How the tables have turned. Last weekend, Max Verstappen and Red Bull-Honda were well off the pace in Singapore, but during Friday practice at Sochi emerged from the opening day of practice fastest by a third of a second from Ferrari.
Perhaps Red Bull really is quick enough to regret introducing new Honda V6s across all four of its cars this weekend, with the resulting five-place grid penalty that means Verstappen can't start from pole no matter how fast he might be. But despite Ferrari emerging from Friday's running very much second-best, there's also reasons for the reds to be optimistic.
At the equivalent juncture last weekend, Red Bull looked in good shape given Verstappen lapped within a couple of tenths of the pace with more seemingly on the table. This inevitably raises the question of whether the same pattern might repeat itself, although it does seem that the car's performance over the bumps was one of the limiting factors in Singapore. Hardly a concern at billiard-table smooth Sochi, where Verstappen appeared to get the car loaded up exactly as he wanted at turn-in for slower corners.