Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Sochi Autodrom, 2016

Hamilton sets record-breaking practice pace

2016 Russian Grand Prix third practice

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Lewis Hamilton headed the times in final practice for the Russian Grand Prix, setting the fastest ever lap of the Sochi Autodrom.

Hamilton’s final effort of 1’36.403 was seven-tenths of a second fastest than last year’s pole position time set by team mate Nico Rosberg. It came at the end of a frantic exchange of times between the two Mercedes drivers.

With the super-soft tyre good for more than one flying lap the Mercedes drivers traded quickest times on the rubber in the middle of the session, ending up 1.2 seconds clear of closest rival Kimi Raikkonen. Rosberg headed Hamilton by a tenth of a second after this initial exchange, Hamilton slipping up at turn 13 after setting the fastest first sector time, flat-spotting his front-left.

The tight right-hander where Carlos Sainz Jnr crashed heavily last year caught out several drivers beginning with Sergio Perez. The Force India driver ran out of room to complete a 180-degree turn back onto the circuit after taking to the run-off. Rosberg also took to the run-off there, as did Romain Grosjean.

Rosberg consistently had the upper hand in the final sector of the lap on their final runs, and headed for the pits while Hamilton was beginning his final lap. Hamilton was over two-tenths of a second up through the first two sectors, and though he lost most of it at the end of the lap he remained ahead by six hundredths of a second.

Sebastian Vettel made an early start to the session after his breakdown in second practice. The Ferrari driver was quickly onto a race simulation stint on the super-soft tyres. He returned for a late run which left him six-tenths of a second off Rosberg. Raikkonen, who repeatedly struggled at the final corner, was more than seven-tenths further back.

Jenson Button underlined McLaren’s potential by setting the eighth-fastest time again, splitting the two Toro Rosso drivers. Perez ended the session inside the top ten despite also going off at turn eight on another of his runs.

Neither Red Bull figured in the top ten at the end of the session. Daniil Kvyat locked up and ran wide at turn two when he was briefly held up by Hamilton on one lap.

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’36.40317
26Nico RosbergMercedes1’36.4710.06822
35Sebastian VettelFerrari1’37.0070.60428
47Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’37.7271.32414
519Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1’37.9181.51516
677Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1’37.9851.58216
733Max VerstappenToro Rosso-Ferrari1’38.1331.73022
822Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Honda1’38.2601.85714
955Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso-Ferrari1’38.4652.06225
1011Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’38.5422.13918
113Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’38.6222.21923
1214Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Honda1’38.6332.23012
1326Daniil KvyatRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’39.0472.64415
1427Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’39.1622.75916
1521Esteban GutierrezHaas-Ferrari1’39.2302.82718
1620Kevin MagnussenRenault1’39.2382.83516
178Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’39.2392.83615
1830Jolyon PalmerRenault1’39.5893.18619
1988Rio HaryantoManor-Mercedes1’39.5993.19619
2094Pascal WehrleinManor-Mercedes1’39.6633.26018
219Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’39.7403.33723
2212Felipe NasrSauber-Ferrari1’39.8983.49519

