Hamilton fastest as Mercedes step up the pace

13 May, 2017, 10:27 | Author: Douglas Reid
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While Bottas was successful in Sochi, his Mercedes team-mate, three-time world champion Hamilton, found the going tough and could only finish down in fourth.

The three-time world champion led the way ahead of his team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who claimed his maiden win in Russian Federation two weeks ago, where a baffled Hamilton finished fourth.

Last year's victor, Dutch teenager Max Verstappen of Red Bull, was fifth fastest ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo.

But that the Silver Arrows improvements have worked so quickly may leave their rivals concerned that they will dominate for the rest of the season, as they have for the previous three years.

The Spaniard left the circuit midway through Practice One for a game of tennis while the session continued without him and his stricken auto.

The Brazilian was himself called upon to help Kimi Raikkonen's campaign at Ferrari back in 2007. "I don't know who brought the most updates, and I don't think it matters; what matters is who brought the best".

Ferrari also have a series of aerodynamic changes on their auto, as do Red Bull, who are hopeful their upgrade will clos the one-second gap that has separated them from the front-runners so far this season.

"I think we've definitely grown from the experience, both having a win, having a fast vehicle and obviously having a auto that struggled in so many areas".

"I feel good. Obviously today I don't feel so good inside the vehicle, it was quite slippery but I think it was due to the conditions, I think everybody was struggling a bit". I was proud of what we had achieved - I just wish that I could have backed him up, in the sense of getting a 1-2, but we can work on that maybe this weekend. I am just not happy with how the day went.

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"I think it's been always like that in F1, but now that our auto with Ferrari is so equal small things like tyres [can decide the outcome]".

"I hope tomorrow, whoever that was, will disappear". "The auto was slippery but I think that was because of the conditions".

Nico Rosberg, the victor of the first four races in 2016, won the title with Mercedes last season, while Hamilton won the previous two championships.

"This circuit is always quite hard on the tyres so the last sector is usually quite tricky but the wind definitely did not help". "It was OK but as I said, we can improve".

The Ferraris did seem to be able to lap as quickly as the Mercedes in race trim on occasional laps but could not keep the pace up.

Williams' Felipe Massa and Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz completed the top ten, the latter causing a brief red-flag period in the second half of the session after running wide at Turn 9 and depositing a piece of bodywork close to the racing line.

Subsequently, writing to the teams ahead of the Russian Grand Prix, Charlie Whiting wrote to all the teams explaining: "We require each vehicle number to be clearly visible from the front of the auto (Article 9.2)".

"So there is going to be less speaking about tyres and it's going to be more about the cars, and set-ups and auto development".

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