Bottas heads incident-filled first practice

Although the times at the top of the table changed little, the session featured several spins and crashes – with Williams driver Nicholas Latifi’s accident bringing out the red flags – as the drivers got up to speed in Sochi.

Unusually, the Mercedes pair claimed the top spots during the early installation running as they opted to head out at the start of the session instead of waiting in their garages, with Hamilton setting the initial pace at 1m37.313s before Bottas arrived and improved the top spot by 0.403s.

After a lull in action of over 10 minutes, the pack gradually headed back out to complete more laps on the medium and hard rubber – with Sergio Perez, Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo all enjoying brief spells in first place.

Just before the opening half hour of the 90-minute session had been completed, Verstappen went quickest with 1m36.751s on the mediums, as the Mercedes pair took to the track on the softs.

Bottas used the red walled rubber to set a new quickest time at 1m34.923s, which remained as the fastest time for the rest of the session as the first of two major disruptions occurred shortly afterwards.

Hamilton did not get to set his soft tyre lap as Carlos Sainz lost the rear of his McLaren after putting his left-side wheels onto the outside kerbs approaching the Turn 7…

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