With Formula 1’s Grand Prix of Russia race weekend well and truly underway at the Sochi track in Russia, Mercedes was expected to be faced with a strong challenge from their championship rivals, Ferrari, but it seems the Italian side weren’t giving away everything they have up their sleeve on Friday.
According to Motor Sport, Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas believes Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen have much more in the tank than they let on during free practice one and two on Friday.
While Vettel dominated the first session, his Prancing Horse ended not only behind the Silver Arrows in the second — and much faster — session, but also behind the Red Bulls. After a spin in practice two, Vettel saw himself paced the fifth fastest by the end of the session.
Bottas was not convinced the Ferraris were really struggling as much as they were letting on though.
“I don’t believe it is real. I think it is going to be very close tomorrow. Normally they have been very strong in the straight lines but today they didn’t seem to run full power or something, so we will see tomorrow. I think it was a good day for us, at least on paper we seem to be quick but it is only Friday and we saw Ferrari not really giving everything they have with their car.”
Hamilton and Bottas battle for P1 ????
Just 0.101 between P3 and P5 ⏱
Missed FP2 at the #RussianGP? ????????
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 28, 2018
Teammate and championship leader Lewis Hamilton also seemed perplexed by Ferrari’s performance in the second session.
“I really have no idea. My strategist will have a better idea of what they are doing with fuel and all those sorts of things, but I don’t know if they didn’t get [clean] laps today.”
In the meantime, Vettel himself felt that his car lacked pace on Friday, stating that his team had “tried everything,” but were still not quick enough. Despite his standing at fifth fastest, he was still only off leader Hamilton’s pace by 0.543.
“The car didn’t feel very good and didn’t come together so [it’s] not a surprise if other people are faster. We need to find the reasons and hopefully come out of the box strong tomorrow. We looked quite far away from the rest of the field, I think struggling a bit for one lap – but also in the long run we went through our tires a bit harder and quicker than the rest,” the German driver said. Teammate Raikkonen was just behind him in the standings, another half-second off the pace.
Despite their shortcomings during practice, Ferrari still hopes to lock out the front row of the grid tomorrow during qualifying.