After seeing teammate and championship rival Nico Rosberg finish fastest in FP1, Lewis Hamilton has hit back in the second free practice session on Friday in Russia to lead the field by over eight-tenths of a second.
The Briton recorded a fastest lap time of 1:39.630 to finish ahead of McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen as Rosberg was forced to settle for fourth place in the standings, some nine-tenths behind his teammate.
However, Rosberg’s fastest time did come on a lap that saw him make a mistake and run wide at the final corner, and as shown by his pace in FP1, he is going to be battling for the race win with Hamilton on Sunday despite this setback in FP2.
The big surprise of the session was McLaren’s pace as both Magnussen and teammate Jenson Button flirted with top spot in the standings throughout the session. Although Button had to settle for P6 come the checkered flag, his long run pace was mightily impressive, and the British team may have a genuine chance of a podium finish in Sochi this weekend.
Ferrari and Williams’ tussle for third place in the constructors’ championship is set to rage on in Russia as both Fernando Alonso and Valtteri Bottas finished inside the top five in FP2.
Home favorite Daniil Kvyat continued to impress for Toro Rosso, with the Russian driver finishing the session in eighth place ahead of defending world champion Sebastian Vettel.
The session was interrupted late on when Daniel Ricciardo pulled over at the side of the circuit with a technical issue, bringing out the red flag. Red Bull is yet to confirm what the issue on his car was, but he could be forced into taking a grid penalty should he change part of his engine.
Although there are no points for practice, both Mercedes and McLaren will be delighted with their form on Friday ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying session. Quite whether it will be Lewis or Nico remains to be seen, but their fight is set to rage on in Sochi this weekend.