Russian GP pacesetter Vettel feels Mercedes sandbagging in practice

Sebastian Vettel believes Mercedes was sandbagging in Friday practice for Formula 1's Russian Grand Prix, after not matching Ferrari's pace

Russian GP pacesetter Vettel feels Mercedes sandbagging in practice

The Italian squad topped the times in both the morning and the afternoon sessions, with Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas finishing a distant third in second practice, more than six tenths behind Vettel, just ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

But Vettel insisted that gap was "artificial", and when asked if he thought Mercedes - which has never been beaten in Sochi - was sandbagging said: "Yes.

"I think they will be fine.

"It's a circuit that suits them so they will be strong tomorrow.

"I think last year people expected Williams to be fastest after Friday, if I remember right, and it turned out Mercedes was the fastest.

"That's how sometimes you can be misled and I think there's a lot of things we can play within the car: fuel loads, engine modes...

"This looks like a Mercedes track. For sure they didn't show everything today and they didn't get a lap together, so the gap you see it's artificial."

Championship leader Vettel struggled to get up to speed in first practice and even spun near the end of the session, in which Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen led the way.

"I think we can be [happy], but not entirely," Vettel added.

"We had a bit of a rough start this morning, got a little bit of out hand with the first set of super-softs, and it took me a while to get up to speed.

"Towards the end I found the car again and I think the pace looks OK, but surely it feels like there's a bit more we can squeeze out, so we need to see where we can find it.

"Set-up-wise we didn't change much for majority of the day because I needed to get up to speed and only in the end I think it was OK."

shares
comments
Honda in 2018 talks with 'various' Formula 1 teams

Previous article

Honda in 2018 talks with 'various' Formula 1 teams

Next article

Mercedes' Hamilton rejects Vettel's Russian GP 'sandbagging' claim

Mercedes' Hamilton rejects Vettel's Russian GP 'sandbagging' claim
Load comments
The figures Red Bull and Mercedes can't afford to see again in F1 2021 Plus

The figures Red Bull and Mercedes can't afford to see again in F1 2021

OPINION: An interloper squad got amongst the title contenders during Formula 1’s street-circuit mini-break, where Red Bull left with the points lead in both championships. But, as the campaign heads back to purpose-built venues once again, how the drivers of the two top teams compare in one crucial area will be a major factor in deciding which squad stays in or retakes the top spot

Why Alfa's boss is ready for the task of securing a stronger F1 future Plus

Why Alfa's boss is ready for the task of securing a stronger F1 future

Two tenth places in recent races have lifted Alfa Romeo to the head of Formula 1's 'Class C' battle in 2021, but longer-term the Swiss-based squad has far loftier ambitions. With the new 2022 rules set to level out the playing field, team boss Frederic Vasseur has good reason to be optimistic, as he explained to Autosport in an exclusive interview

Formula 1
Jun 15, 2021
How Barnard’s revolutionary McLaren transformed F1 car construction Plus

How Barnard’s revolutionary McLaren transformed F1 car construction

The MP4/1 was pioneering by choice, but a McLaren by chance. STUART CODLING relates the tangled (carbonfibre) weaves which led to the creation of one of motor racing’s defining cars

Formula 1
Jun 15, 2021
Why the end is nigh for F1’s most dependable design tool Plus

Why the end is nigh for F1’s most dependable design tool

Windtunnel work forms the bedrock of aerodynamic development in Formula 1. But as PAT SYMONDS explains, advances in virtual research are signalling the end of these expensive and complicated relics

Formula 1
Jun 13, 2021
Why polarising Mosley’s legacy amounts to far more than tabloid rumour Plus

Why polarising Mosley’s legacy amounts to far more than tabloid rumour

The newspapers, naturally, lingered over Max Mosley’s tainted family history and niche sexual practices. But this is to trivialise the legacy of a big beast of motor racing politics. STUART CODLING weighs the life of a man whose work for safety on both road and track has saved hundreds of thousands of lives, but whose penchant for cruelty remains problematic and polarising

Formula 1
Jun 12, 2021
Why pragmatic Perez isn't fazed by no-nonsense Red Bull F1 culture Plus

Why pragmatic Perez isn't fazed by no-nonsense Red Bull F1 culture

Sergio Perez has spent most of his career labouring in Formula 1’s midfield, wondering whether he’d ever get another shot at the big time. Red Bull has handed him that chance and, although life at the top is tough, the Baku winner is doing all the right things to get on terms with Max Verstappen, says BEN ANDERSON

Formula 1
Jun 11, 2021
What the data tells us about the F1 2021 title fight Plus

What the data tells us about the F1 2021 title fight

Formula 1 has been tracking car performance using timing loops mounted every 200m around each circuit – to the extent that it was able to anticipate Ferrari’s 'surprise’ pole in Monaco. PAT SYMONDS explains what this means for this season and beyond

Formula 1
Jun 10, 2021
The weighty issue F1 needs to find a balance with Plus

The weighty issue F1 needs to find a balance with

OPINION: After consecutive street races with contrasting highlights, one theme stood out which has become a prevalent issue with modern Formula 1 cars. But is there a way to solve it or, at least, reach a happy middle ground to help all parties?

Formula 1
Jun 10, 2021