Vettel and Ferrari fastest in practice for Russian GP

Vettel and Ferrari fastest in practice for Russian GP

SOCHI, Russia — Formula One leader Sebastian Vettel recovered after a spin in the first practice session Friday and set the fastest time of the day ahead of this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix.

Vettel set a time of 1 minute, 34.120 seconds in the second session. That was .263 seconds faster than teammate Kimi Raikkonen in a strong showing for Ferrari on a track which had been widely expected to favour Mercedes.

Valtteri Bottas was .670 seconds off Vettel’s place to claim, with Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton fourth. Max Verstappen held onto the fifth-fastest time even though his Red Bull broke down with about 20 minutes remaining on a warm, dry day at the Olympic Park.

Earlier, Raikkonen led the first session, narrowly ahead of Bottas and Hamilton, with Verstappen fourth and Vettel fifth.

Rookie driver Lance Stroll of Montreal was almost four seconds behind in 19th place.

Renault test driver Sergei Sirotkin was given a rare run in the first practice session, but the car broke down before he could set a time.

The session was briefly red-flagged when the engine cover flew off Esteban Ocon’s Force India car on a high-speed section.

There was more misery for McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne as he picked up a 15-place grid penalty for exceeding his allowance of various power unit components. The Belgian, whose best qualifying result this season was 16th in China, is almost certain to start Sunday’s race from the back of the grid.

With an underpowered and unreliable Honda engine, McLaren hasn’t scored a point in three races this season. Vandoorne’s 13th place in the opening race in Australia last month is the only time this season that a McLaren car has reached the checkered flag.

James Ellingworth, The Associated Press