The fourth round of the 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship began with practice Friday at the Sochi Autodrom as teams prepared for the Russian Grand Prix Sunday.
Two 90-minute sessions – FP1 and FP2 – on the 5.848-kilometer (3.634-mile), 18-turn track allowed Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen to not only prepare their car’s balance for qualifying Saturday and the 53-lap race Sunday, but to also get acclimated to the team’s switch to a new brake provider – Carbon Industrie.
While both Grosjean and Magnussen tested the Carbon Industrie brakes for two days following the Bahrain Grand Prix, Sochi marked the first time this year the new brake package was used in competition.
The incredibly smooth surface of the Sochi Autodrom puts grip at a premium, and the inherit challenge of keeping one’s racecar glued to the asphalt is multiplied when a new brake supplier is introduced.
Magnussen was the first Haas F1 Team driver out in FP1, followed shortly by Grosjean. Each driver was on the same program – an installation lap on Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tires and then a baseline stint on the same Yellow softs before switching to Red supersoft tires for two additional runs, each on the same set of supersofts.
Magnussen logged 23 laps in FP1 with his best time coming on his final lap – a 1:38.747 that placed him 12th overall. Grosjean totaled 17 laps, with his best time coming on his final lap as well – a 1:39.533 that put him 16th on the timing sheet. Both drivers earned their quick times while riding on Red supersofts.
Leading the way in FP1 was Scuderia Ferrari driver Kimi Räikkönen, whose fast lap of 1:36.074 was .045 of a second better than the next quickest driver, Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas. Räikkönen’s quick lap was .737 of a second off the all-time fastest lap at the Sochi Autodrom – a 1:35.337 set by Nico Rosberg in his Mercedes during qualifying for last year’s Russian Grand Prix.
That record ultimately fell in FP2 as the grip level increased and the pace quickened, due in large part to teams switching to the Purple ultrasoft tire, the grippiest compound in Pirelli’s lineup.
Both Haas F1 Team drivers improved on their FP1 times and moved up the speed chart. Magnussen bettered his FP1 mark by 2.241 seconds with a time of 1:36.506 on his 14th lap with the ultrasoft tires. Grosjean lopped 2.494 seconds off his FP1 time with a 1:37.039 on his 13th tour, also on ultrasofts. Each driver ran a total of 31 laps in FP2.
Scuderia Ferrari remained quickest, with Räikkönen’s teammate, Sebastian Vettel, topping FP2 with a 1:34.120, which was .263 of a second faster than Räikkönen and 1.217 seconds faster than the previous track record set by Rosberg.
Between the two sessions, Haas F1 Team ran a total of 102 laps – 54 by Magnussen and 48 by Grosjean.