The Dell Boys
The Dell Boys

Sebastian Vettel faster than Lewis Hamilton in Russian Grand Prix final practice

Lewis Hamilton believes it is advantage Sebastian Vettel for the Russian Grand Prix after he finished a distant fourth behind his Formula One World Championship rival in practice on Friday.

It was also Ferrari's first pole since 2015, ending a run of 18 by Mercedes.

F1 heads into this weekend's Sochi event with Vettel, victor of two of the opening three races, seven points ahead of Hamilton in the Drivers' Championship, while Ferrari is three clear of Mercedes in the constructors' standings. It really is a pleasure to take a seat and go around with low fuel and try and push it.

Mercedes continued to lag behind the Italian team, Valtteri Bottas third fastest and 0.363 seconds behind Vettel and 0.178secs ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

At Mercedes, there's a stark contrast between Bottas and Rosberg, who had a fierce rivalry with Hamilton for years before winning the 2016 title and promptly retiring. Though Mercedes has traditionally reserved its most powerful engine setting for qualifying since the introduction of the V6 turbos in 2014, the session confirmed Ferrari has the pace to compete for pole position on Saturday. For the first time in 31 races Sunday, there won't be a Mercedes on the front row. Palmer had ended his running early on Friday due to an undisclosed chassis problem, which resulted in Renault changing the chassis overnight.

"We were just trying to find the right balance in the auto, but today it was not easy", he added on Friday.

If you have rhythm here it feels fantastic so I am glad that I got it back. We made good improvements from yesterday to today but it was not enough and we still have work to do. "This year, the first three races, is completely different", said Lauda, a former three-time Formula One World Champion. I knew it would be tight and I knew I would be the first to cross the line [compared to the two Mercedes] - so going quicker than Kimi on my screen, I immediately opened up the radio to ask about the others. Ferrari hasn't had both cars on the front row since the 2008 French GP. "I knew we could do it, but didn't know how strong in relation to them".

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo was urged on by his team to push further and secure his place in Q3, but couldn't manage to do any better than eighth.

"Second-row start here is not that bad a thing".

Vettel, chasing his third win in four races for resurgent Ferrari, suffered a spin but was fifth fastest with Red Bull's Max Verstappen fourth on a sunny morning with snowy mountains as a backdrop.


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