Carlos Sainz Jnr, McLaren, Sochi Autodrom, 2020

Bottas fastest as Sainz and Latifi crash in first practice at Sochi

2020 Russian Grand Prix first practice

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Valtteri Bottas was fastest in the first practice session at Sochi while team mate Lewis Hamilton was unexpectedly last among the 19 drivers who set times.

The first 90 minutes of running at Sochi Autodrom was also disrupted by separate crashes for Carlos Sainz Jnr and Nicholas Latifi.

After very slow starts to practice in Monza and Mugello, cars were straight out on track at Sochi with several teams bringing upgrades – Lance Stroll running new parts on his Racing Point and both McLaren cars trying a new “nosebox” evolved from their Mugello update.

However McLaren’s running was not helped when Sainz crashed into the barriers at turn seven. The MCL35 slid in backwards, breaking both the wing and the car’s rear structure. He was able to return to the pits with the wing hanging off the back of the car, under warning from his engineer to go as slowly as possible. He only managed half an hour of running in the upgraded car, which his team were unable to repair before the end of the session.

Latifi also crashed in almost the same place later in the session. Drivers had been being warned about crosswinds in turns 10 and 13 but both Latifi and Sainz’s crashes seemed to be the rear sliding out from under them in the 90-degree corner at turn seven. Latifi’s crash was heavier than Sainz’s, going into the barrier side-on with the left of his car crumpled into the tyre barriers, bringing out a brief red flag to retrieve the Williams.

Daniil Kvyat looked rapid early briefly topped the times at his home grand prix while running on medium tyres early in the session. But Bottas was able to move ahead on the harder compound, followed by the Renaults, Verstappen and the Racing Point cars.

Hamilton suffered an uncharacteristically low-key session, only setting times on hard tyres and without a huge amount of running after suffering a lock-up what flat-spotted his front-left. He finished the session 19th fastest, almost three seconds back from Bottas’ time. His initial attempt at setting a soft tyre time was also disrupted by the Virtual Safety Car triggered out by Sainz’s crash

Several drivers complained about being held up by their rivals, but no investigations were registered, and Bottas finished the session fastest with a 1’34.923. As the track was still very green at this stage in the weekend, this was over three seconds why of Charles Leclerc’s 2019 pole time of 1’31.628.

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2020 Russian Grand Prix first practice result

2020 Russian Grand Prix First Practice classification

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
177Valtteri BottasMercedes1’34.92313
23Daniel RicciardoRenault1’35.4300.50722
333Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’35.5770.65422
411Sergio PerezRacing Point-Mercedes1’35.7960.87323
518Lance StrollRacing Point-Mercedes1’35.9651.04221
631Esteban OconRenault1’36.0611.13823
726Daniil KvyatAlphaTauri-Honda1’36.2301.30722
823Alexander AlbonRed Bull-Honda1’36.2541.33124
95Sebastian VettelFerrari1’36.3231.40023
1010Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda1’36.7061.78325
1116Charles LeclercFerrari1’36.8961.97323
1255Carlos Sainz JnrMcLaren-Renault1’36.9702.0478
134Lando NorrisMcLaren-Renault1’37.1102.18728
1499Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’37.2012.27817
157Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’37.2302.30723
1620Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’37.4302.50722
1763George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’37.5952.67224
188Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’37.6492.72624
1944Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’37.7162.79318
206Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes1’37.7842.86111

First practice visual gaps

Valtteri Bottas – 1’34.923

+0.507 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’35.430

+0.654 Max Verstappen – 1’35.577

+0.873 Sergio Perez – 1’35.796

+1.042 Lance Stroll – 1’35.965

+1.138 Esteban Ocon – 1’36.061

+1.307 Daniil Kvyat – 1’36.230

+1.331 Alexander Albon – 1’36.254

+1.400 Sebastian Vettel – 1’36.323

+1.783 Pierre Gasly – 1’36.706

+1.973 Charles Leclerc – 1’36.896

+2.047 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’36.970

+2.187 Lando Norris – 1’37.110

+2.278 Antonio Giovinazzi – 1’37.201

+2.307 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’37.230

+2.507 Kevin Magnussen – 1’37.430

+2.672 George Russell – 1’37.595

+2.726 Romain Grosjean – 1’37.649

+2.793 Lewis Hamilton – 1’37.716

+2.861 Nicholas Latifi – 1’37.784

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

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2020 Russian Grand Prix

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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12 comments on “Bottas fastest as Sainz and Latifi crash in first practice at Sochi”

    1. he’s just practicing for the potential introduction of reverse-grids.

      1. Priceless!!! :)

  1. Bottas 3.0 – Russian Update seems to do wonders.

  2. Max fastest sector which was yellow sector. Surely there must be a penalty coming on.

    1. @Rott The yellow happened behind him, so he had already passed that point of the track before. Furthermore, this is only about practice, not qualifying where lap times truly matter. Another point, improving is irrelevant as long as it doesn’t come from the relevant mini-sector as proven by the cases of the two Nicos in 2016.

      1. Ok. The rules are confusing.

    2. I suppose you can keep racing as hard as you can if the crash happens behind you, even if you are still in the affected yellow sector?

      1. @paeschli
        technically not; yellow sector is yellow sector, which means ‘lift throttle’.
        Drivers have used it as an excuse though, but that is a bit shortsighted as there could be a second stranded car around the corner.

      2. Yes. The yellow flags are given for the mini-sector or the marshalling sector and not the timing sector. If an accident happens behind you while u are on the same timing sector, but past that mini-sector, you can go full throttle, as long as u don’t encounter naother yellow flag ahead.

  3. “Valtteri Bottas was fastest in the first practice session at Sochi while team mate Lewis Hamilton was unexpectedly last among the 19 drivers who set times.”

    Funnily enough though, 20 drivers times listed and Latifi slower, making Hamilton 19th rather than slowest, so I guess being classed as last is very unexpected

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