Russian Grand Prix: Practice Sessions
Felipe Massa went fastest in the second free practice session using the Cinturato Blue full wet tire, while the quickest time of the day was set by Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg in FP1 on the soft tire.
This is the first Russian grand prix in which the P Zero Yellow soft and P Zero Red supersoft tires have been nominated, but the softest tire in the range is yet to be used: meaning that the team will have a busy morning tomorrow.
The two free practice sessions in Russia were both disrupted for separate reasons: a diesel spillage, which was covered in water, caused a half-hour delay to the start of FP1 while there was continuous rain throughout FP2, which meant that only seven drivers chose to set a time and some did not come out at all.
For most of the FP2 session, the track was very wet in some places and much drier in the others, making the tire choice very complex. However, with rain falling more intensely towards the end of the hour and a half session, the track became extremely wet everywhere. As a result, the teams chose not to run extensively, because better weather is predicted for the rest of the weekend that will be more representative of race conditions.
In the morning, Force India topped the FP1 classification for the first time, with Nico Hulkenberg using the soft tire to go fastest on his final lap of the session. Most drivers started FP1 on the intermediate tire, to cope with the damp patch on the track, but some also used the full wet. The full wet was used from start to finish of FP2.
During the day, every single tire in the range was used with the exception of the supersoft. However, the weather and track conditions meant that no representative lap times were set all day, with the times a long way off last year. As a result, the teams will have plenty of work to do to prepare strategy and assess wear and degradation rates in FP3 tomorrow.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director: “It was a largely inconclusive day in Russia. However, that’s just part of racing and we’ve seen before that less practice time can often lead to a more unpredictable qualifying and race. The surface of the track has not evolved considerably since last year, with the newness of the asphalt meaning that it’s not as porous as more established venues, so the water remained on the track for a while. It’s a shame for the fans that they didn’t get to see more running at this fantastic circuit, but with better weather expected over the rest of the weekend, we should be in for an exciting couple of days ahead. Tomorrow, the teams will be left with a very big workload in FP3 as they prepare for qualifying and the race in just one hour of what we expect to be dry running.”