F errari confirms the shape of the last few weeks. In the third training session for the Russian GP, the most successful racing team in Formula 1 history set the second best time of the weekend. Charles Leclerc shone again. The Monegasse set the fastest lap time of the previous days on the Black Sea in 1: 32.733 minutes.
The threat of rain during the journey did not materialize. In Sochi it only rained during the night. Therefore, the 20 drivers found an initially green route. As usual, they achieved the fastest lap times towards the end of practice on the second set of tires.
Vettel's problem: Sector three
Charles Leclerc, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton shared the sector best times. The man in the Ferrari with starting number 16 was the most consistent. Leclerc prevailed over Vettel by 0.316 seconds. The Heppenheimer is fast up to the last section of the route. Then the rear tires apparently overheat in the last six corners. Vettel drifted out of the target curve, while Leclerc did not see any oversteer.
The four-time world champion has to work on the handling of the tires until qualification. Otherwise he shouldn't have a chance against his team-mate. The fastest in training the previous day fell back to fifth place. And Max Verstappen made a driving mistake.
First he jumped violently over the curb at corner two, which levered the Red Bull on the front axle. Then Verstappen lost the stern in the last sector and kissed the Tecpro protective wall. Due to the involuntary insert, the Dutchman stayed on the soft tires with no lap time. Verstappen was the only top driver who relied on the medium tire in the first run.
Mercedes suffered from cold front tires on Friday. Therefore the W10 refused to viciously turn into the corners. A day later, the problems seem at least alleviated. Lewis Hamilton shortened the gap and took third place. He is almost four tenths of a second short of the top riders.
Team mate Valtteri Bottas drove his Mercedes to fourth position. He is 0.621 seconds behind. Romain Grosjean surprisingly landed behind Verstappen. Haas is in much better shape on the 5.848-kilometer circuit than last time. Kevin Magnussen underscored it in tenth place.
Alexander Albon cannot keep up with his teammate's pace. After all, he wasn't slowed down by any technical problems in the third training session. Red Bull's number two managed more than any other driver with 21 laps.
Modifications at McLaren
Nico Hülkenberg has a good chance of leading the midfield in Sochi. The 2015 Le Mans winner had his garage neighbor Daniel Ricciardo under control again. Hülkenberg finished eighth, followed by Lando Norris in the McLaren. The traditional racing team had to fight the day before. Both pilots complained about the vehicle balance. The MCL34 first understeered and then fell into oversteer. Corrections to the aerodynamics and the setup had an effect.
Racing Point slipped. Sergio Perez spent most of his training in the pits. Alfa Romeo has not yet improved. And Toro Rosso paralyzed technical problems. Local hero Daniil Kvyat rolled out for the second time this race weekend. The Honda engine failed. The Japanese have confirmed that the Russian will receive a new Spec-4 engine for qualifying. Like Robert Kubica, Kvyat starts from behind anyway. The race management also imposed engine fines on Verstappen, Albon and Pierre Gasly, who finished eleventh.