Raikkonen fastest in 1st practice for Russian Grand Prix

Apr 29, 2017, 21:44

Championship leader Vettel, who heads Hamilton by seven points in the title race, ended Mercedes' streak of 18 consecutive poles with a brilliant final lap following a nail-biting session here at the Sochi Autodrom.

The Mercedes duo of Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton qualified third and fourth respectively after failing to dislodge Vettel with their last-lap efforts.

Lewis Hamilton says that team orders are simply a fact of life at Mercedes in 2017. "No", said Vettel, a four-time champion with his previous team Red Bull. Glad I got it back, and big thanks to the team. It is great to have both cars on the front row, but it is only part of the job done. "I don't know. It's not far off, let's put it that way", he had said on Thursday (Friday NZT). "When I got the message we got it I was over the moon". I was over the moon. We are in front and that is all that matters. Vettel, whose 2016 campaign was his second in three years without a win, told F1's official website in an interview.

Ferrari also achieved a front row lockout for the first time in 127 races going back to the 2008 French Grand Prix, where Raikkonen took pole. "So far it's fine and tomorrow we have to make it a good day and go day by day". "To be honest, Ferrari have had the upper hand all weekend, but as always Sunday is the day that counts", said Bottas.

"Bit of a hard day for us", said Hamilton. Vettel said it was too early in the season to talk team orders.

Esteban Ocon's engine cover caused a red flag just over halfway through the session after it flew off the Frenchman's Force India, but driving was swiftly resumed after the track had been cleared.

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Despite that, the Silver Arrows are still considered the frontrunners in Russian Federation having won each of the three grands prix at Sochi, with Mercedes-powered cars accounting for seven of the nine podium spots on offer. Vettel was only fifth, more than a second off the Finn, and behind Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

While Hulkenberg's late lap was a strong one to get ahead of Ricciardo, his Renault teammate Jolyon Palmer suffered more problems.

"We have to try to target the top five".

The only low point for Ferrari is that with both drivers taking their third turbochargers of the season, they risk receiving 10 grid-place penalties should they exceed the permitted allocation of four.

Hamilton missed out on the title in his first season in Formula One in 2007 when he was at McLaren alongside Fernando Alonso.

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