The Russian Grand Prix weekend began with Lewis Hamilton at the top of the timesheets on the first day’s running at the Sochi Autodrom.
- Nico and Lewis ended the first session in P1 and P2 respectively, separated by less than a tenth of a second
- Lewis ended the day with the fastest time set in the second session, 0.864 seconds clear of second place; Nico was fourth fastest
- The Pirelli medium tyre was used during the first session, the medium and soft in the afternoon
- The team completed a total of 113 laps today, equivalent to more than two complete race distances
I like the new circuit; it’s got really good grip and great corners, with a lot at medium speed. It’s good fun. The car has been feeling really good today. McLaren look close which is great for everyone as it should make for a decent race. We’ve got quite a good balance with the car so there are a lot of boxes ticked but we still have work to do to see if we can improve for tomorrow.
That was a very productive day from an engineering point of view. The team decided to go two different ways in terms of setup. I took a very creative setup for my car in the second practice session, which didn’t work out. So we will go back to the conservative way for tomorrow, because we saw that Lewis was very quick with that. The track is really cool to drive, very enjoyable. Turn three is a very special one and the asphalt is very smooth, so the tyres last long. We won’t see that many pit stops on Sunday, I guess. That’s a bit surprising to me.
My compliments go to the organisers on the standard of the facility here in Sochi and this challenging new circuit. Like at any new track, the surface was very green today and we need running time for the grip levels to build up; we could see that lap times were improving all the way through both sessions. The conditions will probably ramp up even further through the weekend and we need to make the right decisions on set-up.
The first thing we must say is that it’s great to be here at this new circuit in Sochi. We are very happy with the circuit and the facilities and a great job has been done to prepare everything to a high standard. On track, the biggest challenge of the weekend will be to make the tyres work on this brand new tarmac. The problems seem to be shared by all teams and we worked hard between the sessions to make some changes, with some moderate success. We expect tomorrow to prove very challenging as a number of our competitors were looking very fast today. On the positive front, we enjoyed a trouble-free day in terms of reliability, but we have a busy evening of analysis ahead of us.