore.

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