Valtteri Bottas fastest in second Russia practice

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
The Russian Grand Prix is live on 5 Live and the BBC Sport website

Valtteri Bottas set the pace ahead of Lewis Hamilton in second practice at the Russian Grand Prix despite scruffy sessions for both Mercedes drivers.

The Finn was top by 0.267secs despite sliding wide at the final corner, while Hamilton abandoned what would have been his own best lap after an error.

Hamilton locked a front wheel into Turn 13 and just avoided the barrier.

Bottas was a second ahead of Renault's Daniel Ricciardo in third and McLaren's Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris.

Red Bull appeared to be struggling. Max Verstappen was only seventh fastest after a spin, behind Racing Point's Sergio Perez and 1.5secs off the pace, while his team-mate Alex Albon was a further 0.5secs back in 12th place.

Behind Verstappen, the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel were eighth and 10th, sandwiching Renault's Esteban Ocon.

Mercedes appeared to be in a league of their own, while Red Bull, usually their closest rivals, have work to do.

Mercedes' advantage was also pronounced on the long runs later in the session.

Hamilton and Bottas were well over 0.5secs a lap faster than any other car on average over their race-simulation runs - and again Ricciardo was faster than Verstappen, at least on the soft tyre, although the Dutchman looked more competitive on his second set of tyres at the end of practice, when he was next quickest after the Mercedes.

Hamilton and Bottas both had difficult first sessions, losing much of their running after locking front wheels and damaging their tyres but recovered well in the afternoon.

Hamilton said: "I didn't feel like I was particularly quick today. P1 was pretty poor. Had a lock-up at Turn One on the soft tyre and then went out on the hard and completely destroyed the tyres, so P1 was scrap.

"P2 started a lot better. A bit down in the first and second sector but the last one was nice. I haven't put them all together yet. It's a work in progress, just some things I need to improve from the driving side and set-up-wise.

"Even for us, it doesn't feel that great out there, so surprised to see that gap. It must be even worse for those behind. But the track will grip up and things might close up."

While the session was running, F1 announced that the sport is to have a new boss, confirming the appointment of former Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali as president and chief executive officer, starting in January.

Chase Carey, the chairman and chief executive since January 2017 when the sport was taken over by US group Liberty Media, will become non-executive chairman.

"I know Stefano really well and he's one of the nicest guys I know," said Hamilton. "I don't think they could have chosen someone better to replace some big shoes with Chase, whose done an amazing job.

"Stefano has a great heart, a good family and good morals. The future's positive."

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