Russian Grand Prix: Valtteri Bottas comes top in first practice

Valtteri Bottas comes top in first practice at the Russian Grand Prix on Friday.

Bottas led Lewis Hamilton in a Mercedes one-two in the first practice ahead of the race in Sochi this weekend.

He was 0.211 seconds ahead of Hamilton, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen third just 0.016secs behind his title rival, who the Dutchman leads by five points.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who starts at the back of the grid after a penalty for using too many engines, was fourth.

Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel and Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly completed the top six.

The race will see Hamilton and Verstappen face off two weeks after crashing together during the Italian Grand Prix. Red Bull’s Verstappen leads Mercedes’ Hamilton by five points with an expected eight races to go.

Verstappen has a three-place grid penalty in Russia this weekend after being judged “predominantly to blame” for his crash with Hamilton in Italy.

The Dutchman will need to take a new engine at some point in the remaining races to ensure he can get to the end of the season, and that will mean an automatic grid penalty because he has already reached his maximum allocation of three.