Russian Grand Prix: Massa quickest in second practice

Felipe Massa clocked 2 minutes, 0.458 seconds around the Sochi track, two tenths ahead of Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel. Massa’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas was third.

The Williams driver, Felipe Massa, sits in his car during the first practice session in Sochi. In the second session, the Brazilian came out blazing.   -  REUTERS

Williams driver Felipe Massa clocked the fastest time in Friday’s second practice session for the Russian Grand Prix, with only six others setting times in heavy rain.

The first practice session was disrupted by a fuel spill and the second took place with standing water on large parts of the track.

Massa clocked 2 minutes, 0.458 seconds around the Sochi track, two tenths ahead of Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel. Massa’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas was third.

Earlier, in the first session, Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg set a time of 1:44.355, 0.052 seconds faster than Mercedes rival Nico Rosberg, with Vettel third.

The first 30 minutes of that session were lost as track crew cleaned up a diesel fuel spill left by a service vehicle. Several corners remained slippery, slowing cars significantly. Light rain also fell toward the end of the session.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton was seventh in the first session and only ventured out briefly in the second session without setting a time.

Alonso to start from the back

Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso will start his 250th Grand Prix from the back of the grid on Sunday after taking a 25-place penalty following the McLaren-Honda team’s decision to introduce an updated engine.

The Spaniard, who on Thursday confirmed he intends to remain with the struggling outfit and see out his contract to 2017, has already used nine engines this year and will be on his 10th in this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix.

His McLaren team-mate Briton Jenson Button last week confirmed he will stay at McLaren next year, ending rumours that he was set to retire from Formula One.

Button will not have the same updates from Honda on his car, but is expected to have them at the United States Grand Prix and said he was optimistic about the future for the team.

Spaniard Roberto Merhi of Marussia has also taken a 20-places grid penalty after an engine change.

Timings – second free practice: 1. Felipe Massa (Williams) 2:00.458; 2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 2:00.659; 3. Valtteri Bottas (Williams) 2:00.688; 4. Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso) 2:00.806; 5. Fernando Alonso (McLaren) 2:01.077; 6. Daniil Kvyat (Red Bull) 2:01.418; 7. Carlos Sainz Jr. (Toro Rosso) 2:02.805; 8. Jenson Button (McLaren) 2:02.845.

Others did not set times.

First free practice: 1. Nico Hulkenberg (Force India) 1:44.355; 2. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1:44.407; 3. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 1:44.986; 4. Sergio Perez (Force India) 1:45.146; 5. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 1:45.233; 6. Carlos Sainz Jr. (Toro Rosso) 1:45.488; 7. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:45.691; 8. Valtteri Bottas (Williams) 1:45.746; 9. Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso) 1:46.203; 10. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 1:46.215; 11. Jenson Button (McLaren) 1:46.231; 12. Felipe Massa (Williams) 1:46.333; 13. Felipe Nasr (Sauber) 1:46.747; 14. Fernando Alonso (McLaren) 1:47.443; 15. Pastor Maldonado (Lotus) 1:48.006; 16. Daniil Kvyat (Red Bull) 1:48.096; 17. Jolyon Palmer (Lotus) 1:49.094; 18. Roberto Merhi (Marussia) 1:52.994; 19. Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) 1:54.272; 20. Will Stevens (Marussia) 1:58.254.