F1 Russian Grand Prix LIVE: Bottas goes fastest in FP1, Hamilton and Verstappen next – stream, TV, latest updates

GET ready for more high-octane racing as the Formula One season moves to Russia.

Sochi plays host to what could be a pivotal race in the Driver's Championship, with Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen grappling for crucial points.

First up though there are two practice sessions today, before qualifying on Saturday.

  • Practice start times: 9.30am/1pm BST
  • TV channel: Sky Sports F1

Follow ALL the latest with our live blog below…

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  • Kealan Hughes

    'LEWIS WON'T BAIL'

    Lewis Hamilton has decided not to back out of on-track battles when he believes he has a right to the corner, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff says.

    Wolff said it followed discussions over the aggressive approach to racing of title rival Max Verstappen of Red Bull.

    Wolff said: "The change in approach is that Lewis pretty much decided not to bail out any more when he thinks the corner is his.

    "Now it needs two to understand when a collision can be avoided."

  • Kealan Hughes

    'NICE TO BE FIGHTING'

    Ferrari's Charles Leclerc finished between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in practice one and he is glad to be competing with the race leaders.

    Leclerc told The Race: "They have two different styles. Max is a bit more on the aggressive side, Lewis a bit more on the clean side. It’s nice to be fighting with both of them.

    “Lewis is always very, very clever in the way he positions his car to put you in a difficult situation. And he most of the time manages to make the pass in a clean way.

    “But I enjoy racing with both, and if anything I quite like fighting with Max because it’s always really on the limit.”

    NINTCHDBPICT000682061343Credit: Reuters
  • Kealan Hughes

    'WE NEED CHAOS'

    Fernando Alonso is feeling confident ahead of Sunday's Grand Prix but admits he would near close to a miracle to win.

    He told Autosport: "I think we are the fifth or sixth team in the field. So to take a podium we need a very chaotic race. Without that, P6 or P7 is our maximum achievable position.

    "A clean Friday is important, because it could be the only dry run of the weekend.

    "You never know, but at least we have more confidence here than in Monza."

  • Kealan Hughes

     

    Lando Norris crashed into the wall and damaged the front wing on his McLaren as he made his way back to the pits at the end of first practice at the 2021 Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix.

    He somehow managed to clip a concrete barrier on his way into the pits and ended up in a spin.

    It was a momentary lapse in concentration of an otherwise positive opening session for the Brit, who recorded the sixth-fastest time in first practice.

  • Kealan Hughes

    MERCEDES ON TOP

    We're halfway through first practice and it is Mercedes pair Valterri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton who have set the fastest times so far.

    Charles Leclerc follows closely behind and then comes Hamilton's rival Max Verstappen, just under a second down on the Brit.

    It is heating up to be an exciting qualification.

  • Jim Sheridan

    FP1 LATEST

    More good speed from Bottas on a glorious morning in Russia, with the Mercedes man going fastest to top the leaderboards.

    Let's hope that the rain forecast doesn't wreak havoc on FP2 and FP3, because the track looks in terrific condition for racing.

  • Jim Sheridan

    TO THE MAX

    Verstappen on the soft tyres and he finally puts his foot to the floor.

    The Driver's Championship leader goes fastest in FP1.

  • Jim Sheridan

    BOTTAS ON THE CHARGE

    Valtterri isn't half bad at this track – and is showing good early pace on the hard tyres.

    A terrific last sector puts him fastest with a 1:36.4, Leclerc and Hamilton nex.t

  • Jim Sheridan

    FP1 LIVE

    Hamilton, Bottas and Leclerc showing good early pace on this pancake of a track.

    There's just under 2m of elevation through the entire thing.

    We mentioned the weather earlier and that's something to keep an eye on for qualifying and the race itself on Sunday – the forecast is for heavy rain…

  • Jim Sheridan

    LECLERC PENALTY

    An upgrade to Ferrari's power unit has put Leclerc on the back of the grid on Sunday.

    Carlos Sainz though, he still has the old unit and will have NO penalty.Ferrari didn't want both their cars starting at the back.

    They're out on the track now, with the two Mercedes' also joining the fray.

  • Jim Sheridan

    HAMMER TIME

    Lewis Hamilton is adamant he will not crack under the pressure of his intense F1 title fight with Max Verstappen.

    The rivalry has exploded on track with the two coming to blows at the British and Italian Grands Prix.

    Last out at Monza, Hamilton said he was lucky to be alive after Verstappen landed his Red Bull racecar on to the top of his Mercedes – earning the Dutchman a three-place grid penalty here in Sochi.

    Hamilton, who is locked in to his 10th title fight, was quizzed whether Verstappen's actions were showing he is struggling to cope with the added pressure.

    He said: "Obviously he won't admit to it, I'm not going to make an assumption.

    "But I'm just saying I remember [my first one] was difficult. It was intense. I was going through a lot of different emotions, I didn't always handle it the best. And that's to be expected, it's a lot of pressure.

    "You're working in a big team, there's a lot of self-expectation and pressure because the desire to win is huge."

  • Jim Sheridan

    MERC TERRITORY

    This is Mercedes' track, if previous years are anything to go by.

  • Jim Sheridan

    FP1 IS GO!

    Time for action in Russia, where there's just been an impressive fly-past from the military.

    This could be one of those practice sessions that tells us everything – or nothing.

    But it wouldn't be F1 without that unpredictability.

    The drivers just about to head out on track under clear skies.

  • Kealan Hughes

    MAX ATTACKS

    Max Verstappen has taken another swipe at Lewis Hamilton as their F1 battle is set to erupt in Russia.

    The two clashed at the Italian GP where Hamilton claimed he was lucky to be ALIVE after Verstappen launched his Red Bull off a kerb and on to the roof of the Brit's Mercedes.

    And they have looked horns again after Hamilton had hinted that the pressure could be getting to the 23-year-old, who is in his first title fight, with Verstappen hitting back saying: "You don't even know me."

    Hamilton was quizzed whether Verstappen's desperate lunge in Monza showed he is struggling to cope with the added pressure.

    He said: "Obviously Max won't admit to it, I'm not going to make an assumption!

    "But I remember [my first title battle] was difficult. It was intense. I was going through a lot of different emotions.

    "I didn't always handle it the best. And that's to be expected, it's a lot of pressure."

  • Kealan Hughes

    SCHEDULE

    There's no sprint qualifying at the Russian Grand Prix, so the weekend takes on a familiar pattern.

    First and second practice will be held on Friday, September 24 at 9.30am BST and 1pm BST.

    Qualifying follows on Saturday, with the action getting underway at 1pm.

    And the big race itself will be held on Sunday, September 26 with lights out at 1pm.

    You can catch all of the action live on Sky Sports F1.

    Coverage of first practice begins at 9am on Friday, with streaming available on Sky Go.

  • Jim Sheridan

    WE GO AGAIN

    Ready for more?

    After Monza threw up thrills and spills galore, F1 is back this weekend for the Russian Grand Prix.

    Neither Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen finished the race in Italy, crashing together mid-race and further fuelling their ongoing rivalry.

    The Dutchman has been slapped with a three-place grid penalty ahead of this weekend's Russian GP for causing the smash that took them both out.

    Ahead of the big race on Sunday, we have two practice sessions today (9am and 1pm) before qualifying tomorrow.

    We could be in for a real treat – don't miss a second with our live blog from Sochi.

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