Sport Bottas again fastest in first practice for Russian GP
Motor racing-Bottas wins as penalties put Hamilton record bid on hold
Valtteri Bottas won the Russian Grand Prix for Mercedes on Sunday after team mate and Formula One championship leader Lewis Hamilton picked up time penalties for infringements before the race had even started. © Reuters/YURI KOCHETKOV Russian Grand Prix Hamilton, who had started on pole position in Sochi hoping for a 91st victory to equal Ferrari great Michael Schumacher's all-time record, finished third behind Red Bull's Max Verstappen.
By Alan Baldwin
(Reuters) - Valtteri Bottas was fastest on Friday in an interrupted first practice for a Russian Grand Prix that could see Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton equal Michael Schumacher's all-time record of 91 Formula One wins.
While Bottas lapped in one minute 34.923 seconds, Hamilton was only 19th and 2.7 seconds slower than the Finn in a session that saw McLaren's Carlos Sainz and Williams' Nicholas Latifi crash and others spin.
LIVE: Hamilton continues to tremble - both Ferraris out
Lewis Hamilton wants to take the next step towards world championship title in Sochi. Vettel fights with Ferrari to limit damage. Qualifying in the LIVETICKER. © Provided by sport1.de LIVE: Hamilton continues to tremble - both Ferraris out +++ Hamilton unpacks magic round +++ Hamilton flexes his muscles. Seven tenths faster than Bottas. Verstappen is currently third just ahead of Ricciardo.
It was the sixth time in a row that Bottas, who has so far won only the opening race in Austria in July, had been fastest in first practice.
Mercedes technical director James Allison told Sky Sports television that Hamilton had damaged his hard tyres early on in the session and then focused mainly on data gathering.
"It's incredibly easy to lock up a tyre and destroy the tyre set for the remainder of the session," he said. "We fell foul of that with both our drivers today, not really getting anything out of the medium and hard tyres.
"Lewis to boot had a tough time on his soft run as well, again making that mistake of locking the tyres up and then the run being done. Not a great session for us by any means," said the Briton.
The Russian Grand Prix will be the first race of a COVID-hit season with a significant number of fans present.
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Mercedes have won every race at the Sochi circuit since the first in 2014, with six times world champion Hamilton triumphant on four occasions.
The champions have also started every race this season on pole position.
Hamilton leads Bottas, who set his fastest lap on soft tyres before damaging his set of mediums, by 55 points after nine races.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo was second fastest for Renault, 0.507 off Bottas's pace, with Red Bull's Max Verstappen third fastest and 0.147 further back.
Sainz's crash, with the McLaren suffering a broken rear wing after hitting the barriers, brought out a virtual safety car while Latifi triggered a red flag when he went into the tyre wall.
Mexican Sergio Perez was fourth fastest for Racing Point with Canadian team mate Lance Stroll fifth and Renault's Esteban Ocon sixth.
Sebastian Vettel was the highest Ferrari driver in ninth with team mate Charles Leclerc, on pole last year in Russia, 11th.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Toby Davis)
COVID-19 forces Texas A&M to keep fans out of Midnight Yell .
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Texas A&M’s five Yell Leaders ran into an almost empty Kyle Field as Friday night crept into Saturday morning for their Midnight Yell. © Provided by Associated Press Texas A&M University Head Yell Leader Keller Cox performs a yell as part of the first Midnight Yell Practice this season in Kyle Field, College Station, Texas early Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. Due to Coronavirus restrictions, the Texas A&M Band were the only crowd allowed in the normally packed stands for the traditional game day event in College Station, Texas.