The Mercedes duo were predictably the quickest drivers in today’s Russian Grand Prix practice, with Nico Rosberg going quickest in the morning session and Lewis Hamilton in the afternoon.
Rosberg set his quickest time on the Soft tyre, whilst the switch to Super Soft tyres came later on during the day when the conditions started to match what the teams will be experiencing during qualifying and the race. This is when Lewis Hamilton was able to set his quickest time in the first half hour of the second session, going six tenths of a second quicker than Sebastien Vettel.
The big talking point of the afternoon however was the ‘Aeroscreen’ that was retro-fitted to Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull. It’s the latest in the head-protection solutions Formula 1 is pursuing at the moment and its design was penned by the team led by Dan Fallows.
It seems to take a more natural approach than the ‘Halo’ ran by Ferrari during pre-season testing, and Ricciardo – who ran it for the duration of his installation lap – said that visibility was not an issue. Further static tests have also been conducted by the FIA on the run up to its on-track debut, which can be seen over at Red Bull’s Twitter account.
In terms of their on-track pace today Red Bull finished the second practice session in fifth and seventh places for Ricciardo and Kvyat respectively, having done long runs early on then running the Soft tyre throughout the latter stages of the session.
Drama’s today included Vettel stopping out on track in half way through practice 2 with electrical problems. That put him out for the rest of the session as Ferrari started early work on his planned engine change which reportedly has upgrades worth three tokens. Teammate Kimi Raikkonen had a smoother afternoon, although was unable to improve on his Super Soft run in practice two after making a mistake on his first run and going again. He finished fourth at the chequered flag.
Hamilton meanwhile seemed to be struggling with balance all afternoon. Despite going quickest, the Mercedes driver spent the best part of 20 minutes in the garage as his mechanic’s changed some elements of his setup. This comes after multiple spins on the circuit, most prominently between Turns 15 and 16. In fact Kvyat, Jenson Button and Jolyon Palmer also spun at that part of the circuit on the cold track temperatures.
Some drivers also went wide at Turn 2, including Felipe Nasr who was running with a new chassis in his Sauber after complaining about balance issues in the previous one. The team have just had another high-profile departure amid talk of cash-flow problems, but some encouragement came when Nasr was able to go 14th quickest and faster than teammate Marcus Ericsson in the morning session, before finishing off the day 19th and 22nd respectively.
Romain Grosjean was struggling to get to the bottom of the issues that have been plaguing his Haas since China. He finished the day off down in 16th, whilst teammate Esteban Gutierrez finished the session 17th fastest. It seems Palmer has also still got balance issues to contend with, finishing in 18th after his spin earlier in the day.