Carlos Sainz flies in Sochi

The Madrilenian was third in free practice, behind Hamilton and Bottas, and must fight for the second row in qualifying with the McLaren.


It's comfortable and it shows. Carlos Sainz gets the laps in Sochi, all of them, with the soft tire and also with the medium, and his third place in the final training session of the Russian GP reaffirms the good feelings and raises expectations before qualifying (2:00 p.m., Movistar F1). The Madrilenian will fight for the best positions on the grid and the second row is a feasible goal against the Renault. Ocon was fourth, Ricciardo lagged but had problems with the rear view mirror during his fastest lap, in fact he drove with one hand. Sergio Pérez and Verstappen are in that battle as well and can go to any garage without warning. But, for now, the advantage is the McLaren.

Curiously, the advantage is Sainz's McLaren, with the old wing, while Norris is far away in the classification riding the new Mercedes-style part. If it remains in the car it is because it works, there would be no reason to risk just because, but it is not very well understood that it is installed in one car and not in the other and the matter will deserve an explanation this afternoon. Lando struggled on his shot attempt and finished last on the timesheets. Vettel was seventh, with two tenths over Leclerc. Here the Ferrari looks better, even if it doesn't look good.

Leading the standings is Lewis Hamilton, who scored seven tenths off Valtteri Bottas although the two Mercedes followed different schedules and did not set their best times at the same time. They are very much left behind, heading for their seventh Sochi victory in seven races. The question is whether it will be for Hamilton, equaling Schumacher, or for Bottas, delaying the records.

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