SOCHI: Championship leader Lewis Hamilton bounced back to top the times ahead of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in Friday’s second practice for this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix.
The four-time champion Briton clocked a best lap time of one minute and 33.385 seconds to outpace the Finn by two-tenths of a second at the Sochi Autodrom circuit where title rival Sebastian Vettel was fifth quickest.
German Vettel of Ferrari had been fastest earlier in the opening session, but was unable to deliver the same level of competitive pace in the afternoon.
Red Bull pair Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo were third and fourth, nearly half a second off the pace, but ahead of Vettel and his Ferrari team-mate Sauber-bound Kimi Raikkonen.
Mexican Sergio Perez was seventh for Force India ahead of Pierre Gasly of Toro Rosso and Esteban Ocon in the second Force India with Marcus Ericsson 10th for Sauber.
Vettel, desperate to win and trim Hamilton’s 40-point lead in the championship, was 0.543 seconds adrift of Hamilton as the Englishman continued to demonstrate his current rich vein of form after four wins in the last five races, including triumphs in Italy and Singapore.
Vettel had a spin during the session and seemed ill at ease with his team again. He said his day was ‘tricky’ and had left him with much to do to close the gap.
“We look quite far away from the rest of the field so it’s not ideal,” he said. “We are struggling a bit for one lap and also on the long runs.
“From just looking at ourselves it wasn’t a good day. I think we have some catching up to do.”
McLaren and Williams, the two struggling once-great British teams, ended the day in the final four places.