Sat, Oct 11, 2014 - Page 19 News List

Hamilton gets fastest practice time in Russia

AP, SOCHI, Russia

Formula One leader Lewis Hamilton had the fastest time in yesterday’s practice for the inaugural Russian Grand Prix.

Hamilton was second in the morning session behind Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, but dominated the afternoon run by a wide margin. Rosberg dropped to fourth.

Kevin Magnussen of McLaren was second, with Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso third. Valtterri Bottas of Williams was fifth behind Rosberg, with Jenson Button in the second McLaren completing the top six.

Hamilton’s fastest lap of 1 minute, 39.630 seconds on the Sochi Autodrom, built around the Olympic Park that was used for the Winter Olympics in February, was an improvement of nearly three seconds from his morning run on the unfamiliar circuit making its debut on the Formula One calendar.

Mercedes can clinch the constructors’ title with a victory in tomorrow’s race. Hamilton leads Rosberg by 10 points in the drivers’ standings.

The Marussia team ran only one car in respect to driver Jules Bianchi, who remains in critical, but stable condition with severe head injuries after crashing into a mobile crane at the Japanese GP on Sunday.

Bianchi’s father, Philippe, told the newspaper Nice Matin that “Jules is fighting as he always did, the same way as if he was racing. He is strong.”

With the French driver’s car in pit lane, Marussia’s other driver, Max Chilton, placed last in the first practice.

“It is going to be a very emotional weekend for the whole team, but we will try to get through it,” Chilton said.

Alonso’s car bore a sign saying “Forza Jules” (Go Jules).

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