Sport Bottas again fastest in first practice for Russian GP
Navalny's team says nerve agent used to poison him found on hotel room bottle
Traces of the Novichok nerve agent used to poison Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny were found on a bottle in his hotel room in Siberia, his team said. The discovery suggests that Navalny was poisoned before he left the hotel and not at the airport, where they initially suspected he might have ingested the poison through a cup of tea.
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.
Open Letter: For the Sake of Transatlantic Security, Stop Nord Stream 2 | Opinion
Nord Stream 2 undermines both the Transatlantic relationship and the idea of European unity. As former and current national leaders, diplomats, ministers, and experts, we call for the project to be stopped forthwith.Over the past decade, the Government of the Russian Federation has engaged in a litany of malign activities aimed at upending liberal democratic norms across Europe and North America. The shocking poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny by a variant of the weapons-grade nerve agent Novichok shows that Moscow has not been deterred by Western actions and statements and refuses to reverse its destabilizing political adventurism at home and abroad.
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)
'You are good people:' Navalny thanks Russian pilots, medics .
MOSCOW (AP) — Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is in Germany recovering from what authorities there determined to be nerve agent poisoning, thanked Russian pilots and paramedics for acting quickly after he fell into a coma on a flight from Siberia. Navalny, who collapsed on a plane to Moscow on Aug. 20 and spent nearly three weeks in a coma, said in an Instagram post on Friday that pilots “quickly landed the plane in Omsk” and medical workers at the airport “jammed a dose of atropine" into him, immediately recognizing “a toxic poisoning.