Third practice visual gaps

Lewis Hamilton – 1’36.403

+0.068 Nico Rosberg – 1’36.471

+0.604 Sebastian Vettel – 1’37.007

+1.324 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’37.727

+1.515 Felipe Massa – 1’37.918

+1.582 Valtteri Bottas – 1’37.985

+1.730 Max Verstappen – 1’38.133

+1.857 Jenson Button – 1’38.260

+2.062 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’38.465

+2.139 Sergio Perez – 1’38.542

+2.219 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’38.622

+2.230 Fernando Alonso – 1’38.633

+2.644 Daniil Kvyat – 1’39.047

+2.759 Nico Hulkenberg – 1’39.162

+2.827 Esteban Gutierrez – 1’39.230

+2.835 Kevin Magnussen – 1’39.238

+2.836 Romain Grosjean – 1’39.239

+3.186 Jolyon Palmer – 1’39.589

+3.196 Rio Haryanto – 1’39.599

+3.260 Pascal Wehrlein – 1’39.663

+3.337 Marcus Ericsson – 1’39.740

+3.495 Felipe Nasr – 1’39.898

Combined practice times

PosDriverCarFP1FP2FP3Fri/Sat diffTotal laps
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’38.8491’37.5831’36.403-1.1878
2Nico RosbergMercedes1’38.1271’38.4501’36.471-1.65691
3Sebastian VettelFerrari1’39.1751’38.2351’37.007-1.22857
4Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’39.3321’38.7931’37.727-1.06667
5Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1’39.3651’39.2891’37.918-1.37168
6Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1’39.8021’39.1851’37.985-1.292
7Max VerstappenToro Rosso-Ferrari1’41.1341’39.5011’38.133-1.36874
8Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Honda1’40.6631’39.1961’38.260-0.93664
9Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso-Ferrari1’40.6541’39.4651’38.465-183
10Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’40.2871’39.8671’38.542-1.32578
11Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’39.6501’39.0841’38.622-0.46281
12Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Honda1’40.7711’39.4001’38.633-0.76760
13Daniil KvyatRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’40.2181’39.1931’39.047-0.14673
14Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’39.7951’39.162-0.63347
15Esteban GutierrezHaas-Ferrari1’41.2381’40.5081’39.230-1.27862
16Kevin MagnussenRenault1’40.1931’39.238-0.95557
17Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’41.3851’40.2601’39.239-1.02159
18Jolyon PalmerRenault1’41.6711’40.6881’39.589-1.09981
19Rio HaryantoManor-Mercedes1’42.6871’41.0801’39.599-1.48165
20Pascal WehrleinManor-Mercedes1’42.4831’41.1481’39.663-1.48562
21Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’41.9621’41.6521’39.740-1.91274
22Felipe NasrSauber-Ferrari1’41.0851’40.7401’39.898-0.84271
23Sergey SirotkinRenault1’40.89824
24Alfonso CelisForce India-Mercedes1’43.43223

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Keith Collantine
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7 comments on “Hamilton sets record-breaking practice pace”

  1. What was the SS/Soft time difference? If it isn’t 1.5s or more, I guess Mercedes can easily do Q2 on softs if they feel that’s the best strategy – only Ferrari could get ahead of them in Q2, and they have 2s over Ricciardo.

    1. it seems the difference for most teams is about 1,1-1,3 seconds @bosyber, for Mercedes maybe a tad less, not sure.

      On the other hand, I am not sure they would even want to, as the supersofts will last decently enough in the race and we could clearly see how they could get several fast laps out of them (Hamilton set that fastest lap on his 7th lap on those tyres I think), so I think we might just see many cars trying to be on track for several laps towards the end of every session.

      In the race they can easily get a SSoft-Soft strategy with 1 stop working.

      1. True enough I guess @bascb, might be best strategy to go as far with those SSofts as possible, perhaps wait for a SC, and only then switch to softs.

        1. @bosyber:
          I think a possible SC might be the only threat to a straightforward one-stopper. In a normal race, the front-runners are probably going to target lap 30-35 for their single pit stop of the race (just like last year), whereas an early safety car could mix things up, enabling both an early switch to Softs, as well as an early change to fresh Supersofts for a two-stopper.
          However, if there’s no SC, there won’t be too much strategic diversity. Ferrari might try to put pressure on Mercedes by undercutting them if they’re close enough by lap 20-25. But apart from that and the odd mid-fielder trying something different, there won’t be too much action going on tomorrow.

    2. I think that was the reason for yesterdays P1/P2 time discrepancies between Rosberg and Hamilton, they were testing various strategies for Q2 and hence the grid and the race. Also looking at supersoft tyre life with and without a hard Q2 lap in them. Normal service was resumed today with the two drivers battling no holds barred.

  2. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    30th April 2016, 11:18

    Great practice sesson – it was fantastic seeing quick lap after quick lap.

    I do think Hamilton’s in control though – watching on Sky F1 Race Control Hamilton lost a good 1/4 of a second with a Raikkonen-esque moment in the final corner.

    1. He really did lose time, but can we really say he’s ‘in control’?
      He’s gone off the track at least 8 times thus far (I’ve stopped counting), so he might as well end up on the losing side in quali, despite being unquestionably on the pace.

Comments are closed.