Russian Grand Prix: Friday Practice Recap

Event:  Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 2 (FP1 and FP2) 

Date:  Friday, April 28

Location:  Sochi Autodrom

Layout:  5.848-kilometer (3.634-mile), 18-turn circuit

FP1 Weather:  Sunny

FP1 Air Temps:  19.6-22.9 degrees Celsius (67.3-73.2 degrees Fahrenheit)

FP1 Track Temps:  4-37.7 degrees Celsius (93.2-99.9 degrees Fahrenheit)

FP2 Weather:  Sunny

FP2Air Temps:  21.8-23 degrees Celsius (71.2-73.4 degrees Fahrenheit)

FP3 Track Temps:  34.7-40.9 degrees Celsius (94.5-105.6 degrees Fahrenheit)

Drivers:  Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen

Magnussen:  12th quick (1:38.747), 23 laps completed

Grosjean:  16th quick (1:39.533), 17 laps completed

Fastest Driver:  Kimi Räikkönen of Scuderia Ferrari (1:36.074)

Most Laps:  Lance Stroll of Williams (30 laps)

Magnussen:  9th quick (1:36.506), 31 laps completed

Grosjean:  14th quick (1:37.039), 31 laps completed

Fastest Driver:  Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari (1:34.120)

Most Laps:  Felipe Massa of Williams and Esteban Ocon of Force India (39 laps)

The fourth round of the 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship began with practice Friday at the Sochi Autodrom as teams prepared for the Russian Grand Prix Sunday.


Two 90-minute sessions – FP1 and FP2 – on the 5.848-kilometer (3.634-mile), 18-turn track allowed Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen to not only prepare their car’s balance for qualifying Saturday and the 53-lap race Sunday, but to also get acclimated to the team’s switch to a new brake provider – Carbon Industrie.


While both Grosjean and Magnussen tested the Carbon Industrie brakes for two days following the Bahrain Grand Prix, Sochi marked the first time this year the new brake package was used in competition.


The incredibly smooth surface of the Sochi Autodrom puts grip at a premium, and the inherit challenge of keeping one’s racecar glued to the asphalt is multiplied when a new brake supplier is introduced.


Magnussen was the first Haas F1 Team driver out in FP1, followed shortly by Grosjean. Each driver was on the same program – an installation lap on Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tires and then a baseline stint on the same Yellow softs before switching to Red supersoft tires for two additional runs, each on the same set of supersofts.


Magnussen logged 23 laps in FP1 with his best time coming on his final lap – a 1:38.747 that placed him 12th overall. Grosjean totaled 17 laps, with his best time coming on his final lap as well – a 1:39.533 that put him 16th on the timing sheet. Both drivers earned their quick times while riding on Red supersofts.


Leading the way in FP1 was Scuderia Ferrari driver Kimi Räikkönen, whose fast lap of 1:36.074 was .045 of a second better than the next quickest driver, Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas. Räikkönen’s quick lap was .737 of a second off the all-time fastest lap at the Sochi Autodrom – a 1:35.337 set by Nico Rosberg in his Mercedes during qualifying for last year’s Russian Grand Prix.


That record ultimately fell in FP2 as the grip level increased and the pace quickened, due in large part to teams switching to the Purple ultrasoft tire, the grippiest compound in Pirelli’s lineup.


Both Haas F1 Team drivers improved on their FP1 times and moved up the speed chart. Magnussen bettered his FP1 mark by 2.241 seconds with a time of 1:36.506 on his 14th lap with the ultrasoft tires. Grosjean lopped 2.494 seconds off his FP1 time with a 1:37.039 on his 13th tour, also on ultrasofts. Each driver ran a total of 31 laps in FP2.


Scuderia Ferrari remained quickest, with Räikkönen’s teammate, Sebastian Vettel, topping FP2 with a 1:34.120, which was .263 of a second faster than Räikkönen and 1.217 seconds faster than the previous track record set by Rosberg.


Between the two sessions, Haas F1 Team ran a total of 102 laps – 54 by Magnussen and 48 by Grosjean. 

“We’ve got very little grip. We’re really struggling with the balance. We had some issues, as well, with the brakes over the long runs. We need to look at what we can do better with them. Generally, it’s just been a very difficult Friday. The car didn’t perform well – very low grip on low fuel and high fuel. Hopefully, we can find some performance and get closer to where Kevin is and get back in the top-10 tomorrow.” 

“I’m quite happy. We got through the day without any problems on the car. We got the whole program done, so that’s very satisfying. The early feeling is good with the car. We need to look at a few issues on the balance, normal stuff like that, but the baseline is quite good. The balance of the track is evolving in each session, but the balance in the car is similar, so that’s a good sign. We’ll keep working and try and iron out the small balance issues that we have. As I said, the baseline is good in the car, so it’s just details we need to work on.” 

“It was a busy day today. We’re obviously coming to a track which isn’t used a lot. It still has low grip levels, but in the morning every lap went quicker as everybody’s cleaning the track up and going faster and faster. We had a lot to do and I think we did a lot. We still haven’t got all the results yet, as we need to go through data. I would say the issues with the brakes were mainly because they’re new to us. We need to find out how they work. Going through the data, we will decide tomorrow what we’re doing and how we continue. All in all, we had pretty fruitful sessions. We did a lot of laps and we learned a lot. Now we need to get the best out of what we learned for tomorrow to go into qualifying.”  

Drivers have one more practice session on Saturday (12:00-13:00) before qualifying starts at 15:00. Qualifying consists of three rounds, with the 15 fastest drivers from Q1 moving on to Q2. Then, the 10 fastest drivers from Q2 advance to Q3 where they’ll battle for the pole.

This article contains: Russian Grand Prix