Russian GP: Sebastian Vettel fastest in first practice

Sebastian Vettel
Second practice is live on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra from 12:55 BST

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel set the pace in first practice at the Russian Grand Prix, a race he really needs to win to revive his title hopes.

The German, 40 points behind Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton with a maximum of 150 available, edged out Red Bull's Max Verstappen, with Hamilton third.

Vettel was 0.330 seconds quicker than Hamilton, but on a faster tyre.

Vettel used the hyper-soft, Hamilton the soft, and the gap between the tyres is bigger than the time offset.

There would be expected to be between one and two seconds in performance between the two types of tyre - which means it will take more running before an accurate picture of relative pace emerges.

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Hamilton was one of several drivers to run wide on the slippery track surface at the Sochi Autodrom on Russia's Black Sea coast, with others including McLaren reserve Lando Norris.

The 18-year-old Briton, who will race for McLaren next year, was driving Fernando Alonso's car as the team build his experience ahead of his debut season next year.

Norris ran wide at Turn Five after misjudging how much speed he could carry into the corner while behind another car, but he kept the car out of the barriers.

Norris ended the session 13th, three places and 0.165secs ahead of regular McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne.

Sauber's Charles Leclerc, who is being promoted to Ferrari next season, was another to go off, the Monegasque struggling for grip and pace in his car and beaten by Antonio Giovinazzi, standing in for Marcus Ericsson in the other car.

Giovinazzi has been confirmed as replacing Ericsson in the team next year, alongside new signing Kimi Raikkonen, who is moving from Ferrari

Vettel's margin over Verstappen was just 0.05secs, on the same tyres, but Red Bull are out of the running this weekend as a result of grid penalties for both drivers for using too many engine parts.

Red Bull are not alone - both Toro Rosso drivers and McLaren's Fernando Alonso will start from the back for the same reason.

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas was fourth quickest, ahead of the second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon's Force India, which was faster than Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari.

Kevin Magnussen, confirmed alongside team-mate Romain Grosjean at Haas in 2019, was eighth, ahead of Renault's Nico Hulkenberg and Giovinazzi.

Of the other stand-in drivers, Russian Artem Markelov was 15th in Carlos Sainz's Renault and Canadian Nicolas Latifi 17th in Sergio Perez's Force India.

Artem Markelov
Artem Markelov was one of four new drivers taking part in first practice

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