SOCHI (Bureaus) – Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton improved his morale with the fastest lap in Russian Grand Prix training on Friday after Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg set the early pace and Ferrari suffered reliability issues.
Rosberg, chasing his seventh win in a row and fourth of the season, was fastest in the morning around the Olympic Park used for the 2014 Winter Games in the Black Sea resort.
The tournament leader dropped to third in the day, yet, with Hamilton establishing a best time of one minute 37.583 seconds on supersoft tyres compared to Rosberg s 1:38.450.
Ferrari s Sebastian Vettel halted on track during the second session.
Hamilton is the only driver to have won in Russia since the race s introduction in 2014 and he must finish the hat trick on Sunday to eat into his team mate s ample 36 point lead after just three of the 21 races.
The Mercedes pair, that have won 35 of the last 41 races between them, were comfortably ahead of the remainder in the morning but Vettel was second quickest for Ferrari after lunch.
The four times world champion, whose team have endured power unit issues in two races this season, was stopped by an electric failure with an hour to go.
Ferrari s Kimi Raikkonen was fourth in both exercises.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo, who examined a fresh head protection apparatus at the start of the session and has ended fourth in all three races, was sixth and fifth for Red Bull in both sessions.
Russian team mate Daniil Kvyat was seventh, with McLaren s Jenson Button eighth and Fernando Alonso 10th in an increase for Honda-powered McLaren as they fight their way back up the pecking order after a nightmare 2015 season.
Renault s Russian test driver Sergey Sirotkin, who’ll be competing in the GP2 support string this season, replaced Denmark s Kevin Magnussen for the first session.
He ended up 13th quickest with routine race driver Jolyon Palmer 18th.