Renault and McLaren stomp

Bottas and Hamilton rule Sochi as Ricciardo and Sainz enter the fight for the top-5. Red Bull, lost in a circuit with few differences.


Obsidering that Mercedes commands with an advantage more typical of the Endurance World Cup, where different prototype specifications coexist, Sochi offers equality and excitement in the fight for the top-5 and the last place on the podium, under normal conditions. The scene after free practice is reminiscent of Spa or Monza, where Renault and McLaren, respectively, entered the direct fight for places of honor ahead of Red Bull. Ricciardo was second in the morning and dropped to third in the afternoon session, behind Bottas and Hamilton. The Australian is taking the RS20 to heights unimaginable a year ago, for the enjoyment of his next tenant, Alonso.

Not far away is Carlos Sainz and that is also good news: he was fourth, two tenths behind RIcciardo and with an income over Norris, leaving aside the mechanical difference between the two McLarens: Lando mounted a new wing and nose , aesthetic touch-ups that can give results. The engineers will study the data and if they like what they see (it must be like that, that's why they have brought it), those evolutions will also be installed in the Madrid's car. Three Renault engines in the top five endorse the power unit's step forward in a straight line circuit and full acceleration, where downforce is less relevant. Sergio Pérez, sixth, is also far ahead (eight tenths so far) over his garage neighbor, Stroll, to whom all the Racing Point upgrades have fallen.

Red Bull and Ferrari have problems, each in their own way. In the case of the Austrians, Verstappen once again faces a very difficult car to drive. His good lap with soft rubber was not such, he made a spin. But Albon, his partner, is far from the head. As for Leclerc, he was eighth ahead of Ocon and with Vettel in the top-10. Funny that it seems like a step forward compared to what happened at Monza or Mugello, but you have to remember that this red car took pole in 2019 and fought for a double, without success. They suffer with the equality of the second group. Too bad everyone, without exception, is so far away from Bottas and Hamilton in Sochi.

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