GP2 Series leader Jolyon Palmer had the perfect start to his weekend setting the best laptime of the free practice session at the Sochi Autodrom in a 1:46.083 – half a second quicker than closest rival Arthur Pic. André Negrao finished third.
The session opened in perfect conditions as the drivers fed onto the Russian track for the very first time on Medium Pirelli tyres. Palmer was quick to set the pace dominating the rest of the pack. Stoffel Vandoorne was the first driver to challenge the Brit, setting up a laptime two tenths slower than Palmer. Fifteen minutes into the session, the DAMS racer went on a flyer and extended the gap to Vandoorne by seven tenths whilst Pic moved up to third.
Vandoorne was then on a mission: mid-session, he found some clean air to dip under 1m47 and claimed the top spot. Pic and Felipe Nasr also improved to take P2 and P3 respectively. All the drivers re-joined the pits and when the action picked up again, Mitch Evans edged Pic out of P2 with a laptime just four hundredths slower than Vandoorne’s.
In the final minutes, Pic went quickest, but Palmer stole the Frenchman’s thunder with one minute left on the clock and reclaimed the top spot. At the chequered flag, Negrao found some extra pace to move up to third ahead of Vandoorne, Evans, Kimiya Sato, Johnny Cecotto, Nathanaël Berthon, Felipe Nasr and Tio Ellinas.
With all the drivers now more familiar with the Russian circuit, today’s qualifying session should deliver a great battle.
Sochi – Free Practice
Driver Team Laptime Laps
1. Jolyon Palmer DAMS 1:46.083 18
2. Arthur Pic Campos Racing 1:46.618 18
3. André Negrao Arden International 1:46.623 20
4. Stoffel Vandoorne ART Grand Prix 1:46.740 19
5. Mitch Evans RT RUSSIAN TIME 1:46.763 19
6. Kimiya Sato Campos Racing 1:46.781 18
7. Johnny Cecotto Trident 1:46.889 19
8. Nathanaël Berthon Venezuela GP Lazarus 1:47.027 19
9. Felipe Nasr Carlin 1:47.123 19
10. Tio Ellinas Rapax 1:47.359 20
11. Jon Lancaster Hilmer Motorsport 1:47.394 17
12. Rio Haryanto Caterham Racing 1:47.452 18
13. Takuya Izawa ART Grand Prix 1:47.474 20
14. Raffaele Marciello Racing Engineering 1:47.589 17
15. Stefano Coletti Racing Engineering 1:47.667 17
16. Marco Sorensen MP Motorsport 1:47.672 17
17. Pierre Gasly Caterham Racing 1:47.702 17
18. Sergio Canamasas Trident 1:47.857 19
19 Daniel Abt Hilmer Motorsport 1:47.862 18
20. Stéphane Richelmi DAMS 1:47.882 18
21. Simon Trummer Rapax 1:47.903 19
22. Rene Binder Arden International 1:47.965 17
23. Daniel De Jong MP Motorsport 1:48.276 17
24. Julian Leal Carlin 1:48.508 11
25. Sergio Campana Venezuela GP Lazarus 1:48.623 18
26. Artem Markelov RT RUSSIAN TIME 1:48.707 